Educating in the third dimension

December 18, 2011

One again, it’s been a while since I posted.  Please accept my humble apologies.  To make it up to you all, here are two articles in one:

Terry Freedman from ICT in asked me to write an article for their  Computers in Classrooms newsletter.  It’s a special 3D edition.

Here’s a direct link to my article although the rest of the magazine is worth viewing too.

In the article, I talk about the Panasonic T750 Camcorder:

Panasonic T750 3D camcorder

The camcorder comes with a 3D lens attachment, so you can use it as a regular 2D camera as well.  Surprisingly, Five’s Gadget Show didn’t think much of this model (preferring the Sony camcorder) on TV at least.  The online review seems a little more accomodating.  Which I think overlooked some key points:

  • As a 2D video camera, the quality is excellent.  It has 3 CMOS sensors and can record in 1080p which makes chromakeying (i.e. greenscreen) very easy.  I’ve always been a fan of Panasonic cameras, they seem to understand what’s actually important.  It’s a slight shame the camera doesn’t have a SD mode.   As a school, we have no need of HD quality, where filesize is as important as quality.  Don’t get me wrong, we don’t sacrifice quality, it’s just that I’m not in the business of delivering broadcast-quality content.
  • Panasonic (unlike Sony) use an open-source recording codec.   This allows editing in Adobe Premiere Pro without having to convert the video beforehand.  This is a huge time- and quality-saver.

We picked up the camcorder for around £500 + VAT (you have to shop around and we have an excellent finance department who do just that).   For that price, we got two cameras in one.

The recordings are side-by-side, which makes incorporating the video into my existing Cinema4D’s workflow really straightforward.  What is most suprising is just how effective the depth of the video is.  We mounted the camera on the front of a boat which passed under the Tyne’s Milennium footbridge.

It’s not a view most people get to see and it really impressed our staff and students.

If you have the free time and the budget, you can buy 3D software like Cinema4D and start making animations for yourself.  And of course, there are now dozens of S3D-content suppliers (if their content works with your system) and if you have the free time and the budget, you can wade through these resources to find the occasional gems.  But if you buy a 3D camcorder, you can immediately start creating content for yourself.   (Or hand the camera over to your students to see what they can do.)

And of course, self-created content is free!