Panasonic HD Goes 3D

Stephen Yagielowicz
Panasonic dramatically raised the stakes in the 3D video game at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where it displayed what it claims is the world's first professional, fully-integrated, Full HD 3D camcorder.

Scheduled to begin shipping later this year, the sleek twin lens camcorder is said to be easier to use, more flexible and more affordable than previous solutions, while offering solid-state reliability and easy workflow.

"Current 3D systems are large-scale setups in which two cameras are fitted to a rig in parallel, or vertically intersect across a half-mirror. Separate recorders are also required," stated a company rep. "In Panasonic's new Full HD 3D camcorder, the lenses, camera head, and a dual Memory Card recorder are integrated into a single, lightweight body. The camcorder also incorporates stereoscopic adjustment controls making it easier to use and operate."

The $21,000 camcorder's integrated twin-lens imaging system allows for optical convergence point adjustment, while providing functions for automatically correcting horizontal and vertical displacement.

"Conventional 3D camera systems require these adjustments to be made by means of a PC or an external video processor," the rep continued. "This new camcorder, however, will automatically recalibrate without any need for external equipment, allowing immediate 3D image capture."

According to the company, the unit's solid-state recording system offers greater flexibility to produce Full HD 3D videos in more challenging shooting environments.

"Right and left Full HD video streams of the twin-lens 3D camcorder can be recorded as files on SDHC/SD Memory Cards, ensuring higher reliability than on other tape, optical disc, HDD or other mechanical-based recording systems," the spokesperson said. "This solid-state, no-moving-parts design will help significantly reduce maintenance costs, and the 3D camcorder will be better able to perform in extreme environments and be more resistant to temperature extremes, shock, and vibration."

"The camcorder is lighter weight and smaller than current 3D rigs, while providing the flexibility of handheld-style shooting," he added. "Setup and transportation is simplified, making it ideal for sports, documentary and filmmaking projects."

No doubt some of those projects will be adult in nature, and while the current price tag will keep it out of the hands of many small studios, larger and more forward-looking operators will find this an intriguing technology worth exploring.

But shooting a video is only part of the production chain.

Panasonic says users will enjoy fast and highly-productive file-based workflows on both Mac and PC-based platforms, including instant, random access to recorded content and longer recording capacity.

"In addition to a camcorder, Panasonic also plans to offer a professional-quality 3D Full HD LCD monitor for field use as well as a professional HD digital AV mixer for live event production," the spokesperson confided. "Panasonic will offer professional production equipment to allow video professionals to efficiently create 3D content, so consumers can enjoy 3D video using Panasonic 3D home theater systems."

With this level of enablement, it may not be long before high quality 3D video becomes pervasive among high end adult entertainment options and perhaps forms the basis of a whole new wave of production — especially as mass-market pricing and an increasing level of performance accompanies this rapidly maturing technology.