Right on the heels of the throughly amazing Clone Wars Q&A, we’re back on the digital stage to see John Knoll and Dennis Muren talk about what we can expect from Attack of the Clones and Star Wars in 3D. To the jump!
On the panel: Dave Collins moderating with panelists and Industrial Light and Magic legends Dennis Muren and John Knoll.
Q: What was it like to do the post-process 3D conversion?
John: As you’re converting a shot to stereo, you need to define what all the spatial relationships are. How far away is the back wall, what ist he shape of that object? Having been on set I can remember what those things were. The artis who were defining shape and depth, on the other hand, had to be reminded what the shape and depth were.
Dennis: The shots we were working on had a ton of elements that needed to be layered together. These things weren’t made to be seen in depth, they were made to be seen flat, so we had to do a lot of interpolating.
Q: Were you having conversations whe you were originally making the film about perceived depth even though shots were only meant to be seen in 2D?
John: We have to think about depth even in 2D so we can get things like atmospheric effects and depth of field correct.
Q: What is it about 3D that helps the films
John: There are some really dense frames. The 3D helps us make the locations of people, places, and things much more clear and easier to absorb.
John: When you’re shooting natively in stereoscopic 3D, you have to make different choices than 2D. You have to budget depth in 3D much differently than you do in a 2D film. When you’re converting a film, you have more leeway to say you want to give the background more depth and to do more stylized 3D. It can give you an advantage with certain shots, but shooting natively in 3D allows you to get things right as you shoot.
Dennis: The conversion process is really an art form.
John mentioned that he worked with James Cameron on Avatar and was influenced by his stereoscopic style. Noted that one lesson he learned from Cameron was that it was okay not to go too deep with the depth.
Q: How long was the conversion process?
John: Episode One was about a one-year conversion.
Dennis: Episode two will probably be about the same length.
Q: What are some of the challenges you’ve run into so far with converting Attack of the Clones in 3D?
Dennis: It’s a wild-and-crazy thing. It’s much more “depth-y” because the movie warrants it. We’re playing things up, we’re showing up things with a lot of depth. We’re working on making things less flat and we’re trying to see how much we can get away with before it’s bothersome and immersion breaking.
We’re now seeing a clip from Attack of the Clones in 3D, the first time this has been shown off. Real3D certainly is using the opportunity to advertise the crap out of their product. I’m noticing a little bit of crosstalk while I’m watching, but I think it might just be where I’m sitting. Moving into some starship work with people standing in the background. Actually this is looking a lot more like Avatar’s level of effects than Episode 1. A speeder chase looks really solid, Coruscant’s depth of field is much better, looks great during Anakin’s jump off the speeder.
Kind of an odd effect when Obi-Wan is talking to the diner owner, not sure what didn’t quite work but something was a tad off. The good news is things don’t seem to be too dark, which is often a problem for post-processed 3D.
We’re seeing the Yoda duel and it looks great. Depth of field is working well, not seeing any motion blur. I know this is still a rough cut, but it’s already looking fairly polished. Yoda in particular looks fantastic in this conversion, and the live-action actors don’t look flat which is great news. This is looking to be a step up from what they accomplished with the Phantom Menace 3D conversion.
Dennis and John have a demo from the post-conversion company to demonstrate how the process works. Dennis also recommends getting a Fujitsu 3D camera for 3D enthusiasts.
John: For anything that is computer-generated, we run what’s called a depth pass.
A bunch of models were given to Prime Focus (the conversion company) to serve as references in order to accurately gauge the depth. Reference photographs gave the conversion team scale and perspective in order to accurately get depth of field correct. There are a ton of things that hae to be isolated in every frame. It’s clear that they have done a lot of research and tinkering to get everything set just right. Lucasfilm really wants to get this right and it shows.
Dennis: We’re really learning this as we go along because we’ve never done anything like this before.