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April 2014
Issue: May 1, 2010

3D BRINGS HUMANITY BACK TO PRODUCTION

By: Deborah Osborne
Most everything in Las Vegas is described as an “experience” – the shows, casinos, hotels and even restaurants.  NAB 2010 was no different, highlighting the 3D “Experience.” With 3D versions of Avatar, Clash of the Titans and Alice In Wonderland currently hitting the theatres, NAB was able to examine 3D beyond the “wow” factor, the cameras, software and projectors. Sessions, panels and demonstrations delved into the intimacies and multi-faceted aspects of 3D image capture, generation, manipulation, workflow, deliverables and display — and did so with agreement for the need of human interaction at the forefront and with continual discussions throughout. There was a willingness to acknowledge and support the science and technology of 3D along with the creative, with communication hand in hand to workflow. A renewed sense and respect of the people represented in all stages of the workflow, and knowledge that a blind hand off from one stage to the next would not translate into a successful 3D production.  

This is huge and wonderful news.  To work in 3D we must all “go back to school.” It will be acceptable to ask questions, share knowledge, identify challenges and plan training.  It will become natural for the producer, director, DP and crew to embrace and understand the input of new crew members; the DIT’s, steroeographers and IO (inter-occular operators).  It will be critical to carry on discussions and support after the shoot with all post departments. For 3D production to be successful, we must get back to our roots of storytelling as a collaborative experience. The new science and tech aspects of 3D will encourage communication, renew mutual respect and will bring a comfort factor to directors, producers, performers, designers, crew, vendors and manufacturers.  The challenge of keeping the creative vision intact from concept through to delivery in 3D will be everyone’s goal with the approach of not being right, rather, doing it right.

Up to now, evolving technology had the danger of taking us from our “best practices” of interaction and communication. Each new technological development provided an environment for working more and more in isolation, and the speed of technological changes did not always provide time for producers, directors and crew to keep up. Producers and the like trusted their keys to do the job, even with new storytelling tools. As a result, post production was impacted the most from a lack of awareness, communication and decisions not realized or shared during prep and shoot. Too often the result was unplanned creative and budgetary compromises.

Productions have always been successful when it is recognized that workflow is as important as the story. This is especially true and extremely critical in 3D. “We’ll fix it in post” cannot be realized easily in 3D, for creative satisfaction or for a reasonable price.  Financial and creative success can be attributed to working backwards from deliverables during pre-production. This practice assists with workflow, budget and schedule and will help to avoid surprises in post. If you know where you are going, you will know how to begin and how to get there. 

As a veteran working in post production and leading presentations, seminars, workshops and training in post, I have always encouraged adoption of the mantra “post production is ‘pre’ production.” In addition, considering the anthropology and community of a project gives a face to your fellow collaborators, and establishes a support system with the freedom to exchange ideas. Vendors and post production facilities have always welcomed interaction early on, and can be instrumental in assisting with 3D equipment choices, workflow and deliverables — a direct benefit toward more realistic budgets and schedules.

Although 3D has been around for some time, we are in transition.  We must prepare for disruptiveness, but also for opportunities.  There will be adjustments for directors, DPs, on-set and post crews. New language must be learned. Workflows will be tweaked. There will be new line items in budgets and dollars needed for same.  Additional crew and training will be required.  Industry will work together for solutions, new methodology will be created, and more streamlined workflows established. However, if we venture into the world of 3D without the enlightenment from our school of hard knocks, without getting back to integration and communication, and without taking the time to learn from science to understand the technology and properly use 3D as a tool for storytelling, it will be very easy to create bad 3D.  The past is key to our present and to our future. The future will only be kind to those of us who plan and prepare now.

Phil McNally, (known as “Captain 3D from his innovative work in 3D for ILM and Disney), stated: “Good 3D movies are made with experience, not with knowledge.” Opening up the world of 3D has brought filmmakers full circle, back to the roots of storytelling as a total collaborative experience. 3D has brought back a sense of humanity to production.

3D is unavoidable and will soon be ubiquitous. We will have opportunities to create in 3D for feature films, television, events, stage design, tourism, education, medicine, corporate communications, gaming, worship, and the yet to be invented experiences. 3D is a great equalizer. Embrace and celebrate the renewal of total communication and integration 3D production dictates. Take on the mantra “post production is pre production,” and when the time comes to work in 3D, you will be ready for the “experience.”

Deborah Osborne is a producer, integrator, consultant and trainer with Post Compass in Stamford, CT. She can be reached at: deb.osborne@me.com.