Polecam Abides by KISS Principle for 3D Production

When it comes to shooting 3D, Polecam founder and managing director Steffan Hewitt is a staunch advocate of the old KISS Principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid.  As a result of this simplistic approach, a growing number of broadcasters and production companies have incorporated Polecam 3D into their 3D shows.

“I believe in the KISS principle wholeheartedly; why overcomplicate something if you don’t have to?” Hewitt says. “I am by no means a 3D expert or guru, but people seem to think we are because we’ve been able to do 3D with the Polecam very simply.”

Polecam 3D consists of a four-meter boom and two Toshiba IK-HD1E 3CCD HD cameras operating at 1920 x 1080 50i. The cameras are mounted side-by-side on a wide 3D head feeding two camera control units mounted at the base of the rig.

“The beauty of the Polecam 3D is that we can put two cameras on a regular Polecam by just slightly widening our head,” Hewitt says. “In fact, our standard head, as of later this year, will be 3D capable.”

Champions League Final Gets Polecam 3D Treatment

In May, Spanish public broadcaster Televisio de Catalunya and its TV3 channel deployed Polecam 3D in its 3D production of the 2010 UEFA Champions League soccer final at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid. TV3 utilized 13 3D rigs for the shoot, including Polecam, Spidercam, Steadicam, and a helicopter camera.

Madrid-based Polecam specialists Cristian Martínez and Juan Carlos Bergantiños of Poleshot Production integrated the system for TV3. The Polecam was positioned directly behind the goal and Martinez served as the primary operator. The HD-SDI signal from each camera on the Polecam 3D rig was routed via fiber to a TV3 production truck and the transmission output was broadcast live by satellite and simultaneously recorded on HDCAM.

“When it comes to something like a behind-the-goal [position] in Champions League, it has to be simple and flexible,” says Hewitt. “If that was an ordinary crane with an ordinary 3D rig on it, you just wouldn’t be able to do anything sensible with it. It would be too big and too obtrusive. Health and safety would have a hissy fit about it and you wouldn’t be able to move it around at all.”

More Boom and Less Zoom

According to Hewitt, the Polecam lends itself to 3D chiefly because of its ability to avoid convergence issues when dealing with zoom and focus.

“First of all, we don’t need a zoom lens because the boom is the zoom,” he says. “That’s the real crux difference. The minute you put a zoom lens on you have to be gear driving those two zoom engines perfectly in time to make sure they are [converged properly]. But if the boom is our zoom, we get rid of all of that straight away. We can then fix focus it infinitely because we’re using 1/3-inch chips with prime lenses, which means we can get the cameras smack-bang side-by-side together. And with prime lenses with such massive depth of field, everything is going to be pretty much in focus.”

A Bright and Simple Future

In addition to the Champions League final, Polecam 3D was used on ESPN’s X Games 3D: The Movie and will be used during Summer X Games 16 in July, among other productions. Hewitt also expects Polecam 3D to play a major role in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

“Unwittingly, by just being simple we’ve stumbled across a solution that has produced excellent 3D,” says Hewitt. “People came and looked at us at NAB and [other tradeshows] and told us that this is the best 3D at the entire show. If we can go 3D without really having to change much at all and with very little investment by keeping it simple, then I’m going to keep on doing that. I know there are some people out there think this just can’t work because it seems too simple, but it really does.”

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