In this installment of Tstops I’m going to discuss a very special project I worked on this past year. It has finally started its festival circuit and a BTS trailer has been released. The project: Genesis, Directed by my good friend Noah Shulman, features a very special concept by the artist and collaborator Ion Popian. Technically speaking “Genesis” is the first 3D HFR short film in existence. I am proud to be a part of it.
Essentially Ion, an architect and artist, turned his cameras lens on the organic forms of ink and water capturing beautiful stills. Noah, approached Ion, and together they conceptualized a phenomenal idea, shooting the organic forms in 3D. Not just any 3D, but high frame rate 3D (HFR). Not just any HFR 3D, but slomotion HFR 3D….. Its complicated but the results are simply stunning.
Noah approached me about this project last February, and I immediately signed on. The chance to shoot a 3D short, in HFR no less has been incredibly fascinating to me. To help get this project off the ground Noah reached out to 3D producer Dimitris Athos, a veteran digital 3D producer who knows the whos who in the 3D world. The 3D world is a bit different than the standard film industry as its a blossoming technology, and the trade secrets are a plenty. To get a project like this off the ground, you need to “Know a guy….” if you catch my drift. Dimitris is our guy!
In order to physically shoot 3D you need many things. The first and foremost, more important than the cameras, lenses, and 3D rig is a knowledgeable stereographer. Dimitri using his magic, secured the amazing Alonso Homs, Stereographer of the 3D hit “The Great Gatsby” by Baz Luhrmann. This is a guy that knows what hes doing.
Here is the BTS trailer, I will get into the nitty gritty after.
We shot this project on two RED Epic cameras. The RED camera is the preferred camera for most 3D projects because of its size and quality, though it is possible to shoot on any camera with shutter sync, critical for matching the shutter timing. We were shooting on a 60FPS timebase, meaning the playback is intended for 60P projection. We shot the majority of the project at 4K @ 120 FPS so we would get a 50% speed reduction. This also allows for a standard 30P 2D version to be easily made for non 3D projections.
One of the RED Epics was mine, but the other was donated to us by the ever awesome Diamond Bros. The Ultra Prime lenses and Quasar 3D rig was from Abel Cine Tech. They gave us a deep discount to support the project, we thank them profusely for supporting independent cinema.
The many challenges of 3D are specifically camera related, sync, roll, and convergence and interocular. They must all be matched and perfectly meshed together to sell the effect. Alonso did an amazing job and kept us moving along. Without him, we would have gotten nowhere. Its amazing how difficult it is to just set up one single shot, never mind the filtration, wireless matched follow focuses, zoom settings, aperture, etc… a tiny miscalculation means disaster in post. Alonso used Red Cine X and another custom 3D program to check the footage. This is critical to ensure the 3D effect is working properly and there are no sync issues.
The lighting and setup was rather simple. I wanted to create an ethereal ambient light in the tank, and let the ink do the heavy lifting. Truly, what Ion did with regards to color combination and special ink additives really gave me something beautiful to shoot.
We used a special set of perfectly matched Arri Ultra prime lenses. Lens matching is critically important because any small imperfection between lenses means more time and work in post to re-align the image, and color. Post work in 3D is essentially double the price in all respects. you are dealing with twice the footage, storage, and rendering times. You really want to get it right the first time. We made sure we did as much on set as perfect as possible. Considering the small crew, our set up time was longer than average, but I can see with a proper camera team, the pace of working will be similar to a standard production.
This was a major learning experience, and gave me a whole new understanding and appreciation for the complexities of a 3D film. It is a major endeavour. So I give a big thanks to Noah, Dimitris and Alonso for giving me the opportunity to learn about this amazing technology!
Thank you for reading, please follow me on twitter for more from this blog! @timurcivan
Coming up: The Small HD DP7 PRO SX Oled Monitor, a truthful image in your hand, or on your camera….