In March the DC Section met at Atlantic Video as part of Quantel's multi-day presentation of their Stereoscopic 3D processing platform. The event featured a screening of scenes from 3D theatrical releases, including footage from director James Cameron and segments from the recent "Hannah Montana" movie. The images were projected by two vertically-oriented projectors with polarizing filters and audience-worn passive polarizing glasses.
3D images are created by manipulating the position of identical images which are shown to each eye at slightly different times or with optical polarization. Where visual elements are placed within the interocular distance (average distance between the pupils of both eyes) determines the perceived depth those elements have in the scene. Elements can be behind, on, or in front of a virtual "z-axis" plane. Live 3D is shot with two cameras mounted in tandem and synchronized to make identical recordings. The distance between the camera lenses determines the interocular distance of the scene.
Typically, 3D material has been edited in 2D form--by cutting all the scenes for a single eye and then cutting the reel for the other eye. The 3D end-product is then viewed.
The great disadvantage of this is that editing decisions are made without being able to see the final 3D effect, often leading to many changes. Likewise, imperfections in the 3D source material may not be noticed right away, and fixing them can be extremely time-consuming. Quantel was able to demonstrate real-time manipulation of the 3D image to correct flaws in the original footage and to create particular depth effects.
This meeting was particularly interesting to viewers who have never seen high-quality 3D video in a theatrical setting. Many of the difficulties with 3D systems of the past have been solved and the end result is quite surprising (and much less prone to viewer discomfort). Live productions, such as the Hannah Montana concert, are particularly effective in 3D as they give the viewer a greater sense of presence at the event.
The Section would like to thank Quantel (Rob Forman and Rommanett Pardo) as well as the staff at Atlantic Video for their hospitality.
-- Eric Wenocur, Section Manager and Program Chair
DC Section members and guests prepare for 3D