Thursday, 2 June 2011

Sony's new 3D baby!

One of the products on the Sony stand at Dimension3 which drew a lot of attention was the HXR-NX3D1 mini 3D camcorder. I had a chance to play with it and was very impressed with the functionality and quality of the output from such a small package.
Sony HXR-NX3D1 Camcorder
It basically consists of two HD camcorders in a single housing, with separate lenses, sensors and processors.
The distance between the lenses (Inter-Ocular Distance) is fixed at 31mm but the convergence can be adjusted manually or automatically to vary the convergence plane and hence the 3D effect.

The Camcorder has 96GB of onboard flash memory, which is enough for about 7.5 hours of 3D material, but there is also a slot for Memory Stick or SD cards to expand the capacity. It is also possible to connect an external hard drive and copy media direct to that without a computer.

The handle on top of the Camcorder has a professional audio interface with two XLR connectors for line or mic level inputs, it even has support for phantom power. The mini shotgun mic is also part of the kit.
The whole handle and audio section can easily be removed from the Camcorder to reduce size and weight as can the lens hood.
Handle and Audio interface
The whole thing weighs just over a kilo with mic and battery attached and is very comfortable to hold, although it was a little right heavy when held by the handle. I would love to get it on my little Steadicam rig!

Talking of Steadicam the Camera has active stabilisation which does a very good job of smoothing out bumps when shooting handheld or walking. The Camera can sense when it is moving and adjusts the stabilisation accordingly.

The 3.5" touch screen screen display allows access to all of the features of the Camcorder with the ability to select automatic or manual control for many of the settings.
The screen is also Auto-Stereoscopic so you can see your 3D shots when you are shooting or when you play them back later without the need for 3D glasses. The screen can also be switched to show Left only, Right only or a combination of Left and Right images which is very useful when setting convergence. There is also a mini-HDMI output so you can play your 3D footage back on a domestic 3D television.

Material is recorded as Full-HD AVCHD at 28mbits per second in a file format called "MVC" (Multi-View Coding) which carries both streams of HD video. This can be loaded directly into Vegas Pro 10d and is recognised as 3D footage. I did have some problems with this at Dimension3 but I believe that was because we had a pre-production unit. Sony are also working with Cineform to make the format compatible with their Neo3D format.

The HXR-NX3D1 is expected to be released this summer with a street price of around $3000 which I think is amazing for the capabilities of this camera. This will open up 3D production for anyone who would like to get into 3D but who cannot justify the cost of a full sized 3D rig.

There is more (preliminary) information from Sony here.

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