Stereo 3D: To shoot native, or convert?

By Barry Sandrew, Legend3D

As first run 3D feature films move into development and pre-production most filmmakers are faced with the inevitable question: whether to shoot the film with stereo cameras; commonly called ‘native’ 3D, shoot entirely in 2D and convert to 3D, or use a hybrid approach. Unfortunately some filmmakers make their decision before thoroughly investigating the relative costs and technical considerations between filming in 3D versus conversion. This lack of information or worse, misinformation about the options can result in an unsatisfying if not expensive directorial experience.

Preference For ‘Native’ Capture

Some directors are adamant about shooting with stereo rigs because they feel comfortable with the medium and have established stereo crews available that have a substantial track record. Indeed, films like, Hugo and Life of Pi are examples of masterfully captured ‘native’ stereo using Cameron-Pace proprietary rigs, under the supervision of Vince Pace, while Prometheus, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and The Amazing Spiderman benefited from decades of experience and expertise that Steve Schklair and his 3ality Technica team brings to ‘native’ stereo filmmaking.

2D to 3D Conversion is Often Necessary in ‘Native’ Shoots

What is not widely known is that each of the films mentioned above separately lensed by Cameron-Pace and 3ality Technica required 2D to 3D conversion as a post process. Indeed, even Avatar required approximately 40 shots to be converted. In the case of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Michael Bay started shooting the film with a single stereo rig provided by Cameron-Pace but in the end, Legend3D converted over half or 78 minutes of the film. In fact, Legend3D converted many of the most complex scenes in the film while working closely with both ILM and Digital Domain who contributed the visual effects. For at least part of the film there was no other option other than conversion. Michael Bay preferred to shoot close up and medium shots of his actors using anamorphic film. Consequently all those shots were scanned and subsequently converted from 2D to 3D.

Of significance is that converted shots in all of the titles mentioned above were intercut seamlessly throughout each film in a checkerboard fashion, yet it was impossible to tell whether a shot was created with stereo cameras or converted.

Preference For Conversion

There are other studios and directors that are shying away from 3D camera rigs all together, particularly in VFX heavy films. This is primarily because of higher VFX budgets for stereo work, extended shooting schedules and subsequent post-production costs that increase significantly for stereo capture relative to conversion. Many filmmakers who have selected the conversion path understand that budgeting to have VFX elements (RGBaz) and clean plates archived and available to the conversion vendor makes stereo compositing and cleanup much easier, more accurate, of higher quality and ultimately less costly to produce. The resulting savings can be passed on to the studio client. [more...]

Source: Post Magazine

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