Getting ready for 3d

Have been filming in Banff, Canada for the last week. Helicopters over the rockies, meeting bears whilst hiking, riding chairlifts over forests, filming cocktails being mixed and food being presented. Alright already, some jobs, you’re the statue and some jobs you’re the pigeon. This was a full-on pigeon job.

But as I tried to capture the thrill of the chairlifts, the awe of the scale of the landscape and just the general depth of everything, blurry backgrounds and pull-focus shots weren’t really cutting it. Watching the (high definition) rushes back were pretty awesome, but nothing like being there.

So, for the first time, I thought ‘this really calls for 3D’.

All rigs I’ve seen so far have reminded me of the early days of cinematography, where this huge machine is hauled up to a spectacle, it is put into motion, and hopefully the drama unfurls in front of its lens.

And that’s most 3D shots today: either we sit stationary and observe things whacked in our face, or we race like a roller-coaster through a fairly static scene. Rarely (leaving aside CGI) do we track or pan – well, would you want to track or pan a standard dual camera rig with all its micrometer adjustments for depth and ocular width whilst trying to match exposure and framing?

But it’s those little moments like being in a huddle (okay, ‘peloton’) of cyclists, or watching the trees swish by under your feet, or even observing a well presented dish of food when 3D could bring the whole thing to life far more than shallow depth of field.

I can see a whole timeline of 3D unfolding in front of us that will match the DV revolution we’ve all experienced, and the Shallow DoF DSLR