Vertical Ascent Shoots 3D TV Series with Panasonic AG-3DA1 Camcorders

Vertical Ascent, a production company founded by filmmaker, documentarian, and music video director Adam Friedman, is developing and producing an original 3D TV series that is being shot with Panasonic AG-3DA1 Full HD 3D camcorders.  The series was developed by Vertical Ascent for iN DEMAND to be distributed to U.S. cable systems and offered to consumers for free.

This series is part of iN DEMAND’s drive to create more original 3Dprogramming in 3D. iN DEMAND, which is the country’s largest distributor of transactional Video On Demand and Pay-Per-View, began providing cable with high-profile Hollywood films in stereoscopic 3D last fall.

Content already shot for this short-form series includes Rhythmic Gymnastics, Chinese Lion Dancing, Bicycle Motocross, Cirque School, Snowboarding and Parkour. Other content, including some high-profile international events, is in development.

“I was interested in tackling content that wasn’t typical of 3D, and in challenging myself creatively,” Friedman says, “I’d never have thought of covering Rhythmic Gymnastics, for instance, until I saw what it looks like in 3D.”

The iN DEMAND series marks the first major foray into 3D production for Friedman, who won an EMMY Award for the documentary, Color Me Blue (about the N.Y.P.D.), and whose Rolling Stones’ “Emotional Rescue” video was part of the Whitney Museum Biennial celebration.

“The 3DA1 is affording us exceptional mobility and agility in capturing kinetic subjects in challenging environments,” he adds. “Our locations have ranged from Olympic gymnasiums to ski slopes to L.A. rooftops. We had to lug our gear up several stories of an abandoned building (sans elevator). Try doing that with a beam splitter.”

“We have been blown away with the performance of the 3DA1,” Friedman says. “It’s so small, cost-effective and facilitates bringing a very high level of quality and creativity to the set. The DP can set convergence while he’s shooting and, working with the Panasonic BT-3DLH2550 3D monitor, can quickly effect changes. The end result is that we’re able to move through a lot of shots in a day.”

Friedman is the producer/director of the project, working with Marty Mullin as Director of Photography and Sean MacGowan as DIT/Editor. Vertical Ascent is renting the 3DA1s, sometimes as many as three per shoot, from the Los Angeles office of Abel Cine Tech.

“I really like the 3DA1’s ease of use,” said DP Mullin. “Between me and Sean, we’ve been able to overcome any stereographic issues we’ve encountered.  Using the stereo guide on the camcorder and the BT-3DLH2550 monitor, we can identify any challenges and address them on set. While the camcorder has some limitations, considering the fact that the cheapest beam splitter rig is much more expensive and would require a rig tech if not a full-on stereographer, at our budget point the 3DA1 is the best choice.”

“The 3DA1 can go anywhere that one can position oneself, and doesn’t require cumbersome peripheral accessories,” said DIT/Editor MacGowan. “It allows for hand-held shooting, and excels at capturing very low angles (we’ve placed it on the ground). Marty is able to get coverage from extreme positions, with the only requirement being that he can physically climb atop a half-pipe, or hang on the edge of a seven-story building.”

“We’ve modified the 3DA1 with the addition of Zunow optics, which provide a 30% wider angle of view and mitigate the possibility of frame violations. We occasionally encounter frame violations in situations where they are unavoidable, and in these instances we freely break the rule because the quality of the footage is so outstanding.”

MacGowan explained that the production is using dual-system recording, simultaneously capturing to the 3DA1’s SDHC cards as well as to dual AJA Ki Pro recorders (recording 10-bit QuickTime movies for maximal quality). “We have also recorded full stereo 3D directly into a Mac Pro via AJA KONA 3G,” he said. “The edit and finish are handled with a combination of Final Cut Pro and Cineform Neo3D software, plus the AJA KONA 3G and Mac Pro. Any necessary parallax corrections are handled in post using Neo3D.”

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