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Estonians target Hollywood and Bollywood with their novel 3D-camera

Juhan Tere, BC, Tallinn, 09.03.2011.Print version
Estonian Brothers Kaur and Kaspar Kallas in cooperation with the USA camera producer – Silicon Imaging have developed a stereoscopic video camera that is able to record a three-dimensional image, as reports.

This novel gadget has already drawn the attention of many of the world's top directors, including James Cameron and Werner Herzog who used it for shooting his latest documentary last summer, writes LETA.


The Kallas brothers have successfully busted the myth according to which the making of a 3D-film takes a truckload of special equipment, at least three technicians and that setting up a scene takes half a day.


Actually, the 3D-camera is not a camera in the traditional sense of the word but a modular system comprising two camera heads and a recorder. The set is portable and can easily be adjusted for special purposes. Without a lens the device weighs four kilograms and enables the playing of a recorded 3D-picture at the film set.


Until today, production of a 3D-picture took two separate cameras and a special device to merge images from different cameras into a 3D-image. The cameras had to be synchronized for the timing of each frame to be exactly the same. It was all rather complicated and there was always a risk that the quality of the 3D-effect would be poor. And more importantly, the solution was neither mobile nor cheap.


Kaur Kallas says that the 3D-camera was produced by the US company, Silicon Imaging. Estonians developed the mobile hardware solution or the recorder for Silicon Imaging camera heads that enables the recording of a 3D-image and also helped to create the necessary software.


The camera set costs approximately 64,000 euros. So far Silicon Imaging has sold one to the world famous director, James Cameron, whose film “Avatar” broke all box office records.


Fast technological development, however, does not favor the sale of these camera sets. It is more practical to offer the service which includes equipment rental together with the services of a specialist. And that is what the Kallas brothers are now focusing on. Panasonic and Sony have also used the same business model with their high-end digital cameras.


The camera heads and recorder rental costs 980 euros a day and auxiliary equipment, such as a mirror rig, wireless HD and 3D monitoring, wireless follow focus, lenses and a work station for viewing recorded material costs another 1500 – 2000 euros a day.

he new technology was used for the first time in December 2009 in Finland to make the 3D commercial that was shown before “Avatar”. In summer 2010, Werner Herzog used this novel camera to record his first 3D documentary called “Caves of Forgotten Dreams” that premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September.


The European premier is scheduled to take place in February at the Berlinale. In Estonia, the Acuba 3D-camera is used in the production of a documentary and a 3D short feature, both of which should be out this spring.


The Kallas brothers also co-operated with the artist Raul Rajangu in the making of an experimental 3D short film, “Luminous Darkness”, which was recently premiered.


Negotiations are currently under way with several well-known directors who would like to use Estonians’ equipment for their upcoming projects but Kallas is unwilling to name any names yet.


Meanwhile the brothers continue to work on optimizing the camera casing. Within a year the entire system has become more compact and it is now possible to monitor and operate the camera with no wires attached.


The 3D-camera was developed on the basis of the 2D-camera that was also produced by Estonians in co-operation with Silicon Imaging and used for filming Kadri Kõusaar's controversial "Magnus". The same technology was used for the Hollywood feature film "Slumdog Millionaire" that last year won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography. The camera head of a 3D-camera actually consists of two 2D-cameras one of which records for one eye while the second records for the other eye.

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