Stereoscopic Supervisor Robert Neuman Talks Disney 3-D
RN: It’s an evolving process. I don’t think this is as integrated into those earlier phases of design and story as it eventually will be, as 3-D becomes more ubiquitous. But currently I’d say it’s more of an educational process and an awareness process at the studio, done through just turning out good content and having everybody be exposed to that. Also [it involves] doing seminars and giving 3-D classes to make people aware of what makes good 3-D stereo composition versus 2D.
I think we’re reaping the benefits of that as we plant those seeds. But it isn’t to the extent where we have a stereo guy working with the story department. But like I said, I think just having a creative culture at the studio where we’re turning out really great 3-D and pushing the inflow of it, and as everybody is coming to see the results happen on the screen they’re taking that back with them. When they’re doing storyboarding, a part of their brain is thinking about this. They’re getting to have an idea and concept of what it’s going to look like when it lines up going through the whole process of being on the screen. So I think that it’s [the impact of 3-D on design] on that scale versus a more proactive thing.
DS: What have been some of the greatest challenges in integrating new 3-D technologies, new methodologies, and new paradigms into Disney’s existing production pipeline?
RN: Well I think I’m fortunate, because it’s animation and we have all these tools. I can allow filmmakers in different parts of the pipeline, the layout artists, the lighting artists, I can let them basically do their work largely unhampered without having to worry about the 3-D because I have enough tools in my tool belt to create a really great end result. If this were live action and the cinematographer made a particular camera choice, it could be the doom of that shot. That shot would be relegated to being second-rate 3-D. But largely speaking, I do cycle back and forth with layout for some things. There are some things and cases where it’s just the most efficient way and it makes no difference to the esthetics of the 2D to make a certain change for 3-D.
For example, a typical one that we run into is low camera angles. If you have a low camera angle shot where if you’re looking at the composition of the frame, your horizon line is going to be really low in frame. That type of shot.
Well if you’re talking about a 2D graphical composition, what they're interested in is where that horizon line is falling, keeping that really low horizon line. But what they’re not looking at is depending on where they’ve physically placed their camera, that little sliver of ground plane, the bottom of the frame, may be representing two feet of ground plane, or it could be representing 20 feet of ground plane.
So Z axis-wise, for stereo composition, it makes a big difference. For 2D composition, graphically it’s the same thing. So it makes my life a lot easier for some of the shots to nudge the camera up a little bit. It keeps the integrity of the shot from a 2D standpoint great, and it gives me a better result in 3-D.