Archive for the ‘Filmmaking’ Category


May 12, 2010

The future of the motion picture industry will be determined by the popularity of stereoscopic films.  This monstrous Caliban, ridiculed for decades, has been rehabilitated and taken to the bosom of the industry for the best of reasons; in the last few years a giant share of profit from motion pictures released in theaters has come from 3-D movies.  Although revenue is rising attendance is flat, and the additional revenue is attributable to stereoscopic movies.  This is good news for the studios, because DVD sales are plummeting and this makes up for that loss of revenue.  And it may well be that sales of 3-D Blu-ray disks are going to be a source of additional revenue.  So hooray for 3-D. (more…)


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…)


April 14, 2010

A third of theatrical release revenues since the opening of Avatar in December have come from a handful of 3-D films and when you consider that 125 features have been released in the same timeframe I’d say it’s all over but the shouting for 2-D. Call me bullish but the same pattern emerged when sound was introduced. Given that as background let us consider that the biggest source of revenue comes from the largest theaters with the biggest screens. So let’s consider the subject of the biggest 3-D screens.  (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…)


March 25, 2010

When Edison and Eastman came up with 35mm film – the design of the perforations and the frame — they didn’t make any provision for soundtrack.  It’s obvious why –movies were silent in 1895.  They came up with a frame aspect ratio whose shape was pretty close to a square – between 1.3:1 and 1.40:1.  If I had to guess I’d say they did it because they knew that of any rectangular shape that would fit into the round image created by a lens, a square would make the most effective utilization of the lens’s coverage and 1.3.7 (or whatever it was) was pretty close to square.  But 1.37 is, after all, close to a square but a little bit horizontally extended, and people are used to looking at most pictures in what today we call the “landscape mode.”  I think most paintings and most photographs are painted or taken in the landscape mode – probably because our eyes are side by side and their field of view favors horizontality. (more…)


January 18, 2010

If you take a left- and right-handed circular polarizer and you lay them on top of each other on a light box, you will see that they will extinguish the light.  Do the experiment by using the filters from a pair of glasses from a MasterImage or a Real D show and put the polarizers together so that the retarders are facing each other (those are the sides of the filters that are facing the screen). If you rotate one with respect to the other you will see that the extinction varies.  What’s going on here?  It’s circularly polarized light and you would think that you wouldn’t get a variation in extinction as you do for linear.  But you do get a variation and you will see that the image will go from pretty dark to, depending upon the material you’ve got, a sort of amber color that transmits more light. There is quite a noticeable variation in both density and color with rotation. So the head orientation does matter, except that the falloff isn’t as great as it is for linear polarized light. (You can also hold the filters sandwich up to a light source – like a desk lamp.) If you flip the filters around the other way so the retarders are facing outward you have linear polarizers and you can try rotating them to confirm that they work as described earlier. You will note that even for the circular case you perceive the extinction to be at a maximum when the linear axes components’ are at right angles.  (more…)


January 15, 2010

A large percentage of light passes through when the filter’s axes are parallel and this is called transmission, and a smaller percentage of light passes through when the axes are at right angles and this is called extinction.  The ratio of the two is called the contrast ratio or the dynamic range.  For good linear (or as I said earlier, some people call it plane) sheet polarizers for stereoscopic applications, the materials used usually have transmission between 30 to 35 percent and the dynamic range is about 3000:1 for the lower transmission material. In other words, only 1/3000th of the light in transmission passes through when the axes of the polarizers are orthogonal (extinction).  For circular polarization the dynamic range is about a tenth of that for good linears.  (more…)


January 13, 2010

From the time I was kid to my student days as an undergraduate in physics my abiding passion was light and vision.  Since my earliest years I have been interested in creating images and in understanding the role that light plays in image creation.  As a student no other part of physics engaged me as much as the study of light.  (more…)


January 1, 2010

Touching history.


 I staggered off the Air France flight from Los Angeles to Charles de Gaulle Airport and I fell into the arms of Bernard Benoliel and Laurent Mannoni of the Cinémathèque Française and into their waiting taxicab.  Off we went through the streets of Paris – a grand blur – having had only a few hours of sleep in the past day,.  I’d like to be a really good traveler, but there is nothing I can do to hide the terror – or maybe, as Kurtz said, the horror.  Flying in a metal cylinder at 36,000 feet requires surrendering complete control to the pilot and the guys who designed the airplane – which is not necessarily easy to do, especially if you think about all the things that could possibly go wrong.  The bright side is that death would be instantaneous.  And the security measures at the airport are aggravating and not adequate, as has been lately demonstrated. But sitting there in the airplane, even if you’re in Business Class, leaves you feeling one-down because the guys in front of you are in First Class where it’s really comfortable.  (But of course there is the ultra-secret first class-plus that the first class passengers envy.) Business Class is a lot better than sitting in the cattle car.  At least the seats aren’t chipped and everything works, more or less.   (more…)