Tales from the Industry XXXIV – Revisiting an Extra Dimension

20110221-153433.jpgBefore jumping on to a plane last week, I went to meet some filmmakers to do a quick shoot we’d arranged. They are making a series of shorts for TV and myself and one of my co-contributors/presenters from The Universe, Laura Danly (from the Griffith Observatory) are doing some on-camera bits for them. (There may be others involved too, I don’t know.)

I mention this since there are two bits of novelty, I think. The first is that it is interesting that the company that commissioned these pieces are looking for shorts (4 minutes or so, apparently), and will be interspersing them with their programming in some way that will be somewhat unusual for current TV formats in the USA. I always welcome opportunities to help put some fun bits of science out there for the public, and in short bites mixed up with other things is just great!

The second novelty is that they are in 3D. You’ll recall, perhaps, that last year I contributed to a special show that was commissioned in 3D as part of the drive to make new content for the various channels being launched in Europe and the USA, and for all the 3D televisions that are being bought. It was the opening episode of the fifth season of The Universe, and it was apparently shown in glorious 3D on one of Sky’s new channels. This was fun in a way since it was the first (or one of the first) science documentaries to air in 3D on these new format channels. Oddly enough, while talking with my brother last night, who I’ve not caught up with in a while, he said that while at the Las Vegas CES last month, he happened to be passing a manufacturer booth showing off their 3D technology and there I was for a moment on one of the screens….presumably a clip from The Universe. Funny old world.

One of the things I mentioned in the post about the filming was what was going on with the 3D technology at the level of filming. Essentially, the state of the art at that time last year was a rig involving two cameras mounted together (see the post). I was pleased to see the DP (Director of Photography) having to go back to his roots at times and do some computations to allow him to adjust separation based on the distance being shot… There was lots of mumbling about how all this will not be needed once the off-the-shelf 3D TV cameras are rolled out. 20110221-153409.jpgWell, it is nine months later, and for this shoot, that’s what we had! See the photo. This one is made by Panasonic, I think, and it is slick and relatively compact, and apparently not an issue to use any more, with no more head-scratching and so forth from the DP. They plug in a monitor, as usual, for the Director to view the shot and help the DP compose the visual field for my contribution, and the only difference there is that it is a 3D monitor, so they were wearing the special glasses, etc. Then it was business as usual, with me talking about various bits of science and astronomy (I was far from my best, what with distractions both external and internal, so I hope they got some usable bits…)

Overall, this 3D industry is moving super-fast, it seems, although to where I still do not know.

-cvj

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