Case Study: Providing an Open-Access Uncompressed 3D HD Video Library
By Alex Joseski and Jonathan Burton, Alex and Jono Films
When we first met at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, we were simply two friends who shared a passion for filmmaking. Fast forward five years, and we are at the helm of Alex and Jono Films, a Melbourne-based concept-to-completion video production company.
With a variety of projects under our belts, such as music videos, feature and short films, advertising campaigns, promotional materials and corporate productions, we jumped at the chance to act as stereographers and directors of photography for our alma mater’s RMIT3DV project: the creation of an uncompressed stereoscopic 3D HD video library.
The content was natively filmed in 3D on location using a Panasonic AG-3DA1 3D camera with integrated twin lenses. The compressed content was recorded onto the camera’s internal SD cards for preview purposes, while the uncompressed content was externally recorded using two Blackmagic Design HyperDeck Shuttle SSD video recorders via dual HD-SDI. Once off location, editing and post production were completed using Final Cut Pro, with edited sequences previewed via Sony Vegas Pro on a Panasonic BT-3DL2550 3D monitor. Sequences are 1920 x 1080 HD resolution, 10-bit 4:2:2 YUV at 25fps.
Cooperation, Not Competition
As a global university of technology and design, and Australia’s largest tertiary institution, RMIT is a leader in outcome-oriented research. Always looking to develop new fields and technologies, the university began researching the standardisation of 3D signal processing and coding, but quickly realised that there was a lack of available 3D content aside from Hollywood features. These were difficult for the university to access, let alone the general public.
Equipped with research funding from Smart Services Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), RMIT took it upon itself to remedy the situation by developing the RMIT3DV project. Led by Professor Ian Burnett, the university’s Head of School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Eva Cheng, lead project researcher, the RMIT3DV project involved the creation of a library of uncompressed stereoscopic 3D HD video available to anyone via a free download under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
As the stereographers and directors of photography on the project, it was up to us to ensure certain requirements were met. First and foremost, it was essential that the library offer uncompressed video since a wide variety of users from around the globe would access the content, and it needed to be as flexible as possible.
We needed to capture the footage in an uncompressed format that could be worked on as soon as it came out of the camera, and the HyperDeck Shuttle allowed us to achieve that. By preserving the integrity of the original source, users can take the uncompressed footage and convert it to whatever format they need, erasing any limitations and furthering the realm of possibilities and the scope of research.
The RMIT 3D library is one of the largest that is publicly available for 3D research, and the Creative Commons license means that anyone can use it, not just industry players – it is about cooperation not competition. There are universities all over Europe that are experimenting and doing their own tests with the footage, so we needed to make sure that anyone was able to use it any way they wanted, which is why the HyperDeck Shuttle’s uncompressed recording capability was the logical choice.
Taking to the Streets
Although research driven, the RMIT3DV project had a creative side to it as RMIT requested that the footage include interesting topics, be visually stimulating and have variety. In order to achieve this, we took to the streets of Melbourne to shoot the footage, for which workflow portability was key.
While a group in Europe was doing something similar, they were stuck in a studio because their workflow wasn’t portable, and we needed to do the exact opposite. The HyperDeck Shuttle’s compact form factor really opened up our workflow to new dimensions and allowed us to remain untethered and shoot anywhere we wanted, and this portability helped us deliver the footage RMIT wanted.
The HyperDeck Shuttle also allowed us to stay on budget. As the project was being funded via the Smart Services CRC, it was important to keep costs in mind. The equipment needed to be affordable, and the HyperDeck Shuttle delivered all of the project’s requirements at the right price.
Since graduating from RMIT, we’ve kept in contact with the faculty and are often asked to consult on the curriculum and supervise new students when teachers are busy. RMIT gave so much to us that we are happy to give back, especially to the proliferation of stereoscopic film.
It is an amazing feeling to have been a student and to now be a collaborator, and we get the added bonus of helping to create a groundbreaking 3D library, which will help advance the study and creation of 3D technologies in film.
Alex Joseski and Jonathan Burton are producers at Alex and Jono Films, a Melbourne-based video production company that specialises in cinematography, direction and post production, providing prospective and current clients with the creativity and expertise needed for video production from concept to completion.
For more information about the RMIT3DV project, please visit: