3D Video or 3D Stills? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 07-01-2012, 03:08 AM - Thread Starter
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I started these thoughts in the thread on the Panasonic 3D1, but I think it is of general interest, given many cameras have the capability to take stills and videos or it is easy to take two cameras. Most people seem to be taking 3D videos, but often it is not clear why. But when to take stills and when to take videos?

Stills advantages, when the subjects are also still:

1. Higher resolution. You can shoot in much higher resolution, even >4k. The 3D1, for example, shoots 3D 16:9 stills at 3264x1840 per eye. This is close to the digital cinema 4K standard of 3996x2160, and significantly better than HD video, at 1920x1080. So when people are admiring the great resolution of videos taken of static subjects (for example, gardens), you can do better just using high megapixel still cameras, which will look better even downrezzed.

2. Better 3D. You can use cha-cha, and thus effectively vary the ia appropriately, getting better 3D and higher resolution. This solves the problem of having to buy expensive and cumbersome add-ons for video cameras, when the subject (e.g., a garden or parked cars) are static.

3. Better low-light performance. For stills, and again static subjects, you can use shutter speeds that are very low. For example, handheld you can shoot at 1/8th of a second and get sharp pictures at relatively low iso's. For video, you need a minimum shutter speed of 1/48th of a second - that is, 8X more light is used for the stills; the video must instead push up the gain, with consequent noise and NR blurring.

4. Sharing is at least as good. You can make a 3D video slide show with your stills. If the subjects are static (e.g. gardens), nothing is lost. You can even add a soundtrack and order the pictures to tell a story.

Video advantages, when there is action.

1. You can convey motion. Of course, if the subjects are static (e.g. a garden), then what is the point? But if there is movement - sports, playing, dance, any
movement or activity - then stills basically just freeze action, unannaturally. Now, sometimes videos of static subjects (e.g. garden, parked cars) try to introduce motion by moving the camera. This is often done for no good purpose, and in 3D, camera motion is particularly bad. Repetive sliding or panning or zooming is especially annoying. You do not need such movement if there is actually something going on, except perhaps to track better a moving subject (not a flower or a rock formation).

2. There is sound. Video cameras also capture the sound of the environment being shot. The sound and video much better captures the sense(s) of the place than static still shots without sound. 3D combined with surround sound puts you at the place much better than frozen stills. However, many people's videos throw out the in-place audio track and replace the actual sound with music, thereby losing a large component of experience. Music can enhance a video, but not if all ambient sound is lost. There is nothing more boring than a video with static subject after static subject accompanied only by music. Except in special cases, we have talkies now.

Enough theory. How about a real comparison?

Here are a 3D video and a 3D slide show from 3D stills of a China shopping mall, inside and out. This is a subject that is not inherently interesting, so a challenge.

There are people moving about, of course, and in the video camera tricks are also used to add motion - some gentle panning to follow a moving subject - and use of an escalator to get smooth action. The video also records the sound of the mall. The slide show has no sound.

Which is more interesting?

The video:

The video slide show:

You can see just from the frame grabs above, which has the higher resolution, even in Youtube.
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post #2 of 10 Old 07-01-2012, 04:20 AM
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I downloaded both from YouTube at the maximum resolution and then played them on a shutter glasses Panasonic plasma, and a passive 3D LED TV. The stills came up darker on my displays, but were more detailed.

However, the video version for me was much more interesting, despite the softer visible resolution.
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post #3 of 10 Old 07-01-2012, 09:12 AM
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Repetive sliding or panning or zooming is especially annoying. You do not need such movement if there is actually something going on, except perhaps to track better a moving subject (not a flower or a rock formation).

A personal opinion? It has long been established that static slides in a video presentation are not as interesting as zoom, pan and scan. Pan and scan and zoom movement can aid in directing the viewer's attention to a location in the image. It's a dynamic or tool that takes a simple snapshot or collection of snapshots and makes it part of an artistically created story.

Mark, you and many here have demonstrated single goal which is to show off the ability of your camera and secondarily, your ability to use it. by displaying pictures and video clips to study. Myself and some others are more interested in telling a story of our experience. Therefore we use all tools of the art form in achieving that goal. Maybe the story is annoying to you if you want to study how a camera works but understand that was not the goal or intent of the work to eg. "show off Panasonic's technology." But by the same measure, a collection of still shots or video clips randomly butt edited together with no intended obvious sequence is not a story presentation but just a collection of shots and can quickly become boring unless the purpose is for technical study of each. While this is a forum for technical study of 3D, making a static presentation is not a bad thing, but to say creating a story and an art form is annoying is a bit over the top. Not to say all stories are good and interesting, just that even a bad story is more interesting than a random collection to all people.

I've always held that the first goal of editing is to tell a story. And, that is the main topic of your discussion here. So then I would say that for you to define what is interesting and what is annoying is too restrictive. For example, I do agree that a slide show that lacks sound is bad as it fails to keep my attention as it doesn't stimulate my main sense of communication, that is hearing. The visual also lacks story as the images are stacked in random sequence, but then, so are the video clips.

The whole should be greater than the sum of the parts. If a presentation is to be successful, it must first convey a story to hold interest. Second, the story should entertain and educate to maintain interest. Third, the story needs to stimulate all the senses, the more the better. The final step in the edit process is timing. Here is where the story is told in a more efficient way so as not to digress, sustain unnecessarily, or leave a viewer wondering, What was that? Usually timing edits result in reducing the length, but not always. Sometimes a part of the story lost due to not enough detail. I can usually edit together a story in 2-3 cuts from scratch. However the timing is often the hardest part and can take an additional 4-5 cuts and renderings before satisfaction by me and my focus group.

