By Yasmin Hashmi, 3Droundabout
Held at the Palais des Congrès of Liège and Cinéma Sauvenière over five days from 5-9 December 2011, 3D Stereo MEDIA is an international event aimed at those interested in the scientific, technical, artistic and business of 3D. It covers all aspects and applications in all forms of 3D.
This was the third such event, and comprised a two-day 3D Academy on 3D stereography and 3D movie-making; a 3D Film Festival and Mart; a professional conference; and a newly-introduced scientific conference on 3D Imaging that included 33 papers and was co-sponsored by the IEEE Signal Processing Society.
There was also a small exhibition featuring around 20 exhibitors. These were mainly from France, The Netherlands and Belgium, and included Cow Prod offering a range of 3D production services; and Spatial View which was promoting the 3DeeCentral online service and an AS3D slider for laptops and the iPhone.
Binocle was showing its camera rigs and a real-time processing system for stereo correction; Taodyne was showing its B2B presentation software and there was also 3D printing on show by DP Lenticular of Ireland.
Among the production products on show was AIRdrone’s helicopter-like camera rig for shooting from the air. A unit supporting 2kg was demonstrated, and the company has also developed a 5kg-capable prototype. The 2kg unit has a 7-10-minute battery life, requires one camera operator and one pilot, and supports HD transmission to a base station up to 150m away.
We arrived just in time for the keynote conference presentation by Ben Grossman, Director and Special FX supervisor at Pixomondo VFX, USA, and visual effects supervisor on Martin Scorsese’s Hugo. Ben talked us through many clips from the film, and gave an enthralling description of the techniques used to create them, as well as of the thinking behind the stereography used throughout the film. Hugo is Scorsese’s first 3D film, and he was insistent that everything be done in order to suck the audience into the film. It was shot with Pace Fusion rigs, and everyone on set, including the make-up artists, had 3D monitors.
Ben pointed out that the cuts between clips didn’t need to be so fast because the clips are more immersive. His team explored using maximum stereo effects in visuals at various depths, for all elements, but warned that there is a danger of going too far so that objects end up looking like miniatures (Editor’s note: see Part 4 of Steve Shaw’s article this month). There were over 400 visual effects artists used on the film, spread around the world, so managing content and metadata was a major undertaking.
Another fascinating presentation was given by Wilfred Van Baelen of Galaxy Studios on the Auro-3D 3D sound format. The company developed special microphones for recording on set, and treated us to a demonstration that involved sound reproduction from two heights surrounding the audience as well as from above.
The conference programme featured commented 3D screenings, including Asterix in 3D, a colourised and 3D version of an excerpt from Harold Lloyd’s famous Safety Last film; clips from Pirates of the Caribbean, Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon, Vicky and the treasure of the gods, Lord of the Dance 3D and many more.
Technical sessions included a discussion on live 3D transmissions including by satellite; the secrets of shooting the Tour de France and other bicycle races in 3D; 2D-to-3D conversion; 3D consortiums; 3D range cameras and their applications; audio and 3D; the latest trends in 3D visualisation systems; exotic 3D imaging; 3D printing; and 3D for teaching and education (Editor’s note: see our feature article by Len Scrogan this month).
Not having been to this event before, we were very impressed by the show’s organisation, the calibre of the presenters and the quality of the programme. The venue was easy to get to from London – just a couple of hours on the Eurostar and an hour-long fast train journey to Liège.
The atmosphere was intimate and relaxed, and there was time to catch up with presenters both during the conference and at the cocktail evening put on by the show organisers at the Cinéma Sauvenière. This also played host to a slightly quirky awards ceremony, and the first screening in Belgium of Sir David Attenborough’s Flying Monsters 3D.