April 29, 2009 While the popularity of 3D movies has had more ups and downs than a roller coaster, the technology is experiencing a resurgence in popularity with Hollywood scrambling to generate more 3D content. The latest manufacturer taking the ride up is Panasonic. The electronics giant has announced it will start developing a professional 3D Full HD production system consisting of a twin-lens P2 professional camera recorder and a 3D-compatible High Definition Plasma display.

With their P2 camera, Panasonic is aiming to make capturing live 3D images a lot easier for 3D content producers who presently have to hand-build their own 3D production systems by physically connecting multiple 2D cameras.

The Panasonic camera will feature no moving parts and is expected to be compact enough to allow more flexible 3D shooting. It will also enable recording of two channels of Full HD images on the P2 card. On the display front Panasonic’s 3D Drive System enables Full HD moving pictures to be shown for the left and the right eyes, so large screen 3D viewing will become possible.

While forms of 3D films have been shown as far back as the 1920s, it wasn’t until the early 1950s that they truly became popular. However, technical difficulties in keeping synchronization between the two required prints coupled with the generally low quality of movies saw the 3D craze quickly fade. Technical advances, however, revived 3D at regular intervals, with the latest renewed interest driven largely by improved 3D glasses. The glasses, which use LCD shutters, perfectly synchronize with the onscreen images. As well, 3D computer-animated films, which have proved a popular source of 3D material in recent times, are much easier to produce compared to live action films.

While Hollywood is using 3D as a filip to attract audiences back to the cinema, it may only have a brief window of opportunity before 3D makes its way into the home as well. Panasonic debuted the world's first 3D Full HD Plasma Home Theater System at CEATEC last year and other manufacturers are busy developing a range of 3D displays using a variety of different technologies. While the 3D roller coaster looks to be well and truly on the up again, the challenge for 3D is whether the technology can sustain its popularity over time.

Panasonic displayed a prototype of the 3D Full HD twin lens P2 professional camera recorder at the recent NAB 2009 conference in Las Vegas – so it won’t be too long before we have knives, bullets or some other frightening object coming right at us, courtesy of Panasonic 3D know-how.

Darren Quick

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