Story trumps technical for holding interest. While technical quality is a noble goal in any production, it should never limit the ability to tell the story. The deciding factor is whether the substandard technicality pulls the viewer out of the story and draws attention to this issue. If that happens then the story fails to be told as a result of the technology. But if the story is told and the image was slighty soft, but the viewer's interest in the story was maintained, the goal was achieved and the story a success. Learn from the defect and make the technology better on the next project.
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post #4 of 10 Old 07-01-2012, 10:48 AM
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I think, stills can also be quite nice - the resolution is higher at the moment, the color sampling is higher. And one can also tell a story, bring mpo-files in the timeline of an NLE and add voice or music. So it can be done. What somebody likes for his perposes? Well, that is maybe a decision of taste, knowledge and available time. A show of stills is easier in pre- but also postproduction.

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post #5 of 10 Old 07-01-2012, 11:07 AM
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Although I am a mere amateur in these matters, I can recognise the value of Don's experienced comments. In particular, I personally agree, as a "consumer", with the following comments:
... static slides in a video presentation are not as interesting as zoom, pan and scan. Pan and scan and zoom movement can aid in directing the viewer's attention to a location in the image. It's a dynamic or tool that takes a simple snapshot or collection of snapshots and makes it part of an artistically created story.

Having said that, there would often be scope I think for some of the slides to be simple dissolves from one still to the next. This would provide some "calmness" to balance the movement.

Even simple editing can take a long time. It certainly does me. biggrin.gif
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post #6 of 10 Old 07-02-2012, 08:00 AM
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We could take a hi-res still and pan across it to give the sensation of motion and still end up with HD resolution video.
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post #7 of 10 Old 07-02-2012, 08:56 AM
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I think it depends on what you are shooting. I just got back from a trip that included las vegas and 9 days in Kona, HI. The best shots were with the camera on a monopod or tripod, just filming away. Went to top of mauna kea to watch sunset, let it run on a monopod. People milling near the camera help show the depth of the clouds below. At the glowing caldera at volcano park, did similar. Bottom line is it looked like you were there, looking through a window. Any camera movement at all distracted.
I also got a couple of sunsets with the tripod, same effect. With 3d, that extra dimension can tell the picture. When i eventually get a 3d camcorder, I am now trained not to use the zoom while filming. Sure I would occassionally, but can see how just a little zooming would also destroy the moment.
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post #8 of 10 Old 07-02-2012, 10:26 AM
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I am now trained not to use the zoom while filming.

That's a shame! Using all the tools of a discipline skillfully is an art not to lose. Takes no talent to refuse to use a skill of camera control. I trained my interns to shoot the shot many different ways, static, wide tight, then pan left, pan right, at two rates of pan speeds and then push in and pull out at two different zoom speeds. This gives the editor more options in the best b-roll shot to select for the story. ( remember, story is king!) If an intern refused to shoot while zooming and panning I would fire him. If he wanted to but didn't have the skill I would show him how.

Shooting stills at highest resolution is a trick of the trade used to pan, scan and zoom stills we started using with the development of better digital cameras over a decade ago. I keep my still camera set for the highest resolution I can and scale it in post with the pan, scan and zoom options.

Always never forget, once you leave the location of your shoot, you are stuck with what's in the camera. Hedge your bets and shoot your options. Have it and not need it is much better than need it and not have it.
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post #9 of 10 Old 07-02-2012, 08:50 PM
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But I think the point is that zoom is grossly overused by novices. I, too had to learn to avoid the impulse to zoom, and to pan slower than I initially thought, to make sure I captured a shot I could use. Once I get that A shot, I might experiment with effects such as zoom, but I prefer to watch a zoom shot about once every 20 minutes. Maybe that's just me...
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post #10 of 10 Old 07-02-2012, 09:32 PM
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I think the major problem with novice shooting is poorly framed shot with wobblecam because they can't hold a zoomed in shot steady and never use a tripod. But that is video, for stills, its just poor framing.

Some ideas for professional camera and lens movement-
Some genre is more demanding of the slow push to build emotion. In professional lenses we can disengage the servo and snap the zoom ring with a lever that allows you to create special burst trails around a central character. Shooting while snapping into a new frame and then hold is a great transition from one shot to the next. Some stories have you switching location from one place to another. To get there, another great traditional effect that was introduced by the old TV show Man From Uncle is the swish pan. Use this fast pan off a subject and in edit cut to the new location. To use a real world argument, when you look around, you are constantly looking at a frame of reference using a constant pan and scan. Unless you lock your eyes and jerk your head from one position to another like a lizard. biggrin.gif

I may enjoy a really good slide show for 20 minutes but stills without some motion is going to lose me after 2-3 minutes. What I envision with a 20 minute slide show are the slides on screen for way way too long. I like stills presentations set for about 2-4 seconds per shot. 20 shots per minute would be about 400 stills for that 20 minute program. Yikes! If you do that many keepers on a project, that is really good work. If the shots are different or a series of reveals on the same shot, then I might watch for 20 minutes if the story is something like Around the World in 20 Minutes biggrin.gif
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