Mar 25
STEREOSCOPIC CINEMATOGRAPHY WORKSHOP HIGHLIGHTS by Alex J. Socorro  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Fri, Mar 25, 2011

Stereoscopic Cinematography is the science of capturing video or motion picture with the use of a 3D camera. The workshop was held in Janet Ballelos Resort in Matabungkay, Lian, Batangas, on March 19 and 20.

The 32 workshop participants were cinematographers, students and other practitioners in the movie industry. Organized by FSC (Filipino Society of Cinematographers) headed by its president, Isagani Sioson, the main speaker was Oli Laperal, owner of RSVP Film Studios.

It took the 8 crew members of RSVP Films to unload their payload from the 2 vans. While in the process of assembling the equipment, Ariel Reyes opened up the session by introducing the major parts of the 3D camera.

FSC president Isagani Sioson (with videocam) observing the assembly of the 3D camera rig

Ariel emphasized that the production time is at least 3 times longer when producing a 3D movie. However, the revenue is much greater than an ordinary movie since a 3D movie costs 400 pesos in the Imax theaters.

Speaking of Imax, Oli Laperal clarified that Imax is not a theater’s name but a type of theater which is equipped with 3D projectors and sound system. That simply means a 3D movie cannot just be shown in any theater.

Laperal explained that the size of the theater is considered in the planning of the desired perspective (depth) of a 3D movie. To project the depth, there is a corresponding measurement vis-à-vis the distance of audience to the screen.

measuring the distance of the camera to the object which is relative to the 3D depth projection.

A 3D movie intended for the huge Imax theater becomes a 2D movie when shown on tv. It follows that a 3D production should have a version for the big screen and another version for the dvd player or home viewing.

The first thing to consider, according to Laperal, is the distance of our 2 eyes. The 3D camera is actually composed of 2 cameras which simulates the left and the right eyes of the viewer. That’s why it is called stereoscopic cinematography – 2 different angles.

The distance of the 2 cameras is set by the Stereographer. This distance setting creates the desired effect to project the depth of the objects. It is important that the Stereographer knows the script in order to create the required projection.

the view finder of the 2 cameras of a 3D rig

The thing called parallax is the depth of the object in focus. It can be negative – if to be set in front of the screen, and positive – if to be set behind the screen. A 3D movie greatly relies on the parallax for without the parallax then it is just a 2D movie.

The so-called screen is the point of reference. In the given example, a band was singing on the stage. The backdrop of the stage was set in positive parallax to make it appear that it was actually behind the band singers while the audience looked like they are in front of the stage. Take note that the band is the screen or point of reference.

The captured footages or video clip by the 2 cameras are the same except for a small difference in the perspective and angle of the simulated left eye and right eye. In editing, the 2 footages will be merged in a convergence point.

A merged 3D footage is slightly blurred because of the different angle shots. To watch a 3D movie, a viewing glass is used. There’s the cellophane glass which has a red color for the left eye and a cyan color for the right eye.

Oli Laperal of RSVP Film Studios showing the frame sizes offered by digital cameras

Recently, a polarized 3D viewing glass is already developed which is more comfortable to the viewer. Although it costs much, much more than the cellophane type, Imax theaters prefer the polarized viewing glasses.

The movie Avatar became the center of topic since it is the most successful 3D movie to date, earning more than $2B already. Laperal said that Avatar was created using only an HD camera with 3D function.

An HD camera has a frame size of 3X (1280×720) compared to the Red camera with a frame size of 30.7X (4094×2304) – the exact size of film. Surprisingly, Laperal stressed the importance of the story. “The content is king when it comes to movies,” he said.

As to the longer duration of production, the participants saw the difficulty of setting up for the shooting. The camera rig is too heavy for one person and adjusting the lenses to focus on the object needed a tape measure.

Laperal introduced the Parabolic lighting unit called Briese Light. Invented by Hans Werner Briese, the white light emitted by the 4 KVA lighting unit can create a daytime effect. Laperal, however, refused to divulge the cost of the the Briese Light.

The lighting unit invented by Hans Werner Briese

As a bonus to the participants, RSVP Film Studios gave in to the request of shooting sample sequences. Some participants filled in the casting while some assisted in the actual shoot. Laperal conceived the idea of a horror theme since it was night time.

To give emphasis to his statement that content is king, Laperal suggested a mysterious plot similar to the style of Alfred Hitchcock. That a woman would arrive to a mysterious place and leave the audience the question if indeed what the woman saw was true or she was just insane.

a little conference before the actual shoot. Oli Laperal in blue, FSC president Isagani Sioson in striped yellow.

The horror genre is very appropriate for 3D movies since the jolt (surprise to the viewers) can be magnified with the depth. An action genre is also good since the scenes could be greatly enhanced.

The stereoscopic 3D is getting to be popular in the US but only time will tell if it wouldl be embraced by local producers. But recently, the holographic 3D is already a reality. Sapporo beer of Japan came out with the first holographic 3D commercial. (It can be viewed in youtube by searching for Sapporo beer commercial).

Hopefully, we will see a locally-made 3D film soon.

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