Element Technica, best known for their Red accessories, has been working on a 3D camera rig for some months, and was showing it off at the Band Pro 3D event today. The rig is called Quasar, and they discussed their future rigs called Pulsar and Neutron coming in the future (as well as hints of underwater 3D rigs). Lengthy Q&A included, all my raw notes after the jump.
BandPro3D_ElementTechnica – not the greatest pics, I’ve posted better before. but excellent answers down in the Q&A, read on.
Quasar rig – SI-2K, Red, Genesis, F35, 35mm, 16mm, whatever – it’ll handle some big, heavy cameras! Built Superman Tough.
uses standard Arri dovetail interface to mount
is a beam splitter rig
side by side runs 6-12 inches if you wish
mount the plates on the camera,
bottom can do interocular and convergence, but no alignment
left eye camera on top doesn’t move interocular/convergence, but it is the one you align on it
the mirror is adjustable – to find what is 45 degrees to the mount of the lower camera
a mirror gauge fits into PL/B4 to tell when aligned
-alignment process with upper camera, can be confident you’re 45 degrees mirror and cameras are 90 degrees to each other
-once setup and aligned, then calibrate the motor system for realtime interocular & convergence with a handheld FIZ looking thing – the usual focus knob does convergence, the usual iris does interocular
convergence won’t move unless you want it to
can set convergence to 20 feet, but change the IO (interocular) – so it figures out the math and figures it out – the rig does this for you
-using a Preston Follow Focus at the moment in a standard way
-a medium sized rig (about 60% of this size) called Pulsar for sensor block cameras like SI-2K, Epic & Scarlet, ideal for the Sony P1 (HDC-1500 with some stuff on the back). Neutron will be the mini-rig, the whole thing will be smaller than the mirror rig on this one, a perfect hand held. SI-2K with C-mount lenses and motors for interocular, was 13 pounds, less than a 235 package.
Q: with the Neutron, is there a miror size limitation?
A: this particular rig, the widest lens you can use is 16mm (in 35mm equivalent) – if wanted a wider lens, the rig is modular enough to put a bigger mirror box to shoot with a wider lens
Q: what metadata do you collect?
A: at the moment that ET makes the interocular and convergence motors, can read those out throughout the shot, but as far as pulling lens metadata, they are working on their own lens control system, but is not currently available
A: there’s a groove in the front ofthe mirror box to put in an optical flat, as far as filtering individual lenses, clamp filters directly onto the lens – use a screw-on filter, or clamp-ons to allow you to screw on or put on a 4×5
Q: can you use one giant filter across the front?
A: theres a groove for it, but nobody makes one that big – custom NDs would be spendy
Q: if the mirror broke, how long to replace it?
A: how ready are you? if you had a spare mirror box, 2 screws, a 2-3 minute swap out. If you had a spare piece of glass, a row of screws, etc. – 10-15 minutes to unscrew, remove 25 screws, etc.
Q: Setup time? Lens swapouts?
A: Setup varies depends on zoom lenses needing adjustable tracking etc. There was a Keslow shoot where they did a timelapse – Reds with primes – put the cameras on, get the rig aligned, IO and convergence working – from parts on the floor to up and going was about 8 minutes.
Done a setup where (as you see it) – they started around 9am, around 10:30 they were done while answering questions. With zooms and FIZ and track correction the lenses, that took about 2 hours.
Q: rental item?
A: through Kewslow in west coast, Offhollywood on east coast, or for sale
Q: changeover time from mirror box to side by side
A: for the big rig here, is more of a rental house advantage – would probably take half a day (maybe less) – not something to really do back and forth in the field
smaller rigs goal is to be like converting from sticks to steadicam – 10 minutes, etc.
Q: lens control?
A: they don’t provide FIZ currently, working on an integrated solution for convergence, IO, FIZ, and read out all the metadata – not ready yet
Preston and c-motion and arriflex all have stereo lens control available
Q: do those systems provide tracking control and calibration and offsets?
