Last week I had the chance to shoot Johnny Knoxville and Nichola Burley in 3D to promote their respective recent 3D films releases. The stereoscopic shoot was coordinated by Alan Lennox, a 3D Broadcast Specialist and Veteran Steadi-Cam Operator. The gear was provided and rented from 3D Camera Company of Toronto, Canada. We shot everything with the Silicon Imaging Si-2k Mini’s 3D system, with the new DDR Recorder by 1-Beyond.
We alternated between shooting with the Element Technica Dark-Country rig (coined from it’s inaugural use on the set of Dark Country 3D) as well as the good old Side-by-Side mount, which equates to roughly 65mm of separation between the small Si-2k bodies. We ended up never using side by side as it was always required that we have a smaller interocular (separation between the lenses) then side-by-side could provide. Using the Dark Country Mirror Rig allows for the cameras to be placed much closer then in the side by side format. We typically stuck to wider lenses for our shooting to increase the depth and roundness of our subjects rather then using longer lenses, which immediately compresses the depth and flatten the stereoscopic effect. (As a stereographer, it’s increasingly frustrating seeing more 2D Directors of Photographer shooting their 3D films with traditional long lenses and ignoring the 3D nuances provided by shorter focal lengths.)
The interview’s of Johnny Knoxville and Nichola Burley, who is starring in Street Dance 3D, were shot on the Mirror Rig in order to get as close as needed to them. The Dark Country rig is sturdy and light weight, but I always find it every cumbersome to try and adjust the f-stops of the camera before trying to get a shot off. The of the tiny rig size can actually become a disadvantage when trying to switch lenses or make F-stop adjustments. If you cannot squeeze your hand inside the tiny rig, then the Si-2k camera heads must be taken out and the f-stop adjusted outside the rig body. With this in mind, for feature films, the Dark Country might be a bit more conducive to play a specific role rather such as steadi-cam only, then be the all around mirror rig that some operators may desire.
It was a considerably short day in film terms, that only required two separate locations and just a few setups, using available light for the outdoor shoots. Most of the interviews were shot with a Camera Interocular of roughly 25mm using Schneider 8mm C-mount lenses. With the 2/3 inch crop sensor on the Si-2k Camera, the focal length and frame size is one of the hands down best for 3D. I would have no argument shooting an entire film with the shorter focal lengths, if it were a 3D production. As William Reeve ASC, a renown IMAX cinematographer and Stereographer says, “3D is a wide and close medium.”
During the shooting Lennox worked hard to compose shots that would include the most interesting 3D camera moves on his steadi-cam in amongst the roof top patio. Considering the images captured had a narrow I/O (Interocular), they will be able to have a full range of post convergence, or Horizontal Image Translation available to be applied to them. This is due to the smaller depth bracket and parallax of the images which will give more variety to move the scenes overall depth from positive (inside the screen) to negative (outside the screen) parallax. The smaller the depth bracket the less of variety between negative and positive parallax but the easier it will be for the audience to fuse the scene as well as further you can push the bracket back without having to worry about exceeding positive parallax values. (For more information on Depth Bracket Placement see my article: Physics of the Depth Placement)
Dave Stuart, of 3DCC, was our DMT and he backed up all the footage on the Wranglar, a proprietary 3D system by 1-Beyond. Once the footage and project files are ingested into the system he scans the files for glaring 3D “defects” that he may see. Having a DMT like Stuart on set is crucial in 3D as he is able to point out stereoscopic issues, being that he is exposed to 3D images on such a frequent basis. 3D images have a language of their own, and they need someone who can properly interpret them, with and without the aid of 3D glasses.