Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Which 3D TV to consider getting

Some thoughts on active vs passive 3DTV technology.  We just purchased the LG 42LW5300 3DTV bundle for under $700 from NewEgg (which is a phenomenal deal), part of their Cinema 3D line that uses the same 3D glasses as you get in a RealD equipped movie theater (the AMC chain here in Bloomington).  This bundle also includes a 3D Blu-ray player, so it's basically a 3D cinema in a box.

We went with the LG Cinema 3D technology for reasons pertaining to the glasses technology.  Being a home with small kids, we didn't want to risk the breakage of more expensive LCS (liquid crystal shutter) glasses that are part of the 3D systems in 3DTVs by Samsung, Panasonic, Sony, and a few others.

We also wanted to be able to invite friends and family over for viewing 3D content (either via 3D Blu-ray, YouTube 3D, or 3D channels on our DirecTV plan) and purchasing and maintaining a number of LCS glasses was cost prohibitive.  Now, with the LG Cinema 3D technology, people can just bring their glasses they received when seeing a 3D movie in a theater.  We also have a bunch of these glasses on hand from our various trips to the theater.

We went with the LG Cinema 3D equipped 3DTV that uses passive polarization in the glasses.  If the glasses get broken or lost (very possible in a home with kids) replacing them is a matter of a few dollars or a trip to the local theater for a 3D movie viewing.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

4K Digital Intermediate workflow for "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"

Interesting interview from the folks at Creative COW with the production team that made working at 4K in real-time.

Re-teaming with director David Fincher after their successful collaboration on The Social Network, Michael Cioni and the team at Light Iron built 5K workflows for real time, full resolution post for Fincher's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. The running time of the 4K print is 2:38, creating a data size larger than six 2K features combined. Cioni and Light Iron co-founder Ian Vertovec spoke to Creative COW's Debra Kaufman about how working that way in real time is even possible, working with David Fincher, and what frame sizes larger than 4K mean for all of us.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Digital Storytelling Degree at Missouri University

This is very cool news!  I hope they're successful and that we can look at their program as a working model.
Digital storytelling could be offered as an interdisciplinary degree at the University of Missouri if some cross-campus faculty members get their way.

Leaders from several MU schools, colleges and departments — including English, communications, film and journalism — are hashing out details of a digital storytelling degree. Pat Okker, an English professor, expects the group to submit a proposal soon.

“The key idea is preparing students to communicate in multimedia environments,” she said in an email, “and the major requires students to develop skills in writing, visual communication and design, and production.”

Read the full article.

Cameras and color bit depth

This is really just a long winded introduction serving as a link to an article on color bit depth and Premiere Pro.  The Sony XDCAM EX-3 cameras we use in our 3D rig are capable of generating 10-bit 4:2:2 color out the HD-SDI tap.  If, however, you're using the onboard SxS cards for recording you get 8-bit 4:2:0 color.  It seems that more and more cameras in the pro-sumer range are now offering 10-bit 4:2:2 recording to onboard media, so folks are going to run into this more and more.

Most people have 8-bit monitors and displays at their disposal, so even viewing their 10-bit content is problematic.  We want to be 10-bit (and 12-bit) aware since most digital cinema projectors are 10-bit capable.  If you've been to a d-cinema screening, you've seen 10-bit color.  Interestingly enough, the Digital Cinema Package (DCP) format supports up to 12-bit color, so it's a little future-proof at the moment.

Now, on to the article about 10-bit color in Adobe Premiere Pro.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Getting ready to teach 3D in the spring

Indiana University allows me to teach a 400 level production course with stereoscopic technology and concepts.  this will be the third semester that the 3D course is taught at Indiana University and we have a great cadre of incoming students.

We're still planning on having the class complete six short productions over the course of the semester with the goal of screening them in the IU Cinema in late April or early May.  We're also working on refining some of the assignments to better assess each students' understanding of stereoscopy.

Best of luck to the dozen proto-stereographers at IU!

Preparing for my graduate degree exam

Grad school, what an adventure!  I just showed my thesis project, "3d Storytelling" to my committee a few days ago.  My project consisted of three stereoscopic 3D short movies:

  • An Ancient Pond (2010)
    • An adventure in ancient Japan full of intrigue and assassination
  • Project Z-6463 (2011)
    • This thriller with a twist will leave you wanting more and looking at mimes in a whole new light.
  • The Golden Book (2011)
    • This documentary about the Golden Book at Indiana University takes you on a journey back to conflict and duty from the War of 1812 through World War II.

These shorts serve to show my committee what I have been able to learn while in grad school as well as what I can create with the great casts and crews to be found here in town.  Overall the shorts were well received and the critiques were all spot-on and workable.

