Archive for May, 2011

PostHeaderIcon Engineers & Post Wonks: Take a Hike!

This month I had the opportunity to lead a two-day Panasonic/DirecTV-sponsored workshop in connection with a national 3D student movie making contest. I also led a longer (five-day) student workshop in Mumbai in February that was vastly different in tone and scope.  The Indian sessions featured almost three days of teaching story development skills, a critical training component invariably omitted by the overzealous technical wonks.

I’ve been saying for years that we trainers of the video craft place far too much emphasis on the technical minutiae and too little on story and the emotional component, which are after all the only thing an audience truly cares about. Unfortunately the tech heads raised their ugly heads once again in the three days ahead of my Los Angeles workshps at DirecTV.  An “expert” from one of Hollywood’s foremost tech houses had apparently urged may students to adopt the so-called French system of shooting 3D, known as  Le Méthode Dérobé.

The method stipulates that the background divergence of a scene must be fixed at the maximum percentage specified by the broadcaster, and that we should only vary the camera’s interaxial distance to set the desired convergence angle. Since the Panasonic AG-3DA1 has a fixed IA of 60mm, this means, according to this expert, that the camera must be placed at precisely 9.5 feet (about 3m) to avoid unacceptable hyper-divergence.

As my students struggled through their storyboards, it was obvious that maintaining a fixed 9.5 foot camera distance was impractical, that adopting such a restrictive approach would severely detract from the effectiveness of the students’ visual stories.

The fact is, given the limitations of the camera’s fixed IA, the 3DA1 shooter must be mindful of potential hyper-divergence, too close objects, the impact of focal length on object roundness, and, of course, the intended size of the 3D display screen. These matters are integral to shooting 3D in any form, but are especially critical when shooting with the 3DA1, given the inherent limitations of a fixed binocular-lens system.

3D Guide viewfinder read-out in Panasonic 3DA1.