Archive for the ‘3D Cinematography’ Category

Transformed Cinema

June 22, 2011

Michael Bay is attempting to induce cinema operators to meet spec with 3D projection — like using lamps that aren’t spent.  I saw Bay and Cameron at Paramount on May 18 discussing 3D cinema projection and cinematography after showing clips of the new Transformers.  We are talking about the big theater on the Paramount lot and it was the best 3D projection I have seen in months and Bay’s 3D work looked great.

The system there is the XPand shuttering eyewear system on a big screen but what was used was not a true product and serves only to highlight the problems of stereoscopic projection.  In order to get decent brightness Paramount used two projectors and such a remedy is out of the question for neighborhood theaters. The eyewear dug into my nose — I was aware of them — but the ANSI image contrast is great and cross-talk is zilch.

I am bemused to recount that I was the leader of the design team that invented and manufactured the first IR linked shuttering eyewear, CrystalEyes.  The XPand eyewear are a direct descendant of CE I, the original model with non-folding temples.  They even use optically compensated pi-cells, which I also invented.  The StereoGraphics product was $1,000 and although heavier and a bigger than the XPand eyewear they were more comfortable.

Paramount should put in a silver screen and use the RealD XL projection system.  (I also helped to develop that but I have no interest in RealD.)  That would be brighter than the XPand double projector contraption and use but one projector.  Not sure the contrast would be as good, nor am I sure the cross-talk reduction would be as good, but on balance it would be a better experience with relatively unobtrusive eyewear.  Paramount, I think, wants to keep on with a matte screen because of color balance issues and also because side-seats will suffer in image quality.

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The Green Lantern

June 20, 2011

I’ve just witnessed the implementation of a different theory of stereoscopic projection geometry — the Green Lateran Method. No floating windows but very large positive values of parallax. That gives more stereoscopic resolution in terms of pixel count, or as Buzz Lightyear would say: to infinity and beyond.  But the average value of positive parallax is in the “normal” range since lots of shots are flat as the proverbial board — or nearly so.  And curious that the villain in the film is named Parallax.  Or were they thinking more deeply about the subject than I can imagine?

It’s true that it’s a job of conversion and that process is much maligned.  However I do know of a successful example.  My sister-in-law Sara converted to Judaism.

Remembering Chris Condon

January 3, 2011

I was manning the Super 8 Sound booth at a tradeshow (the name of which escapes me) in the mid-70s in Los Angeles. Set up in one corner of the booth were two Super 8 projectors mechanically interlocked showing 3-D movies on a small screen.  As people came by they put on cardboard glasses to have a look. The movies had been shot with a Super 8 rig of my devising. (more…)

Dark Country — An Interview with Thomas Jane

August 28, 2010

This unedited interview was recorded a couple of years ago at the Shanghai Grill in Beverly Hills.

LL:  What gave you the idea of shooting a 3-D, I’ll call it a horror movie?

TJ:  Let’s call it a thriller.

LL:  It’s a thriller.  Because “horror movie” is wrong.  Today it means gore.

TJ:  Yeah, this is much more…  a psychological thriller.  And the idea of exploring some psychological issues in the vein of film noir, where the heroes are typically conflicted psychologically and are working out some deep personal issues… For me, shooting the film stereoscopically was an allusion…  The depth in the picture gave me a chance to explore depth in filmmaking.  In other words, I felt like I could heighten the symbolism that’s inherent in the dreamlike narrative of film noir, with a heightened sense of depth and using the visuals in a way that would cast them in relief, bring some of the visuals to the foreground, and allow me to explore psychological issues in a visual way.  (more…)

The Decline of the Stereoscopic Cinema

August 9, 2010

The Decline of the Stereoscopic Cinema

My concern in these columns has been the stereoscopic cinema, and secondarily stereoscopic television.  (By “television,” I mean that device that sits in your home that plays Internet protocol TV, cable channels with video on demand, discs, and home movies and —oh yes! terrestrial broadcasting.)  I’m looking at the August 4th Display Daily, which is sent to professionals in the display industry.  It’s published by Insight Media, and this latest column called “Pushing Back Toward the Ditch” was written by the boss of Insight Media, Chris Chinnock, a paragon of conventional wisdom.  In the past month there has been a significant pushback in the press with regard to the stereoscopic medium, and I have to hand it to Chris for summarizing the current print media climate and for bringing me out of hibernation, since this is the first blog (gotta love a word that rhymes with smog and hog) I’ve written in a month.  (more…)

AVATAR AS THE JAZZ SINGER

June 19, 2010

The popular myth of the coming of the sound cinema is that The Jazz Singer was the decisive film.  It may have been an important moment, but if you read The Speed of Sound by Scott Eyman you will see that the story is more nuanced.  Today we have a candidate for the 3-D Jazz SingerAvatar.  (more…)

RECLAIMING 3-D

June 19, 2010

In 1980 or thereabouts, a change occurred to computer graphics technology.  It was an important one for me personally and for my company StereoGraphics because it allowed us to create stereoscopic displays based on raster graphics so useful for industry and science. Prior to that time high-end applications for computers outputted images that looked like wire frames or line drawings.  These were variously known as calligraphic, stroke or vector displays.  I remember playing an arcade game in 1981.  It was called “Tank Command,” and cast and crew on the set of Rottweiler Dogs of Hell at EO Studios in Shelby South Carolina got quite involved with it.  Between takes we played “Tank Command,” with its eerie green lines against a stygian background.  The farther away the object was, the dimmer were the lines – that was how depth was conveyed – that and perspective and relative size.   These displays had an electron beam that was steered to write lines on the inside of a green phosphored cathode ray tube and it built up an image that perceptually added up to one that didn’t flicker and appeared to be integral even though portions of it were written at different times.   (more…)

CLASH OF THE 3-D MOVIES

April 27, 2010

Five years ago when Disney decided to release Chicken Little in 3-D, they had to be thinking about a couple of things:  One, as a tactic, taking a movie like Chicken Little and releasing it in 3-D might be a good marketing approach.  It gave the studio something to talk about, and 3-D might create buzz.  Two, strategically, it was a way for the studio to further the cause of digital projection.  The studio hoped to accomplish two things:  Anti-piracy might be better enabled with digital; and digital distribution could reduce print cost.   (more…)

Converted to Conversion, 2

April 7, 2010

As a result of my experience with Paramount and Star Trek I became friendly with people at one of the conversion houses, In-Three, located in Thousand Oaks.  In-Three had recently undergone a change in management, and because I thought they had a lot of promise I went out and met with them and did a couple of training sessions.  Their technique was almost purely mathematical and I thought that what they needed to do was shift more toward the subjective and the aesthetic, rather than the analytical.  After all, the composition of stereoscopic images is ultimately judged by human beings, and various ratios, distances, and parallax values have a less than one to one correlation with perception.  The final arbiter of a 3-D image is a human being, and it is better to train somebody to have a well-developed aesthetic sense than to fuss around with a lot of equations.  In-Three did came up to world-class standards, but mostly because of the change in personnel and their reorganization and not through my minimal efforts. (more…)

Converted to Conversion, I

April 5, 2010

The idea of taking a two-dimensional image and turning it into a stereoscopic image is not a new one.  The idea of being able to pull this off for a motion picture sounds like a fantasy.  There are two extant techniques – conversion on-the-fly and conversion I supposed one would classify as off-line, requiring some considerable effort.  I am not going to consider on-the-fly technology because the state of the art is abysmally abysmal.  (more…)