NAB, Day 0: Sony 3D Camcorder and Other News from the Future

We had a wonderfull time travel experience this week-end. With a few other attendees of the Digital Cinema Summit we jumped into 2015. First, the economic meltdown is over. The DCS meeting room was too small. The staff LVCC had to bring in all the chairs they could fit in, and the conference still ended with attendees standing up at the back or sitting on the floor. Even the VIP rows were crowded, to the point I saw SMPTE powers-to-be walking the alleys to find a vacant seat.

My taxi drivers confirmed my feeling, the traffic was awful this week-end, with a lot of conference attendees, and the airport was busy days and nights. If the Las Vegas taxi drivers day shift in April are a scale model of our year in Hollywood, we are gonna be busy. Sony is sponsoring the event. I you wonder why I mention that, keep reading.

Lesson one, the business seems to be back. At least the executives came to the conferences. We'll see tomorrow about the show.

The other good news about 2015 is that the 3DTV is real. With Discovery shooting no less that 10 weekly shows in 3D, using not only the Panasonic 3D camcorder, but also secret camera prototypes like the all-in-one SI-3D on a shoulder-mount Element Technica Neutron rig. The beast is that compact that what I saw as the 3D display is actually the whole recording computer. Kudos Ari. And they we were shown an even-more secret toy. Sony introduced a new 3D camcorder with dynamic interaxial. Yes, you read me right. Sony, camcorder, 3D, dynamic SbS. Six 1/3”sensors, 1.5 to 2.5 dynamic inter-axial.

It comes to no surprise, if you know the business of 3D camera engineering, that if you run an DNA partenity test you may find some 21st century 3D genes under the label. I had a chance to congratulate the father of the baby, and believe me he's an happy and proud dad. And he can. BTW, Sony now has another “J” 3D camera here. Bravo Jason.

Kudos to the Sony America team for the whole project management. We came to the NAB to learn and dream about the Pana AG-3D and we have not one but two all-in-one 3D camcorder prototypes to talk about. Who would have bet on that, 6 years ago in 2009?

Lesson two; time is flying by very fast in 3D. I suspect a 3x time factor that would explain the 3x box office numbers.

What else ? A whole 3D truck on the Sony booth, a 3Ality rig at each and every camera maker, a 3D product on every other booth, and a 3D sticker everywhere else. 2015 is really the year of 3DTV. 3D switchers, 3D graphics, 3D displays, 3D NLEs, 3D post, and too many 3D rigs to see all of them. Apple anounced 3D-capable ProRes Qt and FCP, Adobe CS5 is rumored to be Stereoscopic. Everything is great in 3D in 2015.

And the best of it, it's hapenning in 2010.

Lesson three; the 3D conversion is going to append MUCH faster than expected. After all, there are many tools on which 3D is just a software upgrade. NLEs obviously, but also switchers, encoders, and even displays that only need a new driver stage. The camera may be the only hardware-constraint 3D tool.

What else in 2010 ?

Sony is showing its solution for the FIFA 3D. Elements Technica rigs and a home-made image processing that has no real-time capability, beside shifting images around, and only if you type in numbers or run a slider. Yes, you read me right. Sony, passive rig, manual image correction, live sport, giant screen, 3D.

I used to say “FIFA 3D” will the “Avatar of 3DTV”, while I was under the na├»ve feeling that they were planning to hire the guys that know about live 3D. To my understanding there would be a PACE and a 3Ality crew running the show in South Africa. With the NHK guys and my French friends from Binocle taking care of their own stadium. In a word everybody who had shot live a 3D soccer match at least once in 2009-2010. Add the Sky team from UK and you can man 5 stadium and get the show on the screen. We are talking about the biggest show on earth, the unofficial worship in most of the world, the only game the whole planet is playing. I was envisionoing something, if not on the scope, at least in the style of what I saw in 1998 when prepping the Paris FIFA (2D) World Cup.

As it seems, Sony is going by itself, with non-computerized rigs and no real-time image correction. I'm starting to considers it will not the the Avatar of 3DTV, but rather the Titans. May be I'm wrong and I don't know anything about live 3D. Maybe I'd rather shut up and what to see if the plane crashes before I pretend I knew it. Maybe I'm making a fool of myself. Maybe the army of Sony engineers and the crews manning the cameras and trucks will pull it right. Maybe we really are in 2015, after all.

Lesson four; 3D has never been, and will never be a land of milk and honey. But it's now a big player, hard ball game and the survival rules changed lately. And completely.

Did I just wrote a 3-pages post about 3D where Sony shows up every other line and act like willing to shape the world?

Do anyone need any more sign that 3D is here for real?

By Bernard Mendiburu, Stereographer