The committee is now formulating the exam questions that will occupy eight full hours of my life in the near future.  I started this journey back in the fall of 2007 and while it has been a long journey (most M.S. degrees are completed in two years), it has been a great experience.

I'll probably have more to post on the subject after taking the exam.

Monday, October 10, 2011

I'm still here, honest!

Alice and myself lifting the 24th tile into place. Anaglyph 3D.
Hi all,

I'm still here, honest!  Work has just been super busy in the mean time since we've designed and installed a 50 megapixel video wall for our building.  Yes, 50 million pixels spread across 24 HD thin bezel displays.  We're driving it from a single computer hosting two Nvidia Quadro Plex units.

Needless to say this has been keeping my extremely busy.  Also needless to say, our huge gigapixel and larger images are going to look incredible on this wall!

Ok, back to work.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Assessing 3D via "Final Destination 5"

I recently saw Final Destination 5 in 3D with a great group of friends, some of whom are also stereographers and filmmakers. Right off the bat I have to say that this movie was pretty engaging if this is your cup of tea. I've not seen any of the previous Final Destination movies, so I can't speak to the series.

I'd like to clarify the following thoughts with this statement: The quality of the 3D in this movie was outstanding. It was about as good as it can get with today's technology and understanding of the art and science of stereoscopy. I'm not saying that it was flawless, but the "problems" that I saw were in no way serious and did not adversely impact the production. In fact, this reminds me that the critical eye that I turn on my own work is fairly well calibrated since I pick on the same issues that the Hollywood professionals are also wrestling with.

The things to improve (in my opinion): Get over the shallow depth of field. Let us explore the volume you're recording. Essentially, that's the only gripe I have for FD5 regarding artistic choices.

I noticed in a few scenes that there was some vertical disparity in background elements, most noticeable in the gymnastics scene with the balance beam and uneven bars. The hospital scene right after also had some vertical disparity. The take home here is absolute camera rig alignment is not yet possible and even with a PACE/Cameron Fusion Platform you can get some unwanted disparity. The stereographer did a great job with VIT (vertical image translation) and roll corrections at the plane of interest (usually the actors), so the vertical disparity was really very subtle and hard to notice.

Some other scenes revealed that the iris settings between the cameras were not 100% matched. This is visible in the bokeh of background point sources of light being slightly different in diameter between the left and right views. I'm sure this was done to equalize the overall exposure of the scene between the cameras since the exposures looked spot on between each eye. The side effect of a slightly different depth of field between the cameras does cause some concern (at least in theory), but actually seeing the effect was a non-issue so perhaps different depth of field effects may actually prove to be trivial if the disparity is minimal.

There was also some evidence of specularity disparity that wasn't corrected, or was corrected for but not 100%. This is most noticeable in the office scenes with computer monitors and other reflective surfaces. They may have wrapped principle photography before the concept of adding a film pattern retarder (FPR) to the front of the mirror box to knock out specularity before hitting the beam splitter glass. The downside to shooting with an FPR in place is even more loss of light in addition to what is lost with the beam splitter glass.

Now, the good things of the stereography. EVERYTHING! The quality of stereo was very high and viewing in our theater was very comfortable. It seems that they were conservative with their interaxial settings and that's ok, better to go with a shorter interaxial in general.

Our theater was equipped with a Sony 4K projector and binocular lens assembly (Real-D) so we saw the left and right frames simultaneously. This really helps with quick action scenes and movies like FD5. Other theaters that use a frame sequential system with a single projector and a Z-Screen or color filter wheel (Real-D or Dolby Infitec) might have had some temporal phase issues with the quick action scenes.

Yes, there was plenty of in your face gimmicks, but for this type of movie, that's par for the course and not a problem.

Overall the movie was fun (if very gory) and the stereo was outstanding and very well done.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Thoughts on picture lock

Picture Lock.  This is when the editor and director of a movie have decided (or the executive producer decides for them) that the movie is visually done.  No more editing.  Once picture lock is declared, you're supposed to hand off the production to the finishing folks for various things like: musical score, VFX, color timing, and other loose-ends business.

Declaring picture lock too soon means one or more of the following:

  • you live with a stinker
  • you shake your fist at the studio and cobble together a director's cut
  • you revoke picture lock and fix things

I just went with the last option for my current project in post production: Project Z-6463.  It was not a lightly taken decision since I have a composer working on the score, but it had to happen.  There's no excuses for this movie to be a stinker and I have no studio to answer to.  This left only the last option.

I screened the movie for two test audiences and notices two things:

  • they laughed at the places I expected (this is good)
  • they yawned at the places I expected (this is bad)

Revoking picture lock means that I can go in and try to remove the places where people yawned and leave intact the places where they laughed (or were scared, this is a thriller after all).  So, the moral of this posting: revoking picture lock is not a cardinal sin.  Your crew will adjust and everyone is going to appreciate the better edit after all is said and done.

