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AIX Records Shoots First 3D Music Albums with Test of Panasonic's New AG-3DA1 Full HD 3D Camcorders

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News : AIX Records Shoots First 3D Music Albums with Test of Panasonic's New AG-3DA1 Full HD 3D Camcorders

Blu-ray 3Ds™ feature Rita Coolidge, Mark Chesnutt in Intimate Performances for Home Entertainment

Last Updated: September 2, 2010 6:22 pm GMT
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(Secaucus, New Jersey--September 2, 2010) AIX Media Group (Los Angeles, CA), a full-service digital media production company specializing in the development of DVD-Audio/Video and Blu-Ray discs, recently shot the first 3D Music Albums™ with four pre-production models of Panasonic’s AG-3DA1 Full HD 3D camcorder.

AIX founder/principal Mark Waldrep, Ph.D. produced and directed a three-day shoot at Los Angeles’ Colburn School for the Performing Arts' Zipper Auditorium that will result in six discrete Blu-ray 3D™ discs featuring such top musical talent as Grammy-winning pop artist Rita Coolidge and multi-platinum country artist Mark Chesnutt.

AIX has garnered widespread recognition for its uncompromising attention to fidelity and surround sound from customers, reviewers and equipment manufacturers. Tracks from the label have been licensed and used by Intel, Microsoft, Creative Labs, Acura, and others to show off the advancement of audio technology and ultimate reproduction of music.

“I believe we’re the only label on the planet to create HD ‘albums’ of music that are not ‘live’ concerts but rather private performances intended for one’s own media room,” said Waldrep. “The idea is to have an artist play and sing directly to you from across the room, not come blasting through a couple of speakers from a PA system.”

“The next challenge for us was to add a third dimension to our HD albums,” he continued. “I planned a project for late spring in Los Angeles where I would shoot source material for these 3D music Blu-ray discs--personal, intimate performances with great surround sound and HD video shot in 3D. I had planned to rent 3D beam-splitter rigs at significant expense, but was able to obtain the four 3DA1s, as well as four pre-production BT-3DL2550 3D monitors, from Panasonic.

“The consequence was that I was able to simplify production on a tightly-orchestrated shoot, speed up the workflow, have ultimate confidence in what we were seeing on the 3D monitors and increase efficiencies in post-production.”

The AG-3DA1, which began shipping in late August, is the world's first professional, fully-integrated Full HD 3D camcorder recording to SD card media. The AG-3DA1 has the potential to democratize 3D production by giving professional videographers a more affordable, flexible, reliable and easy-to-use tool for capturing immersive content.

Current 3D systems are large-scale setups in which two cameras are fitted to a rig in parallel, or vertically intersect across a half-mirror. Separate recorders are also required.

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 making it easier to use and operate.

Beyond Coolidge (and her 11-piece band plus back-up singers) and Chesnutt (with six-piece band), the musical artists who performed at Zipper included jazz/classical group Free Flight with James Walker, classical pianist Bryan Pezzone, The Old Towne String Quartet, and the AIX All Stars with various top-notch artists combining their talents.

Producer/director Waldrep’s technical staff on the shoot included Stereographer Dave Gregory, Director of Photography Greg Le Duc, camera operators Jonathan Abrams and Andy Parke, and jib operator Kelly Herrin. Waldrep is handling all post-production and BD 3D authoring at AIX. The workflow during post is to Log and Transfer the AVCHD files through Final Cut Pro 7 into Apple ProRes 422 HQ files for editing and then maintain Apple ProRes 422 HQ all the way to the MVC encoder.

Gregory has a distinguished VFX background that encompasses contributing to the visual effects in the original Star Wars, compositing blue screen shots for Star Trek the Motion Picture and burning the moon over New York's skyline in Moonstruck. A Stereographer since 1983, he was the 3D DP/Operator on the 2008 pilot-shoot for the upcoming 3D documentary, Running with the Bulls.

“I might have loved to have had a few beam-splitter rigs from Element Technica for the AIX project, but the cost would have come close to eating Mark's entire budget, so we needed to consider another approach,” Gregory said. “Knowing that he needed speed and camera mobility on the set and a minimum of tweaking in post, I recommended that he look into the possibility of obtaining a few of the Panasonic 3DA1s.

