Stereo 2009

With all the turmoil in the world seems technology is moving fast and may be a key component in the recovery, all studios seem to be investing in stereo feature films, suddenly there is a true interest in stereo content, games are getting into it too and now nVidia has presented a stereo capable graphics card.

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And of course things are not as easy as that, not only games now will have to generate double content an astonishing refresh rate and crazy resolutions while maintaining the complexity they have but in the world of postproduction things are going to change quite a lot as generating 3D content in stereo is easy but the compositing task is not, plus all the nasty tricks that work so well in the flat TV, even at HD resolution won’t be possible to be used. No more crap motion blur, no more crap depth of field (in fact you won’t even use it), no more cheap lens flares, nor vignetting, and of course the odd paint here and there will be gone too.

Since Panasonic, Mitsubishi and other are about to release of already have decent-priced stereo compatible TV sets, HD capable and all that, and since broadcasters like SKY already have done emission tests, well, seems like it will be around the corner isn’t it? Companies like Quantel have now Pablo, which is a compositor that handles stereo editing in a very clever way, a bit expensive though but then again, do you want stereo? there is no option apart from Pablo.

So what to expect? well, it is not as easy either for the director and producer as the editing itself and the way stories are told will have to change; think about fast cuts while changing the focusing plane, that won’t work anymore, nor also driving the viewer focus from point A to B, again we are going to have to re-think how we tell stories.

At this stage of course most of us, even with the experience of many years living with this technologies, are going to have to adapt and on the way there will be tons of problems and mistakes but seems to me if we are open to these changes it is going to be plenty of fun.

For those of you interested in the money side, yes things won’t be cheaper either as these new systems are very expensive, the operators running them are few and of course the whole production will be at least double size (we have to render two eyes after all and remember we won’t be able to use many tricks, this time we will have to do it well).

Now the final questions is, in my humble opinion, is this another gimmick? or is this technology here to stay? I personally think they are a piece of technology that brings real value on games, visualization, immersion technologies, outdoor advertising but… on a film? please… have we not learnt that the technology is not the story?

I may be wrong, in the meantime bring it on.



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