Panasonic 3D Technology Demo

I had the opportunity to attend a demo of Panasonics newest 3D technologies including the AG-3DA1 3D Camera and a Massive 3D display. Learned a few things about the technology and the use of 3D video. Although the $21,000 price tag on the camera will scare most educators out of the market, Panasonic has done an amazing job bringing The 3D Rig to the masses. I for one was impressed. The 3d images that were produced from this camera were amazing. The display was incredible. And the 3D effects were stoopid cool. I can see a million and one uses for this technology in medicine, geography, fine arts, you name it. If eMAP, the media specialist group at the University of Saskatchewan and host’s of the 3D demo event, want to buy one of these camera’s I will find some courses to make use of them.

The only major hurdle is the delivery of 3D content. As with HD when it was new, delivering 3D content to students, who will not be affording the $4000 plasmas capable of this content, will be a challenge. YouTube has developed code to deliver 3D content in various formats, but ultimately we are taking what is an incredible 3D image and making it acceptable. Using the “space age” glasses (yes the rep from Panasonic actually said, space age. Sooo the 1960’s or newer.) with the plasma screen worked amazingly well. But if you compress the video to YouTube and display it using the old cyan and red glasses or the cross-eyed method instead of the polarized glasses or better yet the Frame Sequential Method, you’ve basically gone back to the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Real Space Age Technology. Something to consider anyway. Maybe we’ll all have 3D televisions next year, maybe not. Either way the technology is there and as always with enough capital budget, educators could find some amazing ways to bring content pop.

3D Video for the Masses

So with a background in Film & Video Production one thing that has always fascinated me has been the world of 3D images. Maintaining the third dimension when creating visual representations of objects seems like a logical and worthy pursuit. After all, seeing the true relational depth of objects gives us a much better understanding of that objects true nature. From View-Masters, to movies, to Virtual Reality promises I’ve always been a sucker for the third dimension. The problem, until recently, has always been the headache factor. I remember seeing an original print of the Creature from the Black Lagoon at an art house film theatre in Edmonton where 20 minutes into the killer B action the glasses came off and I watched most of the remainder of the film in double vision, red and cyan.

But today’s technology of polarized fields seems to be giving new life to a retro concept. Movies like Avatar put 3D back on the map and have electronics companies pushing 3D capabilities into their products. Toshiba, Sony, LG, Samsung and Panasonic all added 3D capabilities to their higher end televisions and laptops this year and expect the demand to increase. YouTube developers have added 3D support to their web-player allowing you to upload 3D content and have the player change the viewing format from stereoscopic to red/cyan to a head spitting “crossed eyes” option and a host of other formats. Fuji has delivered the FinePix Real 3D W1 to consumers which produces not only 3D still images, but videos as well. The camera outputs a multitude of formats and brings 3D to the masses in a big way.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qz0d-xcICKE]

Another consumer level 3D product is the Minoru 3D Web-cam which allows you to not only record 3D videos, but takes video streaming into the 3rd dimension as well. VoIP services like Skype and Live Messenger support these camera and allow you to share 3D video images to your audience. At a cool price of around $60 these things are a pretty cool way to get started in the world of 3D.

Recently I’ve been hearing more about 3D video in education. Recently at NMC Kellie Welborn from Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis, presented a massive product comparison of 3D video streaming services that they had been testing. See more here. Recently I was asked about 3D video technology as part of my role as an Instructional Designer here at the Centre for Continuing and Distance Education, University of Saskatchewan.

So this is where the conversation begins. What possible innovation could affordable 3D video add to your institutions technology tool box. We’re seeing medicine pick up on it as part of online labs, but what other uses can you think of for this technology. As an aside there seems to be very little in the way of literature on this topic so if anyone knows of an article written on the pedagogical implications of 3D video please post a link in the comments. What do we think?