What were the challenges of delivering a project in stereo?
The biggest challenge is that you can’t see the film in stereo while you’re working on it, and so we needed to change the pipeline to review it in stereo. After these stereo reviews, we realized that we had to re-render some shots with ridiculous inter ocular distances to increase the depth, using it to greater effect as a storytelling device that will impact viewers’ emotions. For instance, it became clear that wide shots looked flat, and that shots looking up or down needed to be exaggerated to increase drama. So, after our first stereo screening we adjusted about half of the cameras to create a better experience.
Practical footage was another challenge, as we didn’t have a budget to shoot the B-roll and timelapses in stereo. Ultimately, we decided to convert the 2D shots to stereo in Nuke. Our very talented compositing crew made 40 shot conversions in a very short amount of time.
Have you seen the final project on the big screen?
Carlos Cristerna: Yes, but only I’ve seen it! It plays in the Shanghai marketing center. When we finished the project and viewed the stereo film in various formats here in Boston, it was clear that we would have to dial the color grade and exposure to work with the marketing center’s projection system. So, we went to Shanghai and delivered the film in person. We brought three different versions of the film with us, with slight variations in color, contrast, and exposure. We were also prepared to adjust on site with some LUTs if necessary. Fortunately, however, one of the three pre-backed options worked like magic, and the film looked great. After all this testing, we had a private screening with Jack Portman and his client that was very successful. It was a happy ending: the client was happy, his client was happy, and so were we.
What are you working on next?
Carlos Cristerna: We’re currently just wrapping up production of a film for an even larger project. It was done in less time than Ba Dai Tou (admittedly not in 4K or stereo), but it was a significantly bigger development.
We can’t wait to show you!