Stereoscopic Supervisor Robert Neuman Talks Disney 3-D
RN: 3-D doesn’t come without a cost. There is definitely a price tag. I don’t deal with the numbers and money that much, since I’m doing the creative side, but there is a price tag to it. However, it’s relatively inexpensive when you do it simultaneously the way we’re doing it. If you go back and try to convert something or you do it after the fact as a follow-on process it starts to become more costly. But by integrating it [from the beginning], it’s the most efficient way to do it. So simultaneously we would be creating your left and right images.
DS: Film’s like The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast, we’re talking something very different.
RN: Yes, it’s like a whole different kind of process.
DS: These films are some of Disney’s greatest theatrical treasures. Does that put any pressure on you because fundamentally you’re changing the visual essence of the original film?
RN: Well, yes and no. As an audience member watching it, it is a whole different experience, which is one of the great things about it. You’re taking a great film that everybody loves and you’re giving them [the audience] a fresh perspective, a fresh pair of eyes to watch it with. But on the other hand, if you were to close one eye, the same exact film that you’ve always loved, it’s there. We’ve had the benefit that all the titles we’ve worked on or are working on have the original filmmakers involved. You don’t have to worry about straying from the vision of filmmakers because the filmmakers are right there.
But then, on the other hand, to be honest, my approach is story first. It’s trying to make the 3-D appropriate for the moment of the story. So I think if you’re looking at what the story is demanding and not trying to do grandstanding with the 3-D, if you’re trying to serve the story and you do it well I think it’s hard to go off track. It keeps you on the rails, I think.
I think I’m pretty much on good ground because of my approach. But beyond that, like I said, it was really nice that we had the original filmmakers involved. And then, at the end of the day, if you close one eye it’s [the film] been basically untouched. Actually, some of the ways they've [the films] been touched has been for the better. Some filmmakers said, “God, we always wanted to fix up that little paint pop that never got fixed.” Well, it’s like we have the hood up and we’re there, so we can tinker with it.
What we did was enhance stuff like effects, volumetric effects like rain. With rain, when you’re drawing 2D rain, it’s a couple of drops. But it’s another thing in 3-D. You want to feel that there is a volume to them. And so to do that we needed to create more of that rain but even then, the approach was to not tamper with the film.
So to create more rain what we did is we multiplied out the original 2D artwork effects levels. I guess another company could have gone the route of adding in some particle effects of rain, but we wanted to keep the original flavor, the original 2D rain art work levels. To do that we would take it and kind of build up the volume of it, duplicate it and scale it up a little bit as it’s coming towards you. And so it all has the same exact flavor of the original artwork, and that’s just for those few cases where there is something volumetric we had to do. Otherwise, it’s the same. Like I said, if you close one eye it’s the same exact film.
DS: How much does making a 3-D film impact the design work? How much of your work involves helping others learn and get more comfortable with the process?