In January of 2011, the video department at Elevation Church was given the task to figure out how to shoot, edit, and deliver 3D Easter material. Needless to say, 3 months later we did it, not only for one piece but for three different elements for our Easter Worship Experiences. It was an amazing worship experience, where Pastor Steven preached a powerful word and another 2200 people raised their hands to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Following our Easter Worship Experiences, the Elevation Offices were flooded with phone calls and emails from other churches wondering how we did 3D. I thought this would be a great opportunity to share with all of you what we learned working with 3D.
***Now, the disclaimer: I’m no expert in 3D, this is just how we decided to do 3D based on experience, time, and technical ability***
Phase 1 - Research
The first step in doing any project on this scale is doing the research. Thats where we started. We jumped in to a million and one different articles, books, and conversations to figure out what was the best way to do 3D for us.
The first thing we discovered while researching 3D were the different types of 3D. We were surprised to find that there were so many options. The two most popular options are RealD and Anaglyph 3D.
RealD is what you see in movies today, and it is what every one thinks of when you say 3D. Wiki defines it as a digital stereoscopic projection technology made and sold by RealD Inc. It is currently the most widely used technology for watching 3D films in theaters. Although this is the best quality 3D, it also requires a large budget, due to the fact that you have to rent special projectors, special switchers, and special computers to actually play Real D.
We decided to go with Anaglyph 3D. Anaglyph Images are used to provide a stereoscopic 3D effect, when viewed with glasses where the two lenses are different (usually chromatically opposite) colors, such as red and cyan. Images are made up of two color layers, superimposed, but offset with respect to each other to produce a depth effect. Anaglyph 3D can be played on any monitor, projector, or TV. So, if you’re on a budget, this is the best way to go. It also produces great 3D images.
Once we figured out what type of 3D technology we would be using, we began learning the theory behind 3D. To do 3D well you really need to understand how it works.
In 3D, convergence is critical. Convergence is, simply put, the difference between the left and the right image of an object when the two images are superimposed. This is what creates good 3D. Think focus for 3D.
Once we felt like we had a grasp on how 3D actually worked, we needed to figure out how to shoot 3D. Just like there are many different types of 3D there are many different ways to capture 3D. Here are just a few.
Beam Splitter Rig- Best way I can describe it is by pictures and video:
The basic concept is two non-3D cameras that are connected by a rig. One camera is pointed down through a piece of glass that reflects the image, and the other camera is shooting straight on. It sounds simple, right? Wrong! There are a huge number of variables.
- The cameras must be genlocked.
- The cameras must have the same exact settings, meaning iris, shutter speed, focal length, picture settings, etc.
- The lenses not only need to be the same type, but have similar artifacts.
Needless to say, this type of rig is incredibly complicated and is mostly used by professionals that specialize in 3D.
Another option is to have a camera like the Panasonic 3dA-1, Sony HXR-Nx3d1, or PMW-TD300. This is the route we chose. At the time the only real option was the Panasonic 3DA-1. The team became very familiar with this camera.
One of the big benfits of this type of camera is that they are two cameras in one. All the variables I was mentioning about the beam splitter rigs are non existent due to the way these cameras are manufactured. Convergence is changed not by correcting the distance between the cameras, but by a dial, just like you would change an iris on an HVX. This is really the way to go, especially if you’re not familiar with anything 3D.
Phase 2 - Production
We had done our research, planned everything out and now it was time to begin shooting. Production was actually rather simple. We did a lot of work on the front end so we were well prepared for what was to come.
My biggest advice when it comes to shooting 3D is have a 3D monitor. To be honest, this was probably the most important piece of hardware we had besides the camera. It provided our director, Jared Hogan, the freedom to compose shots that looked great and took advantage of 3D.
As a camera op, with Panasonic 3DA-1, you don’t have a way to view the image well in 3D so you tend to frame your shots in a way that looks good in 2D, but that doesn’t always work in 3D. The monitor allowed Jared to fine tune the 3D, and made our jobs incredibly easy.
Here are some tips when actually shooting 3D:
- Layers Layers Layers! You need this to give depth and character to your shot. You can make a subject and a wall interesting in 2D, but in 3D you have nothing to work with.
- Keep your movements clean. Leave the camera on a tripod, dolly, or steadicam. If you want hand held make sure you have a camera op who has a steady hand.
- Remember 2D and 3D composition are two different things. Don’t expect to get the same shots that you would usually get. 3D takes time and practice. Have patience and experiment.
For us, production was the easiest part. We had done our research and knew how to get the things we wanted. All that was left was post.
Phase 3 - Post Production
Post was a little bit more challenging. Everyone we talked to told us to use Cineform 3D, and they were right. It made our jobs relatively easy. It allowed us to edit in 2D and switch to 3D by the pull of a menu. Super simple.
Once we got back home and into our workstations we imported the footage using Cineform 3D. We quickly realized that we didn’t import any audio, so we had to import a 2D version through Final Cut Pro, sync the two images up and re-export a 3D version with audio. There was probably a smarter way to do it, but we had 3 weeks to complete the video and we wanted to be wise with our edit time.
The biggest thing we learned about editing 3D was to hold on to your shots longer than you normally would. Longer shots give the audience more time to engage with the 3D elements. Also, this goes for any project, but don’t be afraid to pull in people who have no production experience to give feedback. Let’s face it, we’re not creating content for really technical video producers, but for the everyone else.
Once edits were approved we did minor convergence adjustments in Cineform 3D, we exported and prepared it for our Easter Worship Experience.
I really do want to thank Pastor Steven for always pushing us to do creative things that push our knowledge and skill set. I’m super thankful to have a leader that allows and expects that kind of performance. Also, the Lead Team at Elevation really gave us great feedback that allowed us to make these pieces the best they could be. Finally Larry Hubtaka, who pushed us constantly to make sure we were doing this 3D thing correctly.
If you haven’t seen our 3D Easter Experience, it check out at:
[skip to 12:50 to see 3D]
- Steven Lester