Now to actually finish this project and get it listed on IMDb.

A new filmmaker's network, Stage 32

I've received an invite to join a networking site for filmmakers called Stage 32 (here's my profile).  If this looks like something you might be interested in, please let me know and I'll send out an invite.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Indiana Filmmakers Network - Bloomington chapter

Last week we had a great first meting of the Indiana Filmmakers Network - Bloomington chapter.  Lots of awesome people attended and I'm looking forward to next month's meeting.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Time to mention another book

Well, I've been able to chew my way through another book about making movies.  This time we're looking at a book about where movies are actually made.  I've read that you don't actually make a movie in front of the camera, that's just where you capture the performances.  You actually make the movie in the editing suite.

Think about that for a moment.

So I just finished reading The Invisible Cut: How Editors Make Movie Magic by Bobbie O'Steen.  It was very well written and used clear frame grabs to illustrate editing concepts along with diagrams.  She talks about visual techniques, not technical operations per se.  For example, she illustrates concepts like crossing the line and how to manage the line of action in complex scenes from the point of view of the editor.  Her examples were taught with frame grabs from 12 Angry Men, which, if you think about it was a really difficult movie to cut.

She has several other great examples and the book read pretty quickly.  My favorite section was her analysis of the opening montage from The Big Chill.  The though and creativity put into those cuts by Carol Littleton and director Lawrence Kasdan is impressive when deconstructed.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sintel in 4K is traveling to 4K Fest

I was recently contacted by 4K Fest to see about screening Sintel in 4K at the event.  We're working with them and Ton at the Blender Foundation to make this happen.

Semi-related to this are my efforts toward capturing 4K time-lapse clips.  So far I've just been grabbing scenes.  The plan is to eventually edit together a narrative of some sort.  For now the videos that I've created and tagged as 4K are on YouTube at 4K.  Sadly the option to playback at 4K seems to have disappeared, so the best you get is HD.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Another Book to Recommend

Well, I finally finished reading Hitchcock/Truffaut and it was a real treat! If you have a chance to read this, do so and posthaste. I'll quote two parts that I found particularly interesting:

Rear Window (pp. 219, 222)
FRANÇOIS TRUFFAUT. You open up with the perspiring face of James Stewart; you move on to his leg in a cast, and then, on a nearby table, there is the broken camera, a stack of magazines, and, on the wall, there are pictures of racing cars as they topple over on the track. Through that single opening camera movement we have learned where we are, who the principal character is, all about his work, and even how it caused his accident.
ALFRED HITCHCOCK. That's simply using cinematic means to relate a story. It's a great deal more interesting than if we had someone asking Stewart, "How did you happen to break your leg?" and Stewart answering, "As I was taking a picture of a motorcar race, a wheel fell off one of the speeding cars and smashed into me." That would be the average scene. To me, one of the cardinal sins for a script-writer, when he runs into some difficulty, is to say, "We can cover that by a line of dialogue." Dialogue should simply be a sound among other sounds, just something that comes out of the mouths of people whose eyes tell the story in visual terms.
WOW! So simple and so powerful. Hitchcock began his career as a title card painter in the silent movie business and learned to tell a story with imagery rather than dialogue. Here's another piece of conversation that jumped out at me on page 334.
F.T. Are you in favor of the teaching of cinema in universities?
A.H. Only on condition that they teach cinema since the era of Méliès and that the students learn how to make silent films, because there is no better form of training. Talking pictures often served merely to introduce the theater into the studios. The danger is that young people, and even adults, all too often believe that one can become a director without knowing how to sketch a decor or how to edit.
I've worked on two near-silent movies: An Ancient Pond and Manila Envelopes. I've been thinking about making a fully silent movie since starting this book and having just read this part of the conversation with Hitchcock, I'm thinking it's a really good idea.

Now, to write a script....

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Building a quasi-3D Blu-ray for "An Ancient Pond"

So I'm using my first of three thesis projects as a guinea pig for packaging all of my 3D movies so people can enjoy this 3D goodness in the comfort of their homes.  I'm currently transcoding the Blu-ray image for An Ancient Pond for burning to a BD-R on campus later this week.  Since I don't have access to a true MVC Blu-ray 3D encoding suite, I'm going with the next best thing.  An Ancient Pond is being encoded on the disc in three different formats:

  • Left eye only for folks without a 3DTV setup and no desire to use anaglyph glasses
  • Red/Cyan anaglyph encoding for 3D fans who have a 2DTV
  • Side by Side squeeze for people with a 2nd generation 3DTV than can process SxS media

This was you can choose your method of viewing and have a 2/3 chance of doing it in stereoscopic 3D.  Ideally I'd be able to encode in full resolution MVC, but that'll come later.  I have a thread over on Creative COW asking people about how to best achieve this without forking over $4000+ for the MainConcept MVC encoder.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Project Z-6463 in progress and in 3D!

