Panasonic’s 3D Camcorder a Hit at CES

Sports broadcasters and league professionals spent much of their time at CES checking out the new 3D displays and WiFi-enabled HDTV sets. But they also had a chance to check out a new product for broadcasters: Panasonic’s HD 3D camcorder that will be given more prominence at the company’s NAB booth than it had here amidst 152-inch and 3D-capable displays.

“We’ve been getting incredible reaction,” says Bob Harris, Panasonic Broadcast & Television Systems, vice president, marketing and product development. “There are very few 3D cameras out there so we’ve built an integrated system that is low cost and easy to use.”

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 camcorder is priced at $21,000 and while Harris says it won’t replace the 3D rigs that bring together larger, more traditional broadcast cameras and lenses it will help broadcasters simplify the coverage of events. More importantly, it will give them a cost-effective production tool that can be used for sideline interviews, post-game reports, pre-game action, and shots in the broadcast booth.

Michael Bergeron, Panasonic Broadcast strategic technology liasion, says it also provides an important tool for a 3D industry that is sorely lacking in experienced camera people, directors, and producers.

“Broadcaster’s need something they can play with as nobody has gotten enough ‘stick time’ with 3D camera systems,” says Bergeron. “With this they can even take chances and put it in dangerous places. If it gets nailed by a 90 miles per hour fastball they can afford to get another one.”

The twin-lens system adopted in the camcorder’s optical section also allows the convergence point to be adjusted without the need of an additional convergence operator. Functions for automatically correcting horizontal and vertical displacement are also provided. Conventional 3D camera systems require these adjustments to be made by means of a PC or an external video processor.

The camcorder also records on two cards simultaneously, with one card handling the left camera and another recording the right camera. That allows for footage to easily be intergrated into 2D operations as a card can be popped out of the camcorder and used for 2D projects.

Adds Harris, “Even those who are producing 3D content need to find out how to make it compelling so it drives the business. With this camera they can begin to find out how to do that.”

CES had a strong focus on 3D so can the same be expected at NAB? “Is there going to be a high level of interest in 3D? Absolutely,” says Harris. “We will have products that make 3D practical and can help broadcasters get involved with it.”

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.

At NAB, however, there will, be plenty of new products for broadcasters and other production professionals working on 2D productions and grappling with today’s business realities. And for those who are already getting burned out on the 3D hype that news is just what they want to hear.

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