Once again I went to the 3D Film Festival here in Los Angeles. (Read my post from last year.) While the panelists yesterday did some posturing, they also offered some great tips on shooting, editing and distributing in 3D. Here’s a few of keepers, followed by my unstructured notes…

Note: The panelists were Tim Alessi (LG Electronics), Ted Kenny (3ality Techica), Corey Turner (Paramount Pictures), Randy Berg (Deluxe), Don Bland (3Net), Michael Meadows (New Wave Entertainment 3D) and the moderator was Caroly Giardina (author of Exploring 3D: The New Grammar of Stereoscopic Filmmaking.

– LG is bullish on 3D TVs in the home. “Glasses Free” is still a ways off, but the panel agreed that Americans over 30 need to get over their squeamishness about wearing glasses. International audiences and young people have no problem with it, and the 3D experience from polarized glasses is cheap and good.

– When shooting 3D on a zoom lens set up, favor the wider side. Wide angles look better in general. Telephoto causes a “cardboard effect” which is fine, if that’s what you’re going for. But most people don’t prefer shots with volume.

– New Wave and 3Net agreed that for distribution, you need to start with both a good idea and something that people would actively seek out in 3D. If it doesn’t have a 3D “hook,” there not yet the economic incentive to go the extra mile. Corey Turner of Paramount (and formerly Sony) said Hollywood films are obvious in which ones are chosen for 3D treatment — but the panel was eager to see what happens after ‘less obvious’ films like Life of Pi and Great Gatsby come out.

– We are still waiting for 3D event in T.V./mobile markets like Avatar was for theatrical. Ted Kenny said that when iPad goes 3D, it “will be like God spoke.”

– Theatrical 3D is not going away. Any weakness in the domestic market is far outweighed by the international demand. China is even mandating 3D production/projection in some cases.

– 3D at the Hollywood level is always director driven. Corey Turner has worked with directors like Barry Levinson, Tim Burton, Ridley Scott, Michael Bay etc. — there are two approaches, he said. Either they think of 3D as integral to the story or an afterthought. You can tell which movies took 3D storytelling into account, no matter what techniques the director ends up favoring.

– Most theaters still project 3D too dark. The optimal way to watch is at a whopping 14 foot lamberts of brightness. The average, for a good theater is 4.5 foot lamberts and many theaters are well below. If the 3d projection looks dark and lacks detail, it never hurts to ask the manager to crank up the bulb.

– When shooting 3D, have at least a 42-inch monitor on set to watch playback. 3D scales down too well, you won’t see problems for big screens unless you have a big monitor.

– Although the pros thought the new cheaper ‘prosumer’ cameras at the $3-4k price range are limited, the panel was enthusiastic that some energetic indies will soon be coming along to show 3d techniques that “we are missing”.

– Rookie mistakes… Over-the-shoulder shots do not work the same in 3D. You will need to do some math when setting up 3d shots — accept that. Panning horizontally at a fast speed = bad.

Unstructured Notes

6M units – over 90% in 3 years on big tvs – LG guy Tim – only one bluray model doesn’t support 3d bluray

Glasses free is a ways off – 6 pairs with polarized set

3net Don Bland – Feb 2011 – 300 hours programming – friendly competitor ESPN – biggest 3d library in world

Concert footage

Tim LG – a greater need for more and more content but more content avail than people realize – you can connect to Internet if cable provider doesn’t do 3d – vudu, 11-23 Disney titles

Michael Meadows New Wave – 3net original content buyer – has to be an idea that works in 3d

Ted Kenney 3ality – space shuttle trip around LA – SOCameramember – 3d is not down, it’s a growth market

10 conversion houses in last year started up – “when iPad goes 3d, it will be like god spoke”

Orthostereo – lifelike humanlike 3d

The rest of the world is catching up – people watch soccer in 3d in UK

China has 3d govt mandate

31 3d tv networks – china will add 10 – 4 in us only 2 fully programmed

Corey Turner – paramount – cinema is still growing – internationally still active even if domestic is down – paramount initiative to have high quality – transformers stereography proved audience – new star trek will be in stereo, gI joe, 5 others

Alice – Tim burton decided to do conversion – key titles people definitely want to see – advertisements that lets people know actually 2d

Push to get 3d bluray, 3net, mobile

Brightness is a big challenge theatrically – 8 or 9 times out of 10 not the filmmaker choice – 14 foot lamberts was great – transformers at 6 foot lamberts compared to 4.5 standard

Hugo 4 – 14 test – amazing

Tv is brighter than cinema in general

Christie tech with laser type roll out in 18mos – 6 foot lamberts at premieres and press screenings standard xenon

Cranks up brightness of bulb story

JLo – world tour – out 2013
Music in 3d – the tech will always be there

Small market but a lot of talented people

Randy Berg Deluxe – distro – not new a tech really 1900 stereo camera patent – 1916 deluxe started

3d is just beginning really – need a device to enjoy – someone needed in the middle to get from filmmaker to consumer – viewing experience is more interactive

Drives good behavior of audience – he jokes

Still fragmented – not just film as it was 80 years – anaglyph format on DVD – bluray is a fantastic experience – digital cinema is wonderful – small devices will be growing – good and bad – more file formats – FCC mandates closed captioned – bitmaps? What is the best way to do it

Standards – Tim from LG – Bluray standard is set – active or passive standards on the hardware side

LG chose passive – cost and comfort user barriers

Gaming – depth dialing – big game titles coming down the pike

Apps more than bluray for games

3d screens on airplanes

Broadcast model more efficient than streaming on demand

3d scales down well

People don’t want to watch a long movie on small device – more short form, skewing younger

3d as storytelling tool – Corey said there are two approaches of filmmakers – either integral – tested 3d cams on mib 2 and didn’t like – went for conversion approach – wanted actor to look like the actor we know – played characters out in front of the screen – depth moves dolling in on characters

Shea stadium scene – blue screen – 2d version of shot – flat – 8 different zones, volumize different areas – what type of 3d movies are we making? How use lens flares?

Michael Bay – how bigger and better

Some films director didn’t see in 3d until a few weeks – bringing in experts

Filmmaker story – producers software used hadn’t even been invented when film was started

Pablo Mystica – lots of edit machines

Prosumer $3-4k cameras can show us new things – exciting

Work on the wide end of lens – tele is flatter – monitor on set on a screen at least 42 in – want to see it on a size larger than LCD – everything looks good on the LCD – 3 distinct layers of 3d – last layer before 50 feet – 50 feet away is too deep

Monocular depth cues – lighting is important

Every 2d film is 3d to 2d conversion – so forget – over the shoulders dont work the same – horizontal panning fast is bad – intense shaky camera – do shake in post

Volume in shot – there is math involved – just go shoot and practice, that’s good – read the theory

Where depth is played – prosumer cameras can’t change that much

Good books on it

Need a breakthrough tv product like Avatar content wise – Americans need to get over wearing glasses

Only an American over 30 problem

Automated tech 2d to 3d would be good – more cheap way to convert

Hardware tools remove art currently

Theater experience – spend millions on movie – make sure theater experience lives up to that – especially if you pay extra

Auto tools do poorly with reflections

DPs have to die away – network execs need to go away

Weekly show – more content

Output deals with international networks to share top quality content