Dr. Elizabeth Riley in her lab (D.J. Mincy)
We have one shooting day in the can and two evenings to go and we'll be wrapped on Project Z-6463.

We shot our interior scenes last week with D.J. since her schedule was very tight.  We're shooting our exteriors this weekend and we'll be wrapped.

The post-production will take a week or three for the editing until we get to picture-lock.  After picture-lock we'll bring in our composer to work on the score, we're really excited to have an original score from an IU Jacobs School of Music composition student on this project.

More updates later here and up on Kickstarter.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sintel in 4K at the Seattle International Film Festival

I was contacted by the Blender Foundation last week to help them deliver the 4K DCP of Sintel to the Seattle International Film Festival.  We packed this in the IU Advanced Visualization Lab (my day job) as soon as the project released the 4K frames.  Turns out Sintel earned Laurels from SIFF!


The DCP fit onto a 32 GB thumb drive (formatted NTFS to ingest on the Sony LMT-200 media block) and was mailed Express Mail to SIFF.  We'll hear back later today if it ingests properly.

Everyone at SIFF, you're gonna LOVE Sintel at 4K!  The level of detail that the artists put into the production is incredible and at 4K you'll see every little bit of awesome in the movie.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Some philosophizing on 3D

I sent this message out to our 3D video and animation email list at IU and thought that I'd post it here as well (somewhat truncated).  It lays out my current philosophy on stereoscopic 3D which, of course, is subject to change as I learn more and make more movies.  Here ya go.

Fact: color movies were (and still are) more costly to shoot than black & white. {same with 2D vs 3D}

Fact: extra training is needed to shoot with color film than with black & white (lighting needs and slower film speed mostly). {same with 2D vs 3D}

Fact: early color efforts really looked terrible, the process was still developing (please pardon the pun). {same with 2D vs 3D}

Fact: later color processes (e.g. Technicolor) improved the fidelity significantly and people started to want to pay more.  You want to see and all black & white Wizard of Oz (which has a lot of tech parallels with Coraline if you consider color == 3D for story purposes)

Now, on to some real quotes from the early era:
“The process of Color motion picture photography [has] never been perfected...it would tire and distract the eye, take attention from faces and acting and facial expression, blur and confuse the action....” Douglas Fairbanks, 1930
‘Whether color can make black and white pictures as obsolete as sound made silent pictures, is, as suggested, quite another question. The silent picture was slain overnight by the jawbone of Al Jolson, whose Jazz Singer threw a hitherto sceptical industry bodily into speaking likenesses. But color is not so pronounced a revolution as sound’  Fortune Magazine, 1934
I don't think: sound == color == stereoscopic 3D

I do think, however, that these progressions are stepping stones to increasing the fidelity of the tools to make movies.  If writers, directors, stereographers, cinematographers choose to use these tools to convey story, great.  If they're there for emotional impact, great.  If they're there for eye candy, great.  If you got a reason to use (sound, color, 3D), great, use 'em!

People still make silent movies (albeit with a score usually) today in the 21st century.  People still make black & white movies (albeit with a slight bit of chroma from time to time {e.g. Schindler's List, girl with the red coat} but not always) today in the 21st century.  People still make flat movies today (albeit with 3D graphics and effects rendered monoscopically) in the 21st century.

Content creators are going to use the tools that they choose to use and the language of those tools will continue to evolve. There are established norms and expectations for the use of sound (atmospherics, score {Jaws, any monster movie}, effects on voices {guard programs in TRON: Legacy}).  There are established norms and expectations for the use of color (woman in the red dress, cowboy in the black hat, bon vivant in the colorful suit, etc.).  These technological tools have had decades of fairly common use to figure these things out.  The first 3D movie screened for tickets was back in 1922 (The Power of Love), then not again until 1952 (Bwana Devil), both of which had mediocre reception. 1953 saw the much more successful release of House of Wax, made for $1 million and has a lifetime gross of $23.7 million (I wish I had invested in that production!).  I can't find a breakdown of 2D vs 3D ticket sales, but that type of movie lends itself to 3D.

Would Bleak House be improved in 3D?  Perhaps, but I'm not confident that the knowledge of 3D and polish of the tools available to create in today 3D are at the level needed to make ANY movie as good or better in 3D.  Some movies will just benefit right out of the gate, some may NEVER benefit.  How would Casablanca look in color?  Or as a silent?
"Of all the gin joints in all the world, she has to talk into mine."
That just sucks as a title card compared to Bogie acting it for a talkie.

