In 2011, YSTV became the first student station in the world to broadcast in three whole dimensions.
Having been lamenting over the death of HD1 (one of our first three HD cameras), Michael Chislett had the crazy idea of going 3D. As usual, there would be no reason for this random idea.
By combining two of our identical High definition cameras to a rig on some old Manfrotto tripods, so that one would function as the ‘left eye’ and one as the right, we had a 3D camera (total saving ~£22K). We soon noticed that the lens hoods made the rig too wide, which would make a viewer sick, so these had to be removed...
The tricky part with 3D camera rigs we found, was that with even the slightest inequality between the two would result in the viewers feeling sick! With cameras that sampled less light than a pair of peanuts, we relied on some simple, bright test patterns made from LX tape marked off on the walls of our studio to adjust focus, rotation, zoom, light levels etc. Lastly, the position of the cameras relative to the “target” was vital: too close, and the target would pop out of the screen so far that when edited, it would break out into left and right eye images, thus losing the illusion. Too far, and the 3D effect would be minimal, and wasted!
Next step is to put some content in front of the lens, and simultaneously record on both cameras, with the trusty clapperboard providing the sync points for editing later.
Ironically, Mike and Marie then played a 2D game of noughts and crosses... which was actually LX based forward and back slashes. Towards the end of the footage, Mike realises he has lost, and in a desperate attempt at winning, he floats a slash in the air, having won in 3 dimensions. To this day, both Marie and Mike insist they won, Marie having won the 2D game, and Mike insisting that the game was 3D from the start.
The two cameras were then rendered together in anaglyph mode, with rotation adjusted to the nearest 0.1 degrees, as anything worse gave Mike dimensional headaches. Had there have been a 3D colour screen to watch on, we would have used colour. A note for the future: watch out, render times are 4x their 2D equivalent!
Having edited the footage, playout occurred at 06:00, making YSTV the first 3D student TV station. For which we won a Best Technical Achievement YUMA.