Post Magazine

May 2013

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2 D - T O - 3 D [ Cont.from 26 ] Prometheus) to our service package. Now our 3D business is about evenly divided between VFX, optimization and conversion." Vezzali explains that productions "often believe that shooting natively in 3D means that you shoot stereo and you're done. But that's usually not the case. Native 3D still requires stereoscopic optimization to be at its highest quality; [Producers] find they need to dedicate eight to 10 weeks to prepare native 3D shot films for audiences." Neither native stereo 3D nor 2D-to-3D conversion is the "be all and end all" for content, says Van Woert. "Regardless of the technique you use, 3D should add a layer to the audience experience. It should ebb and flow much like the film's music track, enhancing and defining specific moments.That's why we advocate evaluating the needs of each project and applying a hybrid workflow — shooting or converting footage as appropriate." He explains that the company has "a quiver of tools to select from, and we customize a pipeline for each project, using the appropriate tools for the job." Those tools include a lot of "off-the-shelf products, from The Foundry's Nuke, Imagineer's Mocha Pro and Shotgun for shot tracking and project management to high-end systems like SGO's Mistika," says Van Woert. "We use them as part of a unique and customized workflow, often in ways no other studios do.You might say we use off-the-shelf tools in a proprietary fashion." For example, Nuke is the primary tool for the 2D-to-3D conversion pipeline, "which we use in concert with Mistika so we can adjust 3D convergence on the fly, to properly manage the depth budget on a sequence or on a complete show," says Vezzali. "We use Mistika as a finishing tool for native stereo and within 2D and 3D pipelines for data management and editorial QC. It's an incredibly diverse tool." The company does all its design, previs, quality control and finishing at its North Hollywood office and much of its VFX and stereoscopic precomp work overseas in Asia and Eastern Europe, where it owns part of a visual effects collective. Identity FX recently designed the 3.5-minute opening sequence and all the end credits for Texas Chainsaw 3D, which was shot native 3D. "We came at the job from a 3D design perspective," says Vezzali. "We sat down with the director and talked about what he wanted to communicate and what would be more efficient as native capture or conversion." The opening features clips from the original 1974 Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which were converted to 3D. The end credits were crafted from stills and video images from the new film, which were given "a dynamic 3D treatment with 3D backgrounds, 2D graphics 42 Post • May 2013 Post0513_022-24, 26-stereoRAV4finalread.indd 42 C O N V E R S I O N S Identity FX uses off-the-shelf tools, such as Nuke and Mistika, in a customized pipeline for "on-the-fly" 3D convergence on projects like the opening for Texas Chainsaw 3D. and text in negative space," says Vezzali. "This project was a case of using 3D to tell a story — combining converted footage with natively-shot footage to enhance the depth of the experience for the audience. Ultimately this is what 3D is all about. 3D should no longer be considered a gimmick, but a powerful communications tool." In addition to its stereo 3D big-screen film work, Identity FX has developed "a protocol for the small screen," Van Woert says. "We're poised to enter the 3D device marketplace — smartphones, tablets, broadcast TVs. By several estimates there are expected to be two billion 3D devices by 2017, and this year we have seen several consumer-ready, glasses-free 3D devices enter the market. We believe that when this domino falls, there will be a huge demand for 3D, especially overseas, and a majority of the content will have to be converted from legacy titles." VEFXI: TOOLS AND SERVICES Headquar tered in Por tland, OR, VEFXi (www. is in the final testing phase for its DiamondBlade 3D Conversion Suite, a software/hardware accelerator package that increases productivity and efficiency of 3D stereo post and conversion via instant rendering. That capability facilitates keyframe editing of the depth scale and adjustment of depth field in front of or behind the display screen, for example. VEFXi "already had the realtime converter for home theater," says VP of strategic development Lorenzo Traina. "Instead of rotoscoping, it instantly creates a 3D image from a 2D image and makes adjustments to depth and pop out in realtime via keyframing. It's a new way to manipulate 3D." CEO Craig Peterson founded VEFXi in late 2010 after 30 years with Intel. The company's consumer 3D product "was so far ahead in the industry that studios started asking for a post production system," Traina reports. Developing their depth engine further, VEFXi is expected to release DiamondBlade 1.0 after six months of beta testing. The system, a hardware/software hybrid with a computer control panel interface, can be leased from VEFXi on an annual basis. It runs on a video server that can be supplied by VEFXi or obtained in consultation with the company. "The server needs to support realtime uncompressed video streams in 2K," says Peterson. "DiamondBlade works in full 2K; there's no de-rezing." With its speed, DiamondBlade is targeted to TV programming as well as film. In a test, a customer converted a one-hour show, with 524 scene cuts ("more than most movies," Peterson says) in about eight hours with one seat of the new product. "Even with reviews and approvals, you're looking at a one-week turnaround with one person. DiamondBlade is so fast it allows you to go through an entire show and add 3D expression you didn't have time to do previously." In the conversion process Avid, Adobe Premiere or Apple Final Cut clips and EDLs are loaded into DiamondBlade, then 3D convergence is applied. "You hit a button to jump to the next scene cut, adjusting the convergence in seconds for each scene," Peterson explains. "Then we recommend going back to the beginning to figure out scene by scene where you want things to pop out or push back, where you want to add 3D expression. That's where you put all the artistry in." Traina says right now most of the interest in DiamondBlade stems from China, where audiences are hungry for 3D. "The number of their cinemas dwarfs ours, and a 3D movie packs every seat. CCTV has one 3D channel now, but the government has mandated 18 channels by 2015, so they need about 75,000 hours of 3D content quickly and at a quality level acceptable to the network." 5/3/13 2:41 PM

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