Some movies just aren't going to be better in 3D and if they aren't better you'll have a much harder time justifying the added cost.  On the flip side, if a movie would have been killer in 3D, but was shot flat due to budget, that's just a crying shame.  Gone with the Wind as a black & white?  Yes, it still would have been a classic movie, but would it have had the same staying power and punch that it has enjoyed all this time?

Friday, April 22, 2011

How to Export for packing into a DCP

Please note, I will be updating this post (writing a new post, actually) with a lot more streamlined process in the near future.

This post is really for the 3D production class at IU, but other folks may like to read it as well, enjoy.  These examples are based on Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 and footage from our Sony XDCAM EX3 cameras.  I'll go over the setup and export settings for making intermediate files suitable for packing into a 3D DCP (digital cinema package) that we'll screen at the IU Cinema on May 1st.

First, a general overview.  To pack a DCP we need to get the picture and sound essences of your movie.  In the case of a 3D movie with stereo sound, there are four essences: Left Eye frame sequence, Right Eye frame sequence, Left audio, Right audio.  The frame sequences are high quality image files, usually in the DPX image format, that will fit the 2K image container and run at a rate of 24 true frames per second.  The audio files are monaural WAV files with a sample rate of 48 kHz, and a bit rate of 24.

First, you need to create two exact copies of your picture locked final edit.  Append an L at the end of one copy's name and an R at the end of the other copy's name.

  1. Go into the copied sequences and select all of your stereo container sequences
  2. Enable multi-camera on these sequences
  3. Use multi-camera 1 for the Left master edit copy (MC1)
  4. Use multi-camera 2 for the Right master edit copy (MC2)

Next, let's prepare a proper 2K container sequence for each eye in our project with our chosen cinema aspect ratio of 1.85:1 or 2.39:1 (a.k.a. Flat or Scope).  The example here is designed for Scope.  Keep the frame rate at 23.976 and set the pixel dimensions at 2048x858 (this is for Scope, if you're editing for Flat use 1998x1080) by enabling Desktop as the Editing Mode at the top of the new sequence dialogue.  You'll use this as a container sequence for framing in Scope and exporting a properly sized DPX sequence.

Nest your Left eye edit (MC1) into your Left 2K container sequence and view it to check for head room and proper vertical alignment (not 3D VIT disparity in this case).  This is pretty easy if you shot your project with a Common Top framing.  You'll also need to scale up your movie from an HD size to fit into the 2K size container.  For Scope we'll scale up 107%, for Flat you'll scale up about 104%.

Once you have your left and right 2K container sequences setup, you'll be ready to export your DPX sequence.

Hit Command + M to open up the export dialogue and select DPX as your format.  You'll need to make sure that the "Export as Sequence" checkbox is selected.  Verify that the pixel dimensions are 2048x858 and that the frame rate is 24 (not 23.976, but true 24).  Check the "use frame blending" option since you're asking Adobe Media Encoder to perform an inverse-telecine operation.  Make sure to create a destination folder for your Left Eye image sequence and another folder for the Right Eye image sequence.

Next you'll be ready to setup your audio export.  This is a little convoluted since the DCP packing software requires that each audio file be a monaural file for each channel at 48 kHz and 24 bit.  It simplifies things if you create two more container sequences for this part, label one of them as Left Audio and the other as Right Audio.  Drag your original picture locked edit into each of these container sequences.  You'll now use a stereo audio effect called channel volume on each of these sequences.  For the left sequence you need to mute the right audio channel.  Do the opposite for the right sequence.

Now you're ready to export your two audio files; one for the left and one for the right.  Hit Command + M again and this time select Waveform Audio File as your format.  Make sure to choose the sample rate as 48000 Hz, mono channel, and the sample type as 24 bit.

Once you have all of these files ready to go, we can pack a digital cinema package.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday, April 8, 2011

Preparing for NAB 2011

So I've been busy with teaching the 3D class here at IU as well as the day job with the Advanced Visualization Lab.  Add in preparing for NAB 2011 and I've been busy.  Not to mention my pre-production work on Project Z-6463 (which is going well so far).

I'll be concentrating on ultra high resolution technologies like 4K cameras and displays as well as stereoscopic products.  4K stereoscopic items will be of special interest. :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Musings on 3D for last week and this week

I've been collecting stories and links and will now try to put some of my own thoughts to said stories and links.

First up, some links close to myself and IU.

This Saturday, March 26th, at 3:00 pm will be a reprise of The Best of the Advanced Visualization Lab - 3D in the world class IU Cinema.  If you missed our premiere showing back in January, please make some time and get your free tickets to join us on the 26th.  We'll be showcasing 3D media from researchers and educators as well as enjoyable student projects.

The pre-production work on one of my thesis projects is plowing ahead nicely.  We have a full cast for Project Z-6463 and I'll be meeting soon with the costumer to design the look of the characters.  As of now, we are 62% funded in the Kickstarter project and are hopeful that we'll meet and possibly exceed our funding goal.

