Panasonic Begins Booking 3D Business

Panasonic, which made a big splash at the Consumer Electronics Show
last month by demonstrating a $21,000, dual-lens 3D camcorder alongside
consumer 3D HD sets, announced Thursday (Feb. 11) that it is now ready
to take orders.

Starting Thursday, interested buyers can place a
non-refundable $1,000 deposit with Panasonic Broadcast to reserve one of
the AG-3DA1 units, which begin shipping in September. The camera weighs
less than 6.6 pounds and records the left- and right-eye images
necessary for 3D on separate SDHC/SD solid-state memory cards using
AVCHD compression. It also features dual HD-SDI uncompressed outputs,
suitable for feeding into transmission equipment for live production. It
also has a remote control that allows an operator to dynamically adjust
the camera's "convergence point" and change the depth of field
experienced in 3D images.

While Panasonic's higher-end VariCam units
are already employed in specialized 3D camera rigs that use two cameras,
the company decided to develop the integrated, dual-lens camcorder to
"try to simplify 3D production and bring it more into the mainstream
market," says Panasonic Broadcast VP of Marketing and Business Expansion
Bob Harris. Harris says that Panasonic may eventually create a
higher-end 3D HD camera for live production, but for now was getting a
lot of interest in the affordable AG-3DA1.
"We've been getting lots
of calls," says Harris. "People say they want to buy the camera now-it's
amazing how much demand is out there."
In that vein, Panasonic has
also introduced a professional 25.5-inch LCD production monitor, the
BT-3DL2550, which is equipped with a polarizing film that allows 3D
images to be viewed with simple passive glasses. The monitor, which
features full 1920 x 1200 resolution, can also be used to display 2D
left-and right-eye images in a side-by-side fashion. It will also ship
in September at a suggested list price of $9,900.
Panasonic has also
developed two companion products for its popular P2 HD solid-state
camcorders that are designed to make the field-production workflow
easier. One, the AJ-PCD2, is a single-slot P2 solid-state memory card
drive that can connect to a desktop or laptop computer via USB 2.0
cables to allow rapid file transfers from a P2 card for editing and
storage. It will be available in April at a suggested list price of
The other companion product is the AG-MSU10 portable P2 media
storage unit, which is designed to facilitate the fast back-up of
content from a P2 camcorder in the field without requiring a computer or
other external device. The battery-operated MSU10 will have a slot for a
P2 card and another for a large, removable 2.5" SATA solid-state drive
(Panasonic is still deciding on the exact specifications), and can
connect to PCs and laptops through USB 2.0 and eSATA connectors. It
features a 3.2" LCD screen, to provide thumbnail display of P2 files,
and supports master-quality 10 bit AVC-Intra (100/50) and DVCPRO HD,
DVCPRO50, DVCPRO and DV recording formats. It will allow content to be
transferred from a P2 card to the solid-state drive at four times
real-time when recording in AVC-Intra 100 or DVCPRO HD.
The MSU10
will be available in October at a suggested list price of $2500.
a P2 card offload device, and it aggregates content from multiple
cards," explains Joe Facchini, VP of sales and product management for
Panasonic Broadcast. "If you're shooting documentary style, you tend to
shoot a lot of content and you want to put it in one place. Right now,
you're shipping it in a shoebox back to the office. This solves that."