Who's Tougher? Legend3D talks 'Smurfs' vs. 'Transformers'
August 24, 2011

Who's Tougher? Legend3D talks 'Smurfs' vs. 'Transformers'

SAN DIEGO — Legend3D (www.legend3d.com) converted 62 minutes of footage to 3D for the feature, The Smurfs.  The film combines live action and CG characters based on the iconic film strip. Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation ( www.imageworks.com) selected Legend3D to convert approximately 70 percent of the film, as well as a portion of trailer footage. The film opened in late July in RealD 3D and IMAX 3D theaters throughout the US.

Legend3D uses a proprietary 2D-to-3D conversion process to perform conversions. The studio also provided conversion services for this summer’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

“It may sound strange to compare the conversions of these two very dissimilar feature films, but, in many ways, they were alike,” notes Legend3D stereoscopic VFX supervisor, Jared Sandrew. “Transformers was definitely the more complex film, as we had to continuously innovate, and build an extensive suite of VFX/conversion tools during the conversion process. However, surprisingly, The Smurfs proved to be somewhat more difficult than Transformers because the shots were longer, which gave the audience’s eyes ample time to investigate the frames for any minor, though otherwise imperceptible errors, that may have slipped in.

“The workflow that we used for The Smurfs correlated very closely with that of Transformers,” Sandrew adds. “However, there were far fewer characters, and less complex visual effects elements in The Smurfs that we had to worry about. In a way, we had to be more detail-oriented on The Smurfs as the area of interest consisted primarily of static, cute, little blue people, rather than multi-faceted, metal monsters that were constantly moving and changing. Because there was more activity in Transformers, there was less complex detail for the audience to focus on.”

Initially, Legend3D was awarded 20 minutes of work on The Smurfs, but that number then ballooned to 40 and then 62. “We were brought into the process late in the game, and by then, the visual effects had already been produced,” Sandrew explains. “We had very little opportunity to go back to the visual effects vendors for fixes, etc., so in many cases, we had to recreate the layered visual effects using complicated compositing techniques, so that we were able to place all of the details of each shot in proportionate 3D space.”