I’ve been off on my posting consistency of late, I hope to rectify that this month as I’ve got some loose Orson Welles’ reviews to tie up.  Did I use loose correctly?  I’m sure I’ll get letters.

Right now…there are other things to speak on.


If you know me, you know that I have, in general, had very little interest in the latest 3D craze.  I avoid 3D screenings, even of animated fare, and I certainly can’t stomach the fake post-production conversions.  So my interest was limited when Panasonic initially announced their (relatively) affordable 3-D camera, the AG-3DA1.

A while after that announcement I received an invite to a Panasonic breakout session in Washington DC.  The invite promised the chance to ogle, and even gently touch various pieces of hardware, including the 3DA1.  I figured what the hell…

Now let’s have an aside.  As a filmmaker there is something alluring and sexy about a new camera.  I’m not sure what it is, but picking one up and pretending to know what the hell you’re doing with various knobs and menu settings is exciting.  The smaller cameras are especially fun in this regard.  

It wasn’t too long after we arrived at the session that I went over to the 3DA1 and picked it up…my interest went from 0 to 100 pretty darn quick.  The camera body itself is light and doesn’t feel incredibly different on the main body from cameras like the HMC150 or DVX.  The main exterior difference of course is the dual lens setup on the front.

The controls themselves are easy to manipulate.  It seems very much like a shooters camera.  It has an attached LCD that allows you to work in 3-D without having a large monitor hooked up.  This was a big concern for me.  Certainly in the ideal scenario we all have our video village and large monitors.  The truth is often that we are in run and gun situations that do not allow for such comforts.

Now this is not to say that the 3DA1 is going to be completely run and gun friendly.  I’m not sure it’s something that will be immediately utilizable for something like the 48 Hour Film Festival.  It makes 3D easier, but not easy.  There is going to be a bit of a need to go back to the old ways of precision measurements and tight set ups that we tend to get away from in the independent world.  The camera does have some limitations.  It isn’t going to give you a close-up 3D map of the face of Edward James Almos.  It will allow you to create a realistic sense of depth in your scenes.  This is what good 3D is all about.

I can now see one of the unmentioned reasons why 3D has taken off, it’s a fun challenge for filmmakers.  One can understand why James Cameron is excited to shoot in 3D, especially considering he knows he’ll have a definite means of presentation in theaters.

This is the one issue for us Independents…distribution.  Home viewing means for 3D are tricky and scattered at best.  Active shutter glasses are expensive, old style 3D glasses eliminate color, and glasses-free 3D is 10 to 15 years away.  (If it ever happens at all.  The Panasonic reps didn’t sound optimistic on that one.)

Regardless, I’m pretty stoked about the opportunity to get my hands on one of these this fall and possibly shoot some battle scenes in 3D.  Maybe I’ll even make the first 3D Mumblecore movie.