Computer Graphics World

September/October 2014

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 11 of 51

10 cgw s e p t e m b e r . o c t o b e r 2 0 1 4 V I E W P O I N T . S T E R E O 3 D hile stereo 3D movies were making a come- back in 2005, the initial going was slow. The 3D industry didn't really officially begin until the release of Avatar in December 2009. Since that time, the industry has grown exponentially. Today, there are tens of thousands of 3D theaters around the world, and a vast majority of the highest-grossing films in 2013 were 3D. Of those movies, the majority were converted from 2D to 3D, rather than captured natively with dual camera rigs. What is so special about conversion? It's a more precise way to create 3D, and it's the most efficient way to handle VFX-heavy films. In a 3D con- version, every pixel in the film is considered a visual effect. There have been many challenges and lessons learned since the industry's inception in 2009. In this article, we'll take a close look at today's 3D industry, while dissecting 3D conversion hurdles and ways to overcome the inherent obstacles. At Legend3D (L3D), we received our early training under the fire of production with some of the best stereographic talent in Hollywood. Corey Turner, previ- ously from Sony Pictures Image- works and now at Paramount, gave us our first opportunity to test the stereo conversion waters in 2009 on Alice in Wonderland and then another more rigorous project with Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Alongside Turner was Rob En- gle, mentoring us on such films as Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and the Smurfs franchise, to name a few. Work- ing with Phil McNally, formerly at DreamWorks, gave us all the volumes of experience needed when we were contracted to convert three Shrek films back-to-back in eight months. McNally's book, 3D Storytelling, is mandatory reading for each of our stereographers and is still heavily referenced today. Turner, Engle, McNally, and other skilled stereographers who came along aer them, contributed to the mentorship of our creative team, demanded the best, and expected us to deliver. Stereoscopic knowledge alone is not sufficient to achieve the best in 3D; it also takes a considerable amount of experience and prac- tical training. T R U T H S A N D M I S C O N C E P T I O N S At an International 3D Society Awards ceremony last year, Avatar Producer John Landau preached, "No more subtle 3D, guys; we need to wow audienc- es." The challenge was to con- tinually create a 3D experience that envelops viewers and leaves them awestruck. Realistic 3D is sometimes synonymous with native 3D, which, in my opinion, is false. Realistic 3D is playing it safe – most of the time, too safe, and runs the risk of producing a non-immersive experience for an audience. Stereoscopic lenses used to shoot a scene – whether real lenses, as in native capture, or virtual lenses, as in conversion – will yield its own feel of depth and volume. The separation between those lenses typically offers a range of disparity within which a stere- ographer can design. However, that range of disparity should never constrain a stereographer. The concept of "realistic 3D" isn't exclusive to native capture, but also pertains to conversion, where the same "safe" rules are oen imposed. In the early days, several films were poorly orches- trated and converted too fast, with little love, and the damage still plagues the 3D film industry. One lingering misconception is there are shots that are im- possible to convert, and, conse- quently, the conversion process is inferior to native capture. Bear in mind that both native capture and conversion are nothing more than visual illusions. Whether it's native capture or conversion, knowledge, experience, and talent are essential ingredients in the creation of high-quality stereo experiences. Over time, conversion as a means to synthesize 3D has redeemed itself and has demonstrated success with proper resources and time. Nei- ther native stereo capture nor conversion is exempt from the realistic 3D pitfall, just as both methods can create spectacu- lar, immersive 3D. Although it has been chal- lenging to change the percep- tion of 3D conversion, the hard work hasn't gone unnoticed. Most conversion vendors have taken their quality of work up a THE CHALLENGES OF 3D CONVERSION W BY TONY BALDRIDGE LEGEND3D HAS CONVERTED A NUMBER OF FILMS TO STEREO 3D, INCLUDING LIFE OF PI AND HUGO.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Computer Graphics World - September/October 2014