In January 2006, POV Previs was contracted by Walden Media and New Line Cinema to construct previsualization for a new film being shot entirely in stereoscopic 3-D called JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH. Loosely based on the Jules Vern classic, JOURNEY would embark on exploring a rich tapestry of story ideas using Real D Cinema technology. Although several CG films have been released utilizing Real D technology (CHICKEN LITTLE, MONSTER HOUSE, BEOWULF), JOURNEY remains the first live action film to use this shooting format.
JOURNEY's director, ILM vfx veteran Eric Brevig, though quite familiar with the previs and stereoscopic processes. required a method to convey the 3-D potential of JOURNEY to Walden Media in order to help secure film's the green light. After an initial previs test was constructed by POV, approval was given to begin round one of several previsualization efforts beginning mid January 2006.
POV supervisors David Dozoretz and Brian Pohl assembled their first team of artists with two goals in mind. First, conceptualize the major story beats of the film in explicit detail and secondly construct accurate 3-D red/blue anaglyphs of key sequences to highlight a sequence's 3-D potential and solve potential stereoscopic issues. In addition to Dozoretz and Pohl, eight previs artists worked over a period of 16 weeks to construct 14 sequences averaging anywhere between 40 to 120 shots per sequence.
Two primary sequences, "Big Drop" and "Floating Rocks," were identified as Brevig's hero sequences to convert to 3-D anaglyphs for preliminary 3-D viewing. POV's previs files were collected and sent to Reality Check Studios where 3-D conversion took place. Since POV's previs files were already being constructed to a proper, but arbitrary scale, Reality Check was capable of adjusting the digital environment within Maya to easily match real world scale and then inserted their own custom camera script to mimic the parallel and beam splitter cameras that would be utilized on set for shooting. The results of these initial tests allowed Brevig to analyze potential 3-D framing issues, inter-ocular and convergence problems and to see the results on a larger screen.
After the completion of the initial 16-week conceptual phase, Dozoretz was promoted to Second Unit director because of his familiarity with the stereoscopic process. The production then traveled northeast to Montreal where Dozoretz lead a second team of six Canadian previs artists (NeoReel) during principle photography. This team's task was to complete additional sequences not initially previsualized in the first conceptual previs phase and to provide answers to potential 3-D issues that would occur during principle photography.
Toward the end of production, POV was called up upon once more to complete a third and final phase of visualization. Six additional previs and three postvis artists were assembled to begin the process of providing last-minute previs changes that were effecting principle photography plus to provide new CGI temp shots and postvisualization 3-D elements onto existing stereoscopic plates. This phase lasted an additional four months.