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3D The Stereographer’s tool kit by Adam Sculthorp, Stereographer, Dimension Media E ssentially we all want stereoscopic 3D to become less technically complex, but it’s crucial to understand why so much additional attention to detail is required. It’s our opinion at Dimension Media, that to successfully produce visually engaging and technically excellent 3D the best and often most cost effective solution is actually to keep your equipment options open. Picking the best equipment package, in terms of suitability for each part of your shoot is crucial. This is why when setting out to produce a quality 3D production, it’s vital to find an experienced Stereographer or Stereo Supervisor, who will work with you as part of your team. “ selecting the right equipment for each shoot can make a lot of difference” We have used the majority of 3D technologies whilst working on a wide range of landmark projects, from major television series to feature films. However, choosing the correct equipment package that will fulfil the requirements of the production is not often straightforward. With the help of your Stereographer, it’s possible to select the optimum equipment requirements for each part of your overall project. Yes this will require more planning, and yes, your production team will need to think about what they want to achieve early in Pre- production; but we find that doing this early planning, is the easiest way to save considerable amounts of time and money, throughout production and post. 58 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE Everybody wants to find the Holy Grail of Stereoscopic 3D technology, the simple, cheap and easy to use production solution. A few years ago, many people who had begun to experiment with 3D had one common opinion, forecasting that the over complex and costly Mirror (or Beam- splitter) Rigs were never going to last and that their demise was imminent. Today with both Sony and Panasonic launching what they describe as Professional Integrated Fixed Inter- axial 3D Camcorders, the demise of the Mirror Rig has once again become a common discussion point. Some producers look at the price tag of one of these ‘3D Camcorders’ and quickly ask themselves the question, ‘do we really need one of those huge and complex Mirror Rigs?’ Although they can be a useful tool, these ‘3D Camcorders’ have several limitations and currently don’t reach the full Technical Specification of most Broadcasters including Sky3D. Having a fixed I/A (Inter-axial) also fixes the amount of stereo-depth that these cameras can control. For example, if you want to shoot a talking head in a medium sized room, then you can create comfortable 3D. However if you then need a cut-away of the building where the interview is taking place, then the relatively small I/A means that your exterior wide shot could appear flat. However, if a Mirror Rig had been used for this shoot then coherent stereo depth would have been maintained, giving a far more comfortable and believable 3D experience. Comfortable and believable 3D is the key to producing engaging stereoscopic content. Of course, the story is always the most important factor of any production, however if the illusion of 3D is to be maintained and accepted by the viewer then care must always be taken. We often advise our clients that the viewer is the most experienced 3D ‘expert’. After all, we have all seen 3D everyday of our lives and selecting the right equipment for each shoot can make a lot of difference.  On one of our largest projects to date, a natural history series currently being filmed on location at Kew Gardens, a wide selection of different equipment packages are being used on a daily basis. To achieve the level of immersive visual excellence this landmark production demands, we actually used a wide range of different rig types. This included custom built time-lapse rigs, as well as a specially designed Macro system. Dimension Media’s 3D Producer, Jacquie Pepall worked closely with the Production team, Equipment Facilities house and our Stereographers to select the correct equipment for each of the shoot days whilst keeping the budget on track. Ultimately, the reason that any experienced Stereographer will often recommend a selection of 3D rigs as part of the overall shooting package, is that every shot is different and flexibility is crucial. About Dimension Media Dimension Media is a partnership between the UK’s leading Stereoscopic 3D talent, providing Stereographers, Production and Post-Production specialists. Our ethos is to demystify the process of producing engaging and creative 3D content across broadcast, commercials and feature films in the UK and Europe. Based in West London, Dimension Media can be contacted via www. dimensionmedia.co.uk or on 0845 862 6226.