Session 7: Stereography and Storytelling
Rob Engle, 3-D Visual Effects Supervisor, Sony Pictures Imageworks
Bernard Mendiburu, Analyst, Author of “3D Movie Making”
Eric Kurland, Independent 3-DIY filmmaker, 3-DIY.com
Phil Streather, Stereo 3D Producer and Consultant, Principal Large Format
“All 3D is not created equal. It is first and foremost a very, very powerful creative storytelling tool” Jeffrey Katzenberg
3D Storytelling Choices
- Overall depth (interaxial spacing)
- Subject placement in depth (convergence)
- Where the screen edges are (floating windows)
- Traditional 2D composition
- Atmosphere (ex. smoke, clarity, etc.)
- Editorial pacing
- Depth transitions
(Bernard worked on Meet the Robinsons, Monsters vs Aliens)
We are trying to “overcoming Millenniums of flatness” (Ray Zone). We are where color movies were in the late 1930s.
What have we found:
- There is no screen. We see through the screen
- Depth does not need to be realistic
- Big challenge is ‘snake oil vendors’, 3D experts since 2010
- Depth treatment must be integrated into the story
It is really important to determine genre and style early in the process. With Avatar the goals early on were 1) not to tire the audience’s eyes out, and 2) to within 10 minutes have the audience settle in and forget that they are watching a 3D movie.
Journey to the Center of the Earth had a lot of fun with 3D. Early on they chose to play with the 3D in an obvious manner.
Make sure that the content is shot well; either performance capture or real capture.
In his remote stereography suite he relied on controlling knobs for three things; interoccular, convergence, and focus for the stereo pair.
They did use depth-of-field for creative purposes – soft focus in front and behind the point of interest.
3D @ Home Consortium has 10 rules for 3D that were developed by Chuck and James Cameron (http://www.3dathome.org/webpage.aspx?webpage=1952 ) (Phil Lelyveld note: there is more advice at http://www.3dathome.org/webpage.aspx?webpage=1946 )
The two really interesting areas of z-space are 1) just in front of the screen to give a sense of intimacy and 2) positive parallax with parallel interoccular going to infinity rather than keystoning to infinity.
What is it about good 3D that makes it good? Getting the math right. He likes the idea of a depth budget. Keep it to 1 ½ to 2% for the bulk of the feature (which works for all genres) and 5-10% for the special effects. Ask yourself ‘who do I want in my personal space and who do I want in the behind-the-screen space?’
(Eric is a microbudget 3D filmmaker and a leader in the Los Angeles Do It Yourself 3D moviemaking community.) There is a lot we still have to learn, but I have definitely learned that if you want to tell a good story in 3D, first and foremost you have to tell a good story. The 3D must support the story. 3D does have a language that is different from 2D. We all need education and practice. I’m a big proponent of always practicing my art. Try things and make mistakes on your own small pieces, so you don’t make mistakes on the big features. YouTube has a 3D player now that works great.
Do we want subtle or in-your-face 3D? (Phil) When the seeds of life appeared around Jake in Avatar, they stayed behind the screen. If they came into the audience, the scene would have been about the seeds instead of about Jake. (Bernard) A 3D gimmick is like a piece of candy. Everyone loves a piece of candy, but a full bag will make you sick.
Does the up-charge for 3D theatre tickets mean that we have to give them ‘their money’s worth?’ (Chuck) We are giving them their money’s worth with the story! (Eric) Outer space in Avatar was shot to look reel, but Hubble 3D ( now at IMAX) had a light-year interaxial distance and it completely engaged the audience. (Bernard) Outside of Hollywood it is hard to see a 3D movie properly in the theatre. He would like to see a trailer/intro with the image of a rainbow spanning the screen and the message ‘if you don’t see the full rainbow, including the ends, and you don’t see the full colors of the rainbow, walk out.’ (Eric) It is very important to education the exhibitors. He went to a theatre where the left/right eyes were reversed. He spoke to the projectionist, who didn’t consider it to be a problem.