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David Poland

By David Poland

Panasonic Rolling Out High-End, Low-Tech 3D

This looks pretty much like the $3500 Panasonic AG-HMC150 we shoot DP/30 with… evolved into a two lens camera. Same set-up, times 2, for taping to SDHC cards. Same tape time available.
And at a $21,000 price point, frankly, if there was a 3D version of HDNet or some such cable outlet coming, looking for 3D product, DP/30 would be going 3D as soon as this camera landed. It’s cheaper than most of the rigs that were bought 5 years ago for high-end crews that are still being lugged around by cameramen until they can be replaced by equipment that costs a quarter as much (or less) for equal (or better) quality. The cost of the camera could, if it generated revenue with a unique opportunity, cover itself without any great payday in 6 months or less.
On the other hand… is 3D TV really going to happen?
DirecTV just changed their software to make it available on their set-top boxes… but in a household with every TV now HD and every box an HD DVR, all bought in the last couple of years, I can’t receive the World Cup matches in 3D without buying a new TV… at a higher price point… for very limited programming opportunities… without really being sure that it will enhance my viewing experience by much.
Still, there is a kid-in-a-candy-store feel to it, no?

14 Responses to “Panasonic Rolling Out High-End, Low-Tech 3D”

  1. mutinyco says:

    I would actually doubt the quality of the 3D. Because it’s still a standard camcorder with camcorder lenses and processing — which means it’ll be a flat image with a wide depth of field.
    For video to look more cinematic, you need to limit the depth of field. This is why a lot of people shooting on the low end have migrated away from camcorders to DSLRs: They natively shoot with 35mm lenses.
    For instance, the shot in Avatar when Jake is first woken, and he’s floating and the background is thrown out — well, you couldn’t do that here because everything would pretty much stay in focus.

  2. Dr Wally says:

    What’s going to determine the uptake of 3D-TV isn’t so much movies on Blu-Ray or sports broadcasting, but GAMING. Sony just put a 3D patch out for the PS3, and a trickle of games have sterescopy embedded in them just waiting to be enabled. Funnily enough, what will help to sell 3D-TV is the opposite of what helped to sell high-def TV – the panels will have to get SMALLER, not larger. Smaller (say 23-30 inches) TV’s can sit easier in the bedroom of the average teenage gamer. All the 3D TV’s so far are 50 inches or so – far too large (not to mention expensive) a display to be accomodated in a bedroom.

  3. berg says:

    They natively shoot with 35mm lenses.
    I have images of men in loin clothes hurling 35mm lenses

  4. torpid bunny says:

    Totally sweet but here’s the thing: most people watch mostly crap on their tvs. I know I do. HD is ok because almost everything looks nicer, but do people really want to watch morning chat shows and Dr. Phil and I’m having quints and My Improbable Deformity and “Hoarders” in 3D?

  5. The Big Perm says:

    DSLRs look weird a lot of times. It’s rare to see a movie with such consistently small depth of field as a lot of the indie guys shoot now. I think they’re just rebelling because for the longest time all of the movies were totally flat since the sensors were so small in those cameras.
    But mutiny is basically wrong about 3D. For a 3D movie, having a wide depth of field is pretty essential. The depth of picture is given by the 3D, you need to see everything. Cameron even said that 3D was perfect for him because for the most part he likes to use wide angles and have a clear field of vision…which you can see in his movies, he’s not like Tony Scott who wants to see a person and a huge blur behind him. Cameron likes to see the room and the archetecture and where the characters are standing in it.

  6. mutinyco says:

    DSLRs and camcorders w/35mm adapters “look weird” because a lot of people stick with using the 50mm instead of a decent variety of lenses. As well, if they shoot with, say, a 7D, the crop sensor throws a 1.6x magnification on the lens, which essentially turns the 50mm into an 80mm — but because the 50mm can focus at 1.5-2 ft. away the shallow focus is exaggerated.
    I’m not talking about shooting all 3D with a long lens. It’s just that for close-ups, etc., people naturally expect to see an out of focus background — which camcorders historically can’t deliver.

  7. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    This is a pretty good camera. Well the prototype was. Its primary pickup will be sports and pornography. DP the price point on 3DTV is so competitive that yes it’s going to work and yes it’ll be around for a long time. Whether it hits those initial sales expectations will be known very soon. The Samsung image is better than the Panasonic but it’s very much a subjective experience when it comes to occular proclivities. See Roger Ebert’s secret stigmatism and his dismissal of all 3D.

  8. The Big Perm says:

    The 5D looks weird because the sensors on that thing are huge. The depth of field is insanely small. The 7D seems more like 35mm film if you’re using those. Although the sound capabilities are pretty shitty.
    But I still don’t think a depth of field problem is an inherent problem with 3D…while people expect to see out of focus backgrounds on close ups in regular movies, it’s not necessary with 3D because the background will naturally fall away due to the 3D. And also, normal people couldn’t tell you what they expect to see cinematography-wise anyway, so there’s a lot of leeway.

  9. mutinyco says:

    The 5D has a full 35 sensor, which in movie terms would be similar to VistaVision, I suppose, while the 7D is a crop sensor that’s similar to Super-35.
    Because the 5D is full 35, the lenses work in a 1:1 ratio. They are what they are. But the CMOS in the 7D throws a 1.6x magnification on it. This would mean you LOSE depth of field with the 7D not the 5D, because it makes each lens longer than it should be.
    I own a 7D. When I was buying a 24mm lens and testing it out first, I immediately noticed that the background was being thrown out of focus, and the guy had to remind me it was effectively now a 40mm.
    Anyhow. Better get used to the look. There’s gonna be a deluge of movies shot with em now.

  10. The Big Perm says:

    I know. There always seems to be a sort of “indie standard” generic look. Before, it was alot of relatively boring looking stuff on sticks and wide depth of field, or bad wide hand held. Now it’s going to be extremely shallow dof and shaky handheld and lots of close ups like 24.
    From the small amount of dealing I’ve had with the Canons, and I’m no techie or cinematographer…you’re getting the cameras backward, I believe. I have messed around with both cameras and while the background was being thrown out of focus with the 7D, it was much more pronounced with the 5D…with the same lenses, if I recall correctly.
    It is because of the larger sensor that the 5D has a shallower depth of field. The 7D has a smaller sensor, which is why camcorders had no shallow focus. The 7D is closer to them than the 5D. With the larger sensor in the 5D, it has a smaller depth of field. It’s the difference of lighting for 16mm/35mm and lighting for IMAX. Large negatives reduce dof.

  11. mutinyco says:

    Found a couple of side by side comparisons. You can definitely see the magnification on the 7D, but on the second one, it’s actually difficult to tell if the dof is shallower because the 5D is inherently out of focus. Anyhow.

  12. The Big Perm says:

    Read about them on technical forums. Shallower dof is one of the things they love about the 5D. And a smaller sensor always means more dof when it comes to video, witness the average video camera. I have about 100 clips from both cameras here that back that up too. And when I tried to handle the 5D…well, I was generally able to focus the 7D easily, but half of the shots I did with the 5D are out of focus because it was such a bitch.

  13. mutinyco says:

    The trade off, though, is the crop. It’s an odd dynamic. 5D may have shallower DOF, but because it’s full sensor the lenses go wider at the same time.

  14. jeffmcm says:

    I’m not sure what the point of this is. So that micro-budget studios like The Asylum can make Captain Avenger: The First American Hero in crappy 3-D for direct-to-video 3-D TVs? So that rich film students can make their homegrown Avatar imitations in their backyards?

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin