ZDF heads into the 3D age with Die Huberbuam

Die HuberbaumGermany: Public broadcaster ZDF has entered the 3D era with the documentary film Die Huberbuam, writes Geman Correspondent, Birgit Heidsiek. Die Huberbuam, the two brothers Thomas (44) and Alexander (42) Huber, are superstars in the rock climbing community with very much their own climbing style. “You can’t come much closer to a magnesium cloud, flying ropes and dangling mountaineer’s feet than in the 3D-version,” states ZDF in their tagline for the film.

Die Huberbuam was shot in 2D but also in native 3D. The initial kick off to this ambitious project gave the head of culture Peter Aarens and the managing editor Alexander Hesse who were enthusiastic after they had seen 3D documentaries by the BBC about animals. They assigned Jens Monath as director, Claus-Dieter Köppinger as the director of photography and hired the German stereographer Alaric Hamacher with his Virtual Experience team. The crew was looking several months for the perfect camera system which could serve their needs to film climbing shots in 3D.

Their final choice was the SinaCam HDC1-D, a mini-camera (42 mm x 42 mm x 52 mm) capable of HD with C-Mount lenses (fixed focal length graded 5 to 25mm). The SinaCam HDC1-D was used for about 75% of all sequences. The HDSDI video signals of the used camera pair were recorded on two combined Ki Pro and Ki Pro Mini digital recorders from AJA.

Only four days before the shooting started the SinaCam systems were available as functioning prototypes. The SinaCam has been developed by the Bavarian companies Anadicon and Solectrix Systems; both are top addresses for high-end-video systems. Solectrix was decisively involved in the digital development of ARRI’s Alexa. Anadicon developed all video-assistant SD cameras by ARRI for almost 20 years.

The SinaCam HDC1-D will be released in the beginning of November.

“In comparison to other mini camera systems on the market, for example the Iconix, the SinaCam has clear advantages in the dynamism area and the frame resolution,” stresses Oliver Reil, managing director of the Munich reseller PURE4C. The reason is that the camera contains the 2/3-inch CCD sensor by Kodak which records via a Global Shutter in an active resolution from 1920×1080 (complete pixel resolution 2004×1144). The resolution is higher than with all available 2/3-inch 3-chip HD cameras and the sensor is more photosensitive than other 2/3-inch CMOS cameras

For the Huberbuam project the team installed the SinaCam duo in a Freestyle-Rig by P+S. The minicameras were also used in a side-by-side-rig. This became an option since Anadicon started to construct that one week before the shooting actually started.

Furthermore, the SinaCams were used in a Multicopter by Media Creativ. The mini helicopter (www.fluglinse.de) has 16 rotors and can take off easily with up to six kilogrammes. When the ZDF used it, it was loaded with 4.5kg (2x AJA Pro Mini, 2x SinaCam and lightweight processor box). The camera was fixed to a 2-achs-stabilised Remote Head. One operator geared the aircraft, another one the cameras.

‘It was a matter of finding solutions for the control of sharpness and screen of the very small C-Mount lenses, the camera heads had to be adapted to the available S3D-Rigs, even own gamma curve was conceived especially for our purpose,” explains the director of photography. “We were enthusiastic about the pictures of the SinaCam. They are for us, in the end, the key to the success,” adds the production manager, Peter Borig.

During the shooting of this ZDF production the crew also used a set-up with two Panasonic P2 cameras (HPX 2100s) in both mirror and parallel rigs. “The application of the parallel rigs with a minimum distance of about 20cm between both P2 cameras made only sense for wide shots and very distant objects,” underlined Köppinger. In addition, they used the Prosumersystem Panasonic 3 D A1 which unites two optics in a pod, and the effect camera GoPro Hero HD. Two of these mainly in the sports area used consumer cameras were connected in a pod via a synchronous cable. There was only a very wide-angular objective available. The recording occurrs internal on SD cards. “Both cameras with pod clearly weigh less than one kilo and are particularly suited for effect shots,” explained Köppinger. “The very small, light and robust camera was used everywhere where the bigger and heavier systems didn’t work.”

The directors of photography discussed every setting with Alaric Hamacher and his stereographer colleague, Max Laufer, and fixed the parameters resulting from it. “The creation based on my experiences to give depth to two-dimensional pictures, and tried to add a third dimension to these pictures. It was important for me, to use 3D not as a pure effect but to support the story of the film with the new creative elements,” says Köppinger.

“We developed together a concept that every every take was based on a special 3D-idea,” adds Hamacher. “We chose a mix of proven HD technology and absolutely new exposure solutions for this production. The result is a film in which 3D and the visual depth of the space really matter.”

“3D marks the beginning of the beginning of the start in a new, additional dimension of the television experience,”, sums up Andreas Bereczky, production manager at the ZDF. “This start means an unusual challenge for a modern broadcaster, but one that we have accepted with huge curiosity.”

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