“We couldn’t have done this project without this camcorder,” Gregory said. “Its images are excellent, and the camera's lenses are aligned so well that you don’t have to fix rotations or compensate for vertical parallax in post. Seeing that the AVCHD files beautifully transcode to ProRes and CineForm, I am now convinced that the camcorder is perfectly acceptable for fully professional 3D television production and may have the potential to be a serious tool for independent 3D feature filmmaking. Of course, one certainly must understand how to shoot 3D properly with a standard fixed Inter-Axial, but that information is out there for those who seek it. The 3D range calculator that is built into the camera will be a great help to many.”

DP Le Duc is a veteran camera operator, Local 600 member, and experienced Panasonic P2 HD handheld shooter. “The 3DA1 performed beyond my expectations,” he said. “We got a great look, and the cameras are easy to set up and operate. As a camera operator, I can vouch for their ease of use. We only had the cameras for a half day of prep, yet that was sufficient time to get familiar with them.”

“The 3DA1’s small size and light weight are ideal for indie productions, or any production that has to move fast (such as ours) or work in tight places,” Le Duc added. “We only had one camera operator per camera and required no second or third assist cameraman for focus or convergence, which saved on crew cost and time.
“The camera worked well on our jib arm, as well as on our small dolly and small camera slider, where a bigger rig and multi-camera set-up would have been difficult. The ability to quickly set convergence was amazing. It’s a real run and gun 3D camera!”

Greg Le Duc shot at 1080p/30 rather than 1080p/24 in order to capture smoother motion, especially from the drummer and the guitarists' fingers. The video will be downconverted to 720p at 59.94 to conform to Blu-ray 3D specs.

“The camera handled the 3D aspects of the production exceptionally,” the DP noted. “We checked our compositions before rolling. Dave Gregory determined the convergence setting for each camera and kept a constant watch for excessive positive-parallax in the background. We never had to stop shooting other than to change batteries. Unlike some current cameras that overheat, or have a short recording time, the 3DA1 was a champ: with the 32GB SD cards we could record for hours and there was never an issue with the camera getting hot or shutting down. Also, it was good on power consumption; batteries lasted so we could go a long time between changes.”

“One of the features that I really like on the 3DA1 is the two HD-SDI connectors that on a future production would allow me to record to an external uncompressed format, e.g., D-5 HD, so while recording in-camera we could also create an additional uncompressed master,” he said.

Waldrep finished the music mixes, video edit and convergence tweaks on Goldberg Variations Acoustica, one of the titles shot in June and released it on Blu-ray 3D as world's first 3D Music Album™ on August 3, 2010. He plans to make up to six 3D Music Albums available over the next four months, and to have an audio calibration and sampler disc available by the time the Consumer Electronics Association does its “3D Demo Days” campaign in September.

“The 3DA1 camcorder represents a success story for the little guy,” Waldrep said. “It’s making it possible for a small company such as ours to produce a suite of 3D products of audiophile quality for a diverse, potentially large-scale public.”

About AIX Records/AIX Media Group
AIX Records, an award-winning, Los Angeles-based audiophile record label, was founded over 10 years ago and specializes in recording and releasing high definition, multichannel music titles on DVD-Audio/Video and more recently Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D™. AIX has one of the largest catalogs of new HD audio productions accompanied with HD video. AIX Media Group, the parent company, is the production company responsible for many entertainment media firsts including the first enhanced CD-Audio disc, the production and release of the first DVD-Video title in March of 1997, the first DVD-Audio disc, the first music Blu-ray title and the first 3D Music Album™. Please visit http://www.aixrecords.com for additional information.

About the AG-3DA1
The AG-3DA1 is the world's first professional, fully-integrated Full HD 3D camcorder that records to SD card media. The AG-3DA1 will democratize 3D production by giving professional videographers a more affordable, flexible, reliable and easier-to-use tool for capturing immersive content as well as providing a training tool for educators. At less than 6.6 pounds, the AG-3DA1 is equipped with dual lenses and two full 1920 x 1080 2.07 megapixel 3-MOS imagers to record 1080/60i, 50i, 30p, 25p and 24p (native) and 720/60p and 50p in AVCHD. It can record for up to 180 minutes on dual 32GB SD cards in Panasonic's professional AVCHD PH mode, and offers professional interfaces including dual HD-SDI out, HDMI (version 1.4), two XLR connectors, built-in stereo microphone and twin-lens camera remotes. For more information, visit http://www.panasonic.com/broadcast.

For more information on Panasonic professional video products, please visit http://www.panasonic.com/broadcast, or call 877-803-8492.

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