Sorry for the long post, just many different points of frustration with 3D that I've seen so far, lol!
Alignment on the prototype all in one mirror rig would be similar in setup to SbS, in that once it's set it won't need much in the way of adjusting —hopefully
. If not, manual adjustments could be added. As I see it, the biggest advantage to an all in one system in this setup would be to eliminate the need for multiple cameras to carry or in situations where it's not feasible to run the larger dual camera systems or add on adapters like SBE's, not to mention for many of the reasons that prosumer all in one SbS systems were released.
With over/under systems you can widen the I.A. with distance shots, plus get macro 3D, with that advantage it really is miles ahead of any SbS system, yes there are other problems that have to be overcome with that setup which is why I'm not sure if I'll go that route or not. I'm really hoping for some leap in design at this point, like an all in one mirror system. This system wouldn't need to be designed to replace either the beam splitter or SbS systems altogether, just a portable version of the beam splitter just like SbS portable rigs are to the IMAX system.
There are a lot of critical design factors: positioning and mounting of the 50/50 mirror on a 45 degree angle, size of the mirror which will factor in how much I.A. distance can be used. With a 4"x6" mirror that might be large enough for a 4-5 inch I.A. depending on size of lenses. Positioning of lenses and mounting and alignment, also motorizing the left lens and hopefully a zoom control that could move the left lens as zooming increases.
They were able to get many of these same critical factors in place in SbS rigs albeit only in the X-plane and not all three planes (X,Y,Z) like over/under, also fixed lenses instead of adjustable. Fixed alignment might be enough, or small adjustments with a directional pad for each lens to toe in the alignment manually. One other issue with beam splitter setup is the brightness lost with the lens that passes thru the mirror, which has to be adjusted in post or adjusted for each scene. A built in display, with MIX mode can be installed to monitor recording, eliminating the need for larger field monitors.
Basically built like a 3DA1 but would have a larger front with the vertical lens and mirror but with a whole lot more design innovation and advantageous range use. There will be compromises with this system as with any other. You're stuck with the integrated lenses that are installed, and the onboard compression method unless you can output uncompressed.
All in all, there are critical design elements in this all in one system but I'm sure they said the same thing with all in one SbS systems like the 3DA1 when they designed it. From what I've read it took 9 months to design the 3DA1 from start to finish. I think they should have taken a little more time than that as there are areas of improvement in that camera, but many are just limitations with SbS. And this prototype might have areas of improvement after launch but you just keep redesigning till you get it right and release new units every 2 to 3 years.
IMO, SbS systems are inherently flawed. The only reason they're used, is it's just easier right now. There has to be some major design change to get 3D acquisition easier and cheaper. The answer is over/under setup but taking out all the hassles of two cameras, locking systems, external display and a crew of 6 or more to operate it. Plus, taking into account 3D isn't as high up in demand as say 4K there really isn't much going on with design changes and were not even seeing new all in one SbS systems either.
If 3D is to succeed and continue, there really needs to be some simplification if nothing else. Otherwise, I only see converted 3D as continuing in mass production or else a very limited market that could dry up anytime. If a producer wants to look into 3D and doesn't have the budget to hire the necessary crew to run the beam splitter, but can get one experience guy to run an all in one rig, at least that's something. And that's good for us 3D enthusiasts that just want great looking 3D but without a lot of the hassles and expense and what we're able to carry. I don't know how you carry all that stuff, Don, I'm younger than you I think, a tripod and one camera is it for me. I need to enlist my kids' help I guess.
I've got some great looking 3D with the 3DA1, it does have it's sweet spots and limits, but if we can get a portable all in one mirror rig, I'd buy one. It would be able to shoot macro plus eliminating the need to buy/carry a SBE, not to mention setting up each of those shots easier and quicker. Of course all of this is in theory. It's nothing more than an idea and wish at this point. A lot of design elements and someone to build it. Oh, well, I'll keep wishing.