The editing for my first thesis short 3D project, An Ancient Pond, is almost complete.  Just need to tighten things up here and there and smooth out the pacing.  We'll then be on to the music and foley editing.  Once that is complete, I'll be generating a DCP so we can screen the piece in the IU Cinema on May 1st along with some other 3D movies from Telecom students.

Now for some links of a more general nature.

Broadcast Engineering has a story titled Real-time transport of 3-D from the camera to the screen by Nigel Seth-Smith.  This reads like a white paper looking at challenges and possible solutions along the signal path for broadcasting 3D content.

Filming for The Hobbit as directed by Peter Jackson has begun as of today!  They're using 15 3D rigs built with RED Epic cameras for the production.

The Short and Sweet 3D film festival is taking entries.  I need to polish up my various projects and get to sending them in!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Telecom 3D Showcase in the IU Cinema

Mark your calendars, the Telecom 3D productions will have their night in the IU Cinema on Sunday, May 1st at 6:30 pm. Dress up and come out to see some great 3D productions from Telecom undergrad and grad students. The event will be added to the IU Cinema calendar soon.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Chris is Going to NAB

I've just booked my flight and hotel for NAB this year.  I'll finish teaching the 3D class at IU Monday night and catch an EARLY morning flight Tuesday to get to NAB in time to attend the Master Class in 3D Filmmaking, co-taught by Buzz Hays from Sony and Steve Schklair from 3ality Digital.

The rest of NAB I'll be looking for 3D and 4K+ resolution cameras, displays, and support equipment.  The rumors of the Sony 4K/8K CineAlta camera are drool-worthy and I'm also excited to see what RED has on tap.

Monday, February 28, 2011

YouTube updated their 3D support!

YouTube has updated their support for 3D videos and in the process simplified the tags needed to enable 3D viewing.


The new way is simply to add this tag if you have a Left|Right framepacked fileyt3d:enable=LR

Thanks to Sophie for sending this along to me.  Now I have to go and edit the tags on all of my 3D movies as the old tags are deprecated and won't work.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hire good, skilled crew for productions

Just a note for upcoming productions.  Make sure you hire good, skilled crew members.  Especially key crew such as the property master and head of construction.

That's something to get fired for.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Telecom T600 presentation

I gave a presentation today in the T600 lecture series about the development of the 3D class at IU.  The presentation was basically two parts:

  • What 3D in the movies means
  • What the 3D class is designed to do (get students jobs in 3D)

Here are the slides, they won't make much sense to folks not in attendance, but then again, they might.  The presentation was recorded and here is the recording for your enjoyment.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Some movie books I like

So I'm looking at my bookshelf and thinking about some discussions we've been having in 3D class about knowledge and where to find it.  Listed below are some books that I like and suggest if you're looking for something to read.

I've read and used all of these books and value them for creativity and developing knowledge.  I have several more books ont he bookshelf that will probably be added to this list as I read through them.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sintel 4K DCP is complete

HD frame from the production
The DCP version of the 4K Sintel at 8 bits per color is packed and checked.  This is an InterOp packed Digital Cinema Package and is playable in any DCI compliant digital cinema.  It is not keyed or encrypted and is re-released according the the CC 3.0 license of the original.


This is a directory containing six (6) files.  You'll need all six of them for the DCP to be valid. There is also a TAR archive available for ease of downloading.  If someone wishes to mirror the DCP, please do so and enjoy.

Most modern D-Cinema media blocks can read a USB hard drive or thumb drive formatted for: NTFS, HFS+, and EXT3 filesystems.  You can't use FAT32 for this as the largest file, the video essence, is far larger than the 4 GB file size limit under FAT32.

When the 16-bpc version is available, I'll pack that into a DCP as well.

Nice job everyone, it's a good story and very well done.


p.s. There are other 4K-mono and 2K-3D DCPs in there as well, enjoy.

Developing a 3D Advanced Production Class - What it's Like to Teach on the Bleeding Edge

I'm giving a presentation later this week about the development and teaching of the 3D advanced production class I teach here at IU.

  • Date:   Friday, February 25
  • Time:  12:30-1:45pm
  • Place:  RTV 226

Developing a 3D Advanced Production Class - What it's Like to Teach on the Bleeding Edge

3D movies have come, once again, into the public eye.  Modern 3D technology has overcome many of the shortcomings present in the last Golden Age of Hollywood 3D circa 1955.  We are now in a position to develop 3D movies that can stand on the merits of storytelling and cinematic craft without 3D problems hampering the success of the production.  The technology of stereoscopic production has come a long way since Sir Charles Wheatstone published his paper concerning stereopsis in 1838.

