Prepping for 3D post
Issue: November 1, 2011

Prepping for 3D post

SANTA MONICA — Maneuvering through post pipelines today can be more challenging than ever, and when a stereoscopic release is part of the equation it’s even more so. Santa Monica-based Company 3 (with facilities in New York, Atlanta and London) has taken on quite a lot of these 3D features, having completed the digital intermediate work for six stereoscopic features since 2009 and with another 10 set to go through the end of 2012.

"Just about every 3D show that comes through has a somewhat different workflow — different cameras, different camera rigs, different kinds of metadata,” explains Devin Sterling (pictured above), Company 3 ( executive producer of features, explains. “We are always available to work closely with everybody involved, because the more we can establish early in the process, the better everything will go during post."

"Of course, there's at least twice as much data," adds Dylan Carter (below), the company's director of nonlinear workflows. "Until Avid came out with the new version of its software, you needed to make two sets of Avid dailies. You need two sets of DPX files for all the visual effects vendors and then you get back two sets of DPXes for every iteration of every effect — so that's something that the online editor needs to track carefully. In some cases, effects houses will create a left eye/right eye stereoscopic version of an effect and then also a version specifically for 2D release."

Then there is the question of all the 3D-specific metadata that can be generated during production. Stereographers can make adjustments to attributes such as convergence and alignment in the dailies phase and capture those changes in the form of metadata, but as yet, Carter emphasizes, there is no standardized format for any of this metadata. "There is now some well-established code for tracking color from dailies to your finishing but there isn't the same thing for these kinds of changes.

"We have processes to record this information, but that doesn't mean that the people who designed the computers and the projectors and all the other components involved have kept up," he explains. "We will often write custom code to make sure those types of adjustments can be applied throughout the whole post process, so any sort of 3D geometry fix or rotational change — left-right, up-down, anything they have done to the 3D — will track all the way through."

In fact, when it comes to the sheer volume of media management, Carter offers, "When you work on a 3D project, you're often not working with twice as much data. It's more like three times as much."