A: c-motion allows for a linear offset but not total zoom tracking., ET’s future system will be integrated with that kind of control solution of their own
Q: So how dealing with zoom tracking?
A: Angenieux Optimos let you set the track perfectly – screws to adjust – make two track perfectly then mount and go. Lenses without those adjustments are harder!
A: transvideo or other flippable system to look through camera that doesn’t move
Convergence puller gets their 3D output separately
Q: why side by side or mirror box?
A: for narrative work – most things shot with a beam splitter – when you need which has to do with the distance you are filming – the closest you can get two Reds together is about 6 inches. If you don’t use a beam splitter, you’re stuck shooting things 40-50 away or further. Sometimes you need an IO of 1/4″ for some shots. Iconix can get very close together, but sometimes you need even closer than that. For filming closer items to camera, cameras need to be closer to each other in GENERAL.
Q: if standardized callibration sequence, or a target for that?
A: they do have a procedure, they have some charts at their office they use, easy to make a chart, square piece of posterboard with a large X through it, maybe 16:9 frame lines. Checks for vertical misalign or rolled. they have a doc for a setup procedure. order of operations is:
1.) Mirror gauge – mount the lower camerra with that gauge, set the lower one on 45 degreees
mount other camera
he likes a difference matte view like the transvideo provides
make sure cameras are same distance from mirror
find two different zero positions for the camera – zero convergence, zero IO, then find vertical alignment – roll and pitch. Lock it once in, callibrate the motor system.
Q: how to determine distance from lens to mirror?
A: looking at the reflections of the lenses in the mirror
Q: suggestion – regarding the target – filter holder in front of the box – get an X on a filter to get’em to align
Q: for Neutron – when a viewale prototype?
A: building some pre-prototypes of what’ll be the Neutron, as when you’ll see a more refined model will be Q1 2010. For a Feb 2010 shoot? Yeah, call me.
(They are in Culver City)
elementtechnica.com – website based around camera accessories, a new website called technica3d.com dedicated to the rigs
Q: with CMOS cameras have rolling shutter/jello effects – what about moving in opposite directions?
A: on the Red, have a rolling shutter that goes top to bottom. If one camera is normal orientation and mounted the 2nd from the bottom, rolling shutter going in opposing directions – the rig is built so that they roll in the same direction so is not an issue – GOOD FIX!!
Q: A lot of traditional 3D rig construction is based on a large “L” configuration. With an L that big, the rig can flex with a heavy camera mounted – can create misalignment. Their rig has a shorter L and is shorter, lighter, and stronger to disallow flex. Not all cameras can be mounted from the top, so an F900 or something – can be mounted from the bottom and attached to the top. Phantoms can be an issue
Q: how rigid?
A: shot some tests in Alaska and mounted rig on a Hummer on a dirt road and he almost fell off, the rig stayed in alignment. Can take quite a bit of abuse – cameras won’t move. been ACLFest and Alaska – that’ll cover the range!
for rain, they’ll have proper mirror flags – made long extensions to that to keep the rain off the mirror, used shower curtains, etc. to keep the rain off
is easy in post to fix a roll, super hard to fix a divergence issue – vertically offset and tilted up – so some things are aligned in foreground and misconverged in the background – at that point is a VFX shot to fix
Q: underwater housing?
A: Element has experience for IMAX, 35mm, Red, etc. for underwater, is something they intend to provide
39.5 pounds with their motors for IO and convergence – that is weight BEFORE cameras, lenses, FIZ motors, etc. – took two guys to carry it off stage with cameras and schtuff on it (nope, legs/head carried separately!!!)
This is, AFAIK, the nicest 3D rig commercially purchaseable. There are other rigs rentable, but from what limited info I have, this seems to be more flexible/accomodating/camera agnostic. Am I wrong? Let me know and I’ll update!!!