Veteran Filmmaker Fred Blurton Gives Panasonic 3D Camcorder an Early Test Run

Director Fred Blurton, principal of Fred Blurton Productions of Chicago, IL, recently utilized a pre-production model of Panasonic’s AG-3DA1 Full HD 3D camcorder to shoot a music video with bluegrass musician Brian Hilligoss, demo stand-ups with investigative journalist Bill Kurtis, and several Chicago scenics.

“The ability to shoot 3D quickly and affordably with the 3DA1 is amazing,” Blurton says. “Prior to working with the 3DA1, I stayed away from shooting 3D because of the requisite cost and complexity, and my clientele’s reluctance to spend big bucks on it. The Panasonic 3DA1 will be a genuine game-changer.”

Blurton is an award-winning media director whose work has earned Telly and New York Festivals Advertising Awards. For the past two years, he has offered his clients a service called zspace 3D, whereby he has delivered 2D to 3D conversion of graphic material.

The AG-3DA1, available Aug. 27, is the world’s first professional, fully-integrated Full HD 3D camcorder recording to SD card media. The AG-3DA1 allows gives professional videographers an affordable, flexible, reliable and easy-to-use tool for capturing 3D content. The camera circumvents large-scale 3D systems that require two cameras and two recorders. In the AG-3DA1, the lenses, camera head, and a dual Memory Card recorder are integrated into a single, lightweight body. The camcorder also incorporates stereoscopic adjustment controls.

“The 3DA1 is very easy to use very quickly,” Blurton says. “Basically, you set the convergence and away you go. You can achieve really good convergence by using the camcorder’s mix function. In terms of depth and convergence, I think the 3DA1 delivers as good as what anyone’s shooting in 3D today.”

Blurton shot the Chicago scenes and the Kurtis stand-ups single-operator style, equipped with just the 3DA1 and a tripod. The music video with bluegrass musician Hilligoss and his eight-piece acoustic band was shot full production style, with the 3DA1 operating on a dolly and jib arm, at Chicago’s Resolution Digital Studios, with Sid Lubitsch as director of photography and Mark Markley as gaffer. He shot B roll footage for the “Leave Your heart at Home” video in a small city apartment. Shooting time for the production encompassed one day in the studios and six hours on location.

“Typically on jobs, I function as the producer/director and don’t usually shoot,” says Blurton, “but when I take delivery of the 3DA1, I have the confidence that I can shoot material myself that looks so, so good. I can essentially work as a one-man crew; I won’t need three guys on a rig.”

Having worked with the 3DA1 for little more than a week, Blurton now has four minutes of 3D travelogue minutes that he will use to promote his company’s 3D capabilities; Hilligoss will have a 3.40 minute 3D music video for demo purposes; and Blurton was able to demonstrate to Kurtis (the television journalist and former CBS News anchor is the current host of A&E crime and news shows) that the 3DA1 was well-suited for his streamlined documentary work.

“With a mirrored rig, aberrations are inherent,” he says. “You expect to see some vertical shift and rotational misalignment, and simply plan on dealing with that in post. What’s really amazing with the 3DA1 is that the dual lenses and two imagers are aligned internally and line up perfectly. In terms of editorial, there’s no need to ‘fix it in post.’”

“Because I’ve done plenty of work with 3D graphics, I tried out in-camera effects and was very impressed with how crisp and clean the video is,” he says. “There’s no artifacting in 3D mode.”

Experienced as he is with 3D post-production and assured that the 3DA1 is totally aligned vertically and rotationally, Blurton said he is able to do “pretty traditional” editing in Adobe After Effects and Final Cut Pro.

“During the music video shoot, I was working with a pre-production model of Panasonic’s 25” 3D monitor in the video village area,” he says. “I’d look at the convergence through the camera, then come back and confirm on the 3D monitor. One of my colleagues said, ‘That’s the best 3D I’ve ever seen!’ My sentiments exactly.”