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Making the 3D grade

1 March 2010
Making the 3D grade

3D Post Case Study – Digital Vision Chief Operating Officer, Simon Cuff, explains the post production process behind Europe’s first 3D feature film StreetDance 3D.
3D has already become the industry’s hot topic for 2010 with publications dedicating column inches on a daily basis – including consumer magazines. Manufacturers are racing to get the first consumer products to market and broadcasters are pushing to launch dedicated channels. Avatar has shown audiences how far 3D VFX have come, now part of the complete cinema experience rather than another popcorn addition.
This is not to say that there isn’t some scepticism; there is. But this time around, 3D seems to be a different value proposition for the whole industry. Hollywood is not alone; the first 3D movie in Europe in this latest wave is currently in production at Berlin-based facility Post Republic and is scheduled for UK release in May.
Vertigo Films’ StreetDance 3D is set in London and tells the fictional story of a street dance crew who, in a bid to win the UK Street Dance Championships are forced to team up with a group of classical dancers. Starring dance crews Diversity and Flawless the film was shot in the UK on Red and Silicon Imaging’s SI-2K with 3D rigs supplied by LA-based 3D specialist Paradise FX who also supplied rigs for major features such as The Hole 3D and My Bloody Valentine. The producer is Vertigo’s co-founder James Richardson, with direction by Max Giwa.
On set material was recorded on digital film recorder Flashcards. Rushes were delivered to Post Republic’s digital lab as RAW footage on hard disk. Post Republic then created proxies for the editorial process in HD. This was done by syncing the original RAW footage and converting to a format compatible with the facility’s Final Cut Pro. At the same time the facility backed up and quality checked the original 2K/4K RAW footage, and stored to its server. The edit was done by Tim Murrell.
Post Republic began grading the 3D trailer and teaser using Digital Vision’s Film Master colour grading and finishing system last November (the facility upgraded its system specifically for the project) and will complete the feature this month. Film Master’s stereoscopic toolset enables time-saving grading and synchronous workflow for left eye/right eye footage with management of every 3D acquisition format.
Michael Reuter, Post Republic’s managing director, explains, “We have incorporated two stages in the digital lab process. The 2D editorial rushes were created using prebuilt LUTs while selected 3D rushes were custom graded by Joe Van Dalsem and put out to Blu Ray DVDs to be watched on Post Republic’s 3D monitors by selected crew. For the subsequent post processes we used Film Master and a Barco DLP Projector with a cinema RealD system.” The grade was performed by Stefan Ciupek who has recently finished Lars von Triers’ AntiChrist.
The RealD Cinema system applies a polarising filter system in front of the projector lens and passive polarising glasses for left eye/right eye separation. Reuter adds, “For a reliable calibration in the grading suite we decided to technically replicate the RealD cinema experience. Our colourists wear polarised glasses throughout the session watching the grade on the silver screen and finally master onto a stereoscopic DCP (Digital Cinema Package). Film Master allows you to switch the monitoring between stereo, side-by-side or blended overlay at the touch of a button, so it’s ideal for grading, final conform and mastering stereo projects.
“Grading on the RealD system in 3D with polarised glasses works very well but there are some challenges grading on a silver screen due to the shift in perspective,” he adds. “There’s a lot of development to come with this technology and the Dolby system is one to watch out for.”
Post Republic will deliver the movie to the client on 3D DCP, 2D DCP and 35mm (2D version) and it already has a number of other 3D projects in the pipeline. StreetDance 3D itself has sold to virtually all territories worldwide prior to final picture lock and on that basis alone it’s a huge accolade for 3D content.

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