Having indulged for several years in stereo photography of the hand-held cross-your-eyes variety, I was interested to watch the broadcast industry respond to the availability of increasingly affordable flat-panel 3D displays. A critical point in the price threshold has finally been crossed: fast-refresh-rate 22 inch 3D computer monitors using circular polarisers are now available at practically the same very low prices as ordinary 2D monitors of the same size. Another year or two and 40 inch 3D television displays are likely to be commonplace.
My particular speciality is seeing how quickly I can induce a headache in anyone brave enough to view my 3D stills. This is achieved by a variety of techniques such as excessive or insufficient interocular spacing, non-matching axial twist, non-matching colour balance, and, most effective all of, non-matching vertical camera angle.
Bernard Mendiburu's book came to my attention during a phone conversation with Robin Palmer following Hamlet's 3D test-and-measurement demonstration at IBC. '3D Movie Making' has the merit of being concise, highly readable and thoroughly practical. In just 230 pages, the author rattles through an introduction to 3D cinema; stereoscopic vision and 3D cinematography; pre-production, 3D photography; CGI and VFX, editing; grading and packaging. A guide to some of the relevant equipment is given in an appendix but, although the ink is barely dry, the list is already going out of date.
The real value of '3D Movie Making' is that it covers its subject very concisely in a style which is both academically credible and extremely readable. A lot of technical tomes are quite soporific; this is not one of them. The text is copiously illustrated, including almost Picasso-style freehand diagrams which enhance rather than detract from the book's appeal. Having detailed the elements of 3D vision, it covers the practicalities of multi-channel video storage and post-production, including compositing, rotoscoping, depth mapping, anaglyph production, 2D-to-3D conversion, depth continuity and a brief consideration of audio for 3D.
Several IBC2009 3D demonstrations suffered from flatness of the individual layers, reducing the depth field into a small number of cardboard cutouts. Mendiburu reminds the reader that flattening is an inherent danger of using a long-focus lens.
The book includes a commendable large number of useful weblinks relative to products and demonstrations. It also comes complete with a useful DVD of 3D resources plus my pet hate - red/blue anaglyphic specs: The missing headache.
3d movie making book review