3D Camera Introduced at NAB

A concept prototype of a 3D camera built by Sony and co-developed with Discovery was unveiled Sunday during the Digital Cinema Summit at the National Association of Broadcasters convention. During a keynote address, John Honeycutt, executive vp and head of international business operations at Discovery International, introduced the camera while outlining plans for a 3D channel from Discovery, Sony and Imax slated to launch this year. He said the channel's target audience is primarily men ages 25-49 who are tech-savvy and early adopters.

"We think there is a real audience for this channel," he said, adding that the "deep reservoir" of content that would be available on the channel includes Sony movies, Discovery TV content and Imax films. He was optimistic about 3D TV set sales, though he cautioned that "approximately 12% of all people have issues with their binocular vision, making 3D viewing extremely difficult or impossible."

Currently, 3D cinematography is accomplished with two cameras on a rig. Panasonic, and now Sony, have shown prototypes of integrated 3D cameras.

Sunday's unveiling met with strong interest from the more than 500 attendees at the summit, which was co-produced by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, the Entertainment Technology Center @ USC, the European Broadcast Union and NAB.

Calling it the "camera of the future" Honeycutt provided some of the camera's technical specs, which include 3-inch CMOS sensors per eye, Full HD (1920x1080), interchangeable lenses, convergence control and full metadata support. Field tests are scheduled to start in July.

Asked about the use of 2D-to-3D conversion in its 3D channel plans, Honeycutt said: "If we can find a tool that works and delivers quality. Things like (the Discovery series) Walking With Dinosaurs could be compelling. I'm hoping we are going to see some advancement in 3D conversion." He added: "We only have one opportunity to impress consumers. We are not going to skimp on quality."

By Carolyn Giardina, The Hollywood Reporter