Now, 173 years later, Hollywood and Indie productions are finding fresh success at the box office while at the same time discovering that precious few people actually know HOW to make a good 3D movie or TV show.  T452 was conceived of and designed to address this knowledge gap and equip our students to successfully compete for jobs on 3D productions after graduation.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Creation of the Sintel DCP has begun

I'm part way through the packing of the Sintel DCP.  They did a good job of intermediate file preparation, but I had to take the extra step of splitting out the 5.1 audio score into discrete monaural WAV files for the DCP packing software.  Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 made short work of that.

After checking the 20,000+ frames for consistency the packing has begun.  This is actually the second attempt at a pack, the first run hit a snag around frame 8000 for some reason.  I've noticed that the DCP software can get a little persnickity if the host computer has been running for a week or more.  So, after a fresh reboot we're packing again and are somewhere around frame 4000 as of this blog post.

After completion I'll be able to test the DCP at 2K with our temporary media host as well as over at the IU Cinema at 2K via their Dolby DSS-200 screen server.  I'm expecting the Nvidia Quadro Plex 2200-D2 to come in in about 2 weeks, we'll then be able to run our 4K projector at full resolution and play back Sintel at full 4K resolution.

I hope to have good news to report in the morning.  After the DCP has packed and been tested, I'll post it to the AVL ftp server for interested parties to partake of.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

1/5th of the US box office comes from 3D

An interesting and validating article about what 3D movies contribute at the box office.


Creative Commons licensed 4K animated short available

Wow!  Sintel is making available a 4K intermediate version of the short animated movie.  The current version is stored as an 8 bits per pixel TIFF sequence that weighs in at 160 GB.  They are in the process of uploading a 16-bpp version that'll weigh in at 650 GB.  The frame dimensions are 4096x1744, which is 2.35:1, a little narrower than CinemaScope.

I'll be downloading these intermediate files and packing a 4K resolution DCP for use at IU pronto!


CineGrid demonstration at Disney a success

Very cool work by the CineGrid consortium showcasing advanced networking that allows for 4Kp60 and 2K stereo video content to be worked on at distributed sites.


Metropolis at the IU Cinema

I'm really looking forward to seeing Metropolis with my wife at the IU Cinema.  This is the restored version with an additional 25 minutes and a live salon orchestra from the Jacobs School of Music.  I believe this is a 2K DCP presentation, but I won't know fore sure until I deliver the special treat DCP later this afternoon.  This special treat is a 4K monoscopic DCP, but it will be projected at 2K for this screening.


We have tickets for Saturday night, hope to see a lot of you there.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Refitting and realigning the 3D video rig

Last week I ordered some more parts for the 3D video rig designed and built for the AVL.  These new parts will be a refit to help with tripod clearance when tilting down and overall stability improvements.

The rig is built from 80/20 aluminum profiles and designed around the underslung split-beam concept.  In this case the upper camera is the RIGHT camera and the LEFT camera is underslung on the front.  This is the preferred configuration for handheld shots for a few reasons:

  • lower center of gravity
  • much lower height clearance (doorways can be scary)
  • lower overall profile helps with sight lines when shooting at sporting events

Sunday, February 13, 2011

My Kickstarter project is live!

My Kickstarter project for funding the production of "Project Z-6463" is up and live now!  Head on by to read up on what we're going to do if we're successful with the fundraising.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

DirecTV announced the launch of 3net 3D programming

Exciting announcement from DirecTV.


I had heard that Discovery was out searching for new 3D content, here's the reason why.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Kickstarter project applied for!

We've applied to Kickstarter for a project to fund one of my upcoming 3D productions entitled Project Z-6463.  Let's hope Kickstarter approves and we can get to the raising of funds!

Article about the filming of "Sanctum" in 3D

Here's a neat article (well, an article that links to THE article) about the filming of Sanctum.  What I really find neat is the quote from the producer:
Producer Andrew Wight concludes the paper with : "If 3D is done well, it shouldn't draw attention to itself; it's just part of the story. We're not using 3D as a gimmick. But what it does do, in this kind of movie, is make the audience feel like they're closer to what's going on. They've really got that sense of being there, more so than if you're watching it in 2D."
The actual article is here.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Pixel Arrays for Digital Cinema

So we make things around here for Digital Cinema since the incredible IU Cinema is fully DCI compliant at 2K and will be considered an E-Cinema for 4K content.  The digital projectors both have a 1:1 PAR, that's pixel aspect ratio, so the dimensions of source material are projected true.  The pixel array values we use when creating content and packing digital cinema packages (DCPs) are:

  • 2K container = 2048x1080
    • 2K Silent 1.33:1 = 1440x1080
    • 2K Academy 1.37:1 = 1480x1080
    • 2K European 1.67:1 = 1804x1080
    • 2K Flat 1.85:1 = 1998x1080
    • 2K Scope 2.39:1 = 2048x858

