3D camera mirror rigs


3D camera mirror rigs will be around for a long time to come and contrary to popular belief, shooting in 3D is very easy with the right equipment.
Entry level 3D mirror rigs made in the UK are now available, such as the manual Hurricane Rig developed by Alistair Chapman and the fully automated 'BINORIG' developed by us at Teletest Ltd.
The key to any good 3D picture image is aligning the two cameras accurately. The left hand camera is mounted looking up into a mirror (meaning the image output is "mirrored" or "flipped" and the right hand camera looks through the mirror.
Aligning the cameras can be done in a number of ways:
"Cheap and cheerful" by viewing the left hand image on a monitor, making marks using a chinagraph pencil, and then viewing the right hand image on the same monitor and adjusting accordingly. However the left hand camera will always be viewed in reverse on a monitor unless you have an EX-1R (which flips the image inside the camera) or you have a monitor which can flip the image.
Whichever way you set up in this method, the final alignment of the two cameras will always have to be done in 'Post' where image manipulation and distortion will always be needed. This is expensive, reduces the quality of the image (due to the manipulation) and very rarely provides the high quality results broadcasters are looking for.
"Expensive and bulky" by using a 50" consumer passive 3D TV (about £1,250 ex VAT from eg LG) and a Stereo Brain (about £2,500 ex VAT from Inition). The Stereo Brain 'flips' the image from the left hand camera and then interlaces the two pictures together so they can be seen on the 3D TV using circular polarised glasses.
Whilst this is a very expensive and bulky solution requiring mains power and someone to set up, the image alignment can be perfect - with the added bonus of a director's screen identical to that found in the home. This means that the director can watch the 3D effect and be 100% satisfied with the results.
"Portable and accurate" by using a dedicated 3D portable LCD monitor for under £2,000 ex VAT, which we at Teletest are launching at BVE 2011, with the following built in features:
1) A built in "flipping" facility for the left hand camera
2) An overlay facility so you can align both left and right cameras up over each other
3) A zoom facility so you can enlarge parts of the picture pixel to pixel to ensure ultmate image alignment accuracy
4) An anaglyph facility so the director can watch the 3D effect using the red and blue 3D glasses
This is an affordable but very accurate solution which can be used by a camraman on his own.
To summarise, unless you capture the images with the cameras lined up accurately, you can spend a fortune in 'Post' correcting the images and in the worst case, waste a days filming. With the addition of useful, affordable and portable 3D mirror rigs and alignment tools, 3D is starting to become accessable to the freelance cameraman.
BVE2011 will be showcasing many of these new affordable and accessible 3D products, and I believe this year will be the turning point for 3D filming and production by freelancers for the broadcast, commercial and corporate sectors.

Tags: 3D | camera mirror rigs | binorig | alistair chapman | iss050 | N/A
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