3D Film-making Goes Independent

Kieron Seth#
James Cameron and Sky TV have stolen the stereoscopic 3D limelight. Events such as football cup finals and royal weddings have seemingly been produced with no expense spared in order to show 3DTV at its best. The Ryder Cup, for example, employed an incredible 21 3D Polecam rigs, supplementing the main camera systems.
Beyond the world of Hollywood and the Murdoch empire, however, there is a fast emerging independent 3D scene, encouraged by a series of film festivals such as the 3DFF and InvaZion 3D. Low-cost film makers, always the great innovators of the industry, are starting to create experimental stereoscopic productions, exploiting the techniques, if not the equipment, used by the big players.
One such producer is Tom Ross, Edit Assistant at Preditors. Preditors is a Newman Street post house known for its HD and 3D work with clients including Beyonc, Kylie, Brits TV and Nike as well as all the major broadcasters. Tom's work on high-end 3D projects combined with his admiration for Renaissance art inspired him to experiment with an intimate drama in 3D of his own.
His film, 'Eyes Full of Pornography' was adapted from a stage-play, written by Michael Ross. It was shot at very low cost with a Panasonic AG-3DA, hired from VMI. The practicality of Panasonic's first 3D camcorder was its main attraction. Allan Leonhardsen of Panasonic's distributor Holdan commented:
"Most producers do not have the luxury of a camera engineer or an experienced BSC Director of Photography. So the goal with these pioneering models is to make them affordable and flexible but above all easier-to-use."
Barry Bassett of rental house VMI continues:
"3D is a very exciting development for TV, though the complexity, cost and involvement of using 3D precludes all but the highest budget productions. There is still, however, phenomenal demand for 3D for productions which can't justify it at present and it is these productions which find the use of single piece 3D camcorders of most interest."
Ross agrees with this assessment:
"I selected the Panasonic AG-3DA because it is the first affordable full HD 3D camera for a low budget filmmaker such as myself, which doesn't need a team of operators."
So while digital cinematographers and broadcasters employ rigs requiring highly advanced skills and specialist expertise, the Panasonic camera felt immediately familiar to Ross and was intuitive to use.
"I'm very happy with the results I've achieved. I’m particularly impressed with the vibrant colours and pin sharp detail. The sense of depth I have been able to create is amazing." Enthused Ross.
The simplicity of controlling the 3D image was quickly apparent. For instance, the action of turning the convergence wheel at the base of the camera until the double image moved into single image in the viewfinder is just one example of how easy it is to create stereoscopic images with the Panasonic camcorder. This level of control was of great appeal to the film maker and technically the equipment threw up few issues. What was more challenging was the set design and direction as well as the positioning of the camera. Ross commented:
"The AG-3DA had to be positioned at least 2 metres away from the subject to properly converge on it. The scene also had to be carefully set up for maximum stereoscopic effect. Positioning everything takes time but was rewarding as it encourages the producer to think about art direction and mise-en-scne. I kept the camera stationary, as I didn't want to accidentally move the convergence point behind the subject, which could make it hover unnaturally in mid-air. This also meant that the actors had to be rigidly 'blocked' and choreographed to stop them stepping through the convergence point and becoming disembodied torsos thus creating edge violations on the viewing monitor and ruining the 3d effect."
After reviewing the rushes stereoscopically in After Effects, Ross is now planning to finish the project using Preditors' Mistika. The finished production is coming to film festivals and 3D channels on Vimeo and YouTube soon. Meanwhile, Panasonic's second 3D camcorder, part of the manufacturer's P2 AVC-Intra 100 range, will launch later in the year.

Tags: preditors | ag-3da | panasonic | holdan | hd 3d camera | after effects | iss053 | Kieron Seth#
Contributing Author Kieron Seth#

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