Florida State Goes 3D

Florida State football coaches will soon have a new perspective, 3D. The school, which has been experimenting with 3D for five years and has been producing 3D highlight videos for recruiting prospects for the past three, is stepping up its activity with the recent acquisition of Panasonic’s AG-3DA1 integrated twin-lens 3D camera recorder. With the new camera, Seminole Productions is working toward using 3D for coaches’ videos and training.

FSU’s early 3D work deployed a parallel rig, cameras set up side-by-side. “That’s very time-consuming,” explains Mark Rodin, director of Seminole Productions and a member of the faculty in the Department of Communications. “Even to get 10 minutes of footage was hours and hours of editing.”

For three years, Seminole Productions has created highlight videos primarily for recruiting and presentations to booster clubs. “We built a 3D theater in our football projection room. It’s a wow-factor kind of thing,” says Rodin.

More recently, the production group has been exploring production and editing solutions to speed the process and allow it to grow the applications of 3D beyond the wow factor. “One of the biggest struggles we had was the alignment of footage shooting with parallel rigs,” he says.

Last spring, working with Quantel, the group tested postproduction processes to speed the turnaround of 3D material.

“Coach [Jimbo] Fisher loves 3D,” Rodin points out. “He thinks it’s a great thing for scouting acquisition and for training. With Coach Fisher, we did some testing. He was amazed at how much more you could see with 3D.”

But editing turnaround is key to using 3D for coaches’ review and training. “The big issue is timeliness,” says Rodin.

The Quantel tests proved that material could be edited quickly. “We did a proof-of-concept: could we do football practices and get it to the coaches within an hour?” he reports.

The addition of the Panasonic AG-3DA1 is further improving efficiency. “The camera makes it infinitely faster,” Rodin says. “It’s pretty well aligned from the time we put it in the system. Editing is quicker, user-friendly.”

While still working with Quantel on development, Seminole Productions is editing on Apple Final Cut Pro and working with Cineform Neo3D editing workflow.

Rodin says the Panasonic camera offers greater shooting capability. “With the parallel, the size and weight were limiting. With this camera, we can shoot hand-held. It makes it easier.”

Although Seminole Productions is continuing production of highlight tapes (a new one premiered last weekend), the production of coaches’ tapes is “still experimental,” says Rodin. “We’re still experimenting with angles.”

He and his team are also working with manufacturers and vendors to “develop a system that will enable us to get the coaches’ video the way they want it, without reinventing the wheel. From a hardware standpoint, we’re trying to find a system where you can feed 14 coaches’ rooms with 3D files.”

Around campus, the 3D application for coaching is garnering interest from other sports, including women’s basketball and soccer. “Any coach who sees 3D gets it right away, and they love it,” says Rodin. “From a teaching standpoint, to have that depth that you now get in 3D is just a great view for teaching and instruction.”

And, he adds, “this is not an application that was really on the radar for a lot of companies.”

In addition to developing the best use of 3D for coaching, Rodin is also looking to upgrade the school’s 3D theater, and he plans to start teaching a limited 3D program in the spring. By next fall, he hopes to have a full 3D curriculum established at FSU.

“I don’t know of anyone else who is doing this in this way,” Rodin says. “Jimbo Fisher wants to use this as an advantage. He wants us to be at the forefront.”