  • 4K container = 4096x2160
    • 4K Silent 1.33:1 = 2880x2160
    • 4K Academy 1.37:1 = 2960x2160
    • 4K European 1.67:1 = 3608x2160
    • 4K Flat 1.85:1 = 3996x2160
    • 4K Scope 2.39:1 = 4096x1716
The accepted aspect ratios are: 1.89:1 for the container, 1.33:1, 1.37:1 for Academy, 1.67:1 for European, 1.85:1 for Flat, and 2.39:1 for Scope.  We only need to know the full container aspect because that is what we pack the DCPs in.  Movies aren't generally made with this 1.89:1 aspect in mind.  Most everything you'll see these days are made for Academy, Flat, or Scope.

For a bit of history regarding aspect ratios, check out this article from the Creative COW.

We're a creative team

My wife, Meagan, posted about our creative projects over on the family blog.  She's got the right of it, that's for sure.


Update on "Project Z-6463"

Well, Project Z-6463 (working title) is still moving forward, though at a slow pace.  I'm planning to finish the pre-production prep soon and get to casting and rehearsals by the end of the month.  The idea is to shoot over a weekend in mid-May (probably the weekend after IU graduates).  One day and two nights will give us enough material to cut together this 5-7 minute short.

I'll be casting 10 roles, three of them speaking.  This will, of course, be shot in 3D with a Scope aspect ratio (2.39:1).  I'll also try to work out how to develop a decent 5.1 sound stage for the final product.  Hopefully we can develop a showcase for the IU Cinema so you can see this on the big screen!

We're also planning some stunts and will be working with some very talented IU students that are also attending stunt school in their free time.

3D technology primer

Wow, Mashable really did their homework and gathered a lot of information into a great article about the current state of 3D technology.  It's a long read, but well worth it if you're interested.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Some images

Sean and I on location for "An Ancient Pond"

Students from the first 3D class on location. This version of the rig weighed 45#.

The rig on a small jib in one of the IU production studios.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Building a new matte box for the AVL 3D rig

We're on our second matte box for the 3D rig and it's looking pretty ratty at the moment.  I'm in the process of refining the design and building a new matte box.  At the moment we're using heavy matte board and it holds up pretty well given the use it receives.

I'd like to see if I can source something like non-corrugated plasticard to make a stronger version in the near future.  Things like this are always fluid and as long as we have a decent matte box for the glass we'll be good to go.

3D in the IU Cinema, a success!

The IU Cinema hosted a showcase of 3D content developed with the help of the IU Advanced Visualization Lab.  We showed content from three sources:
  • A 3D modeling and animation class at IUPUI
  • The 3D production class at IU Bloomington
  • The Advanced Visualization Lab
The content included entertainment and educational animations, live action comedies, drama, and thrillers as well as a hybrid CG/live action educational piece.  All of this was screened with the leading edge equipment in the THX certified IU Cinema at 2K resolution with a Dolby Infitec 3D system.

The event was quite a success by any measure as 218 tickets were sold and 138 of them were actually used (it was a free screening on a Sunday afternoon).  This was the first screening in 3D at the IU Cinema and things went very well.

We learned a lot about processing 3D content to create digital cinema packages (DCPs) that could be played by the Dolby DSS-200 media block and Barco 2K projector.

Student 3D work - "Gone Nuts"

Linked here is a project created by the students in the first 3D video production class at IU.  It's called "Gone Nuts" and was shot and edited over two weeks.  The crew had a great time on the shoot and everything went pretty well for them, no nasty surprises.


Links to YouTube for my 3D and 4K resolution clips

Some 3D clips

Some 4K clips (hard to view for 99% of the population and way too compressed by YouTube)

An old project wants a freshening

So I get an email from a subject I worked with almost two years ago.  I shot a brief profile of an art student here at IU to develop my 3D chops.  The resulting footage was actually pretty decent for an early attempt as there was only one glaring bit of excessive parallax in one setup.

The student, Annalea, emailed me to see if the profile was online somewhere.  This got me to thinking that cleaning up the footage is not a bad idea at all since I've learned so much about 3D editing in the intervening time.

So, my to-do list now includes polishing and frame-packing for YouTube 3D Annalea's 3D student profile video.

3D projects I'm involved with

I'm involved with a lot of incredible 3d projects here at Indiana University as well as out in the real world.  The biggest chunk of my time is dedicated to teaching a 3D production class in the Department of Telecommunications at IU.  I'm also planning and producing three short movies for my M.S. degree final project.

In addition to the official 3D projects, I'm also involved with a few independent projects with some very talented people in and around Bloomington.

So, this concludes your introduction.  More later (famous last blog words, I'm sure).