Panasonic finally releases its 3D camcorder, and it looks like WALL-E

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We got shut out of the Panasonic presser (shame on them), but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer. Lucky for you, Electric Pig has a solid blow-by-blow of the event, and Giz got some great shots of the camera itself. There were other devices announced, of course, but this is the coolest thing if you ask me. 3D is obviously a big theme at this year’s CES, and Panny showed a prototype of this sucker earlier in the year, so it’s no surprise that they’ve decided to make it official.

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You can see from the build and I/O panel that it’s a pro camera, but it’s priced at $21,000, which is friendly to lower budgets. It shoots at 1080p, though it’s not clear what framerates it will support. Also in question is the lens system, which is clearly a pair of fixed mystery lenses, adjustable so you can change the intensity of the 3D effect (it’s complicated). But they look a bit small; I’m wondering how far they can open up.

Details are scarce, but I’ll make a point of heading to Panasonic and asking them for more. Comment in any questions I should ask.

Here’s the press release:

Panasonic Unveils World’s First Integrated Full HD 3D Camcorder at CES 2010

Available In Fall 2010 – Solid-State Recording System Will Offer Highly-Efficient Full HD 3D Video Production

LAS VEGAS, Nev., Jan. 6 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Panasonic Corporation (NYSE: PC) will release the world’s first* professional, fully-integrated Full HD 3D camcorder in Fall 2010. The company will begin taking orders in April. Engineering samples of the professional Full HD 3D solid-state camcorder will be exhibited at the Panasonic booth (Las Vegas Convention Center, Main Hall, #9405) at the 2010 International CES in Las Vegas, USA, from January 7-10.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20100106/NY33307)

This Full HD 3D camcorder will offer the following core benefits:

Easier to Use

Current 3D systems are large-scale setups in which two cameras are fitted to a rig in parallel, or vertically intersect across a half-mirror. Separate recorders are also required. In Panasonic’s new Full HD 3D camcorder, the lenses, camera head, and a dual Memory Card recorder are integrated into a single, lightweight body. The camcorder also incorporates stereoscopic adjustment controls making it easier to use and operate.

The twin-lens system adopted in the camcorder’s optical section allows the convergence point** to be adjusted. Functions for automatically correcting horizontal and vertical displacement are also provided. Conventional 3D camera systems require these adjustments to be made by means of a PC or an external video processor. This new camcorder, however, will automatically recalibrate without any need for external equipment, allowing immediate 3D image capture.

More Flexible

The solid-state memory file-based recording system offers greater flexibility to produce Full HD 3D videos in more challenging shooting environments. The camcorder is lighter weight and smaller than current 3D rigs, while providing the flexibility of handheld-style shooting. Setup and transportation is simplified, making it ideal for sports, documentary and filmmaking projects.

Solid-State Reliability and Workflow

Right and left Full HD video streams of the twin-lens 3D camcorder can be recorded as files on SDHC/SD Memory Cards, ensuring higher reliability than on other tape, optical disc, HDD or other mechanical-based recording systems. This solid-state, no-moving-parts design will help significantly reduce maintenance costs, and the 3D camcorder will be better able to perform in extreme environments and be more resistant to temperature extremes, shock, and vibration.

And users will enjoy a fast, highly-productive file-based workflow, with instant, random access to recorded content; easy plug-in to both Mac and PC-based platforms; and longer recording capacity.

More Affordable

Using a standardized, fully integrated design, the Full HD 3D camcorder will be offered at a much lower price than traditional 3D rigs. Transportation expenses for this handheld unit will be less and faster setup times reduce labor costs. Using standard, re-recordable SDHC/SD Memory Cards available already everywhere, media costs become almost insignificant.

In addition to a camcorder, Panasonic also plans to offer a professional-quality 3D Full HD LCD monitor for field use as well as a professional HD digital AV mixer for live event production. Panasonic will offer professional production equipment to allow video professionals to efficiently create 3D content, so consumers can enjoy 3D video using Panasonic 3D home theater systems.

Major Specifications (tentative)

* Product Name: Twin-lens Full HD 3D camcorder (made-to-order)
* Suggested Retail Price for Main Unit: $21,000
* Available: Fall 2010 (made to order)
* Power Consumption: Under 19 W (main unit only)
* Weight: Under 3 kg (main unit only)
* Recording Media: SDHC/SD Memory Card

* As an integrated twin-lens Full HD 3D camcorder capable of recording Full HD 3D video to Memory Cards. As of January 2010 (based on our investigation)

** The point at which the left and right-camera lenses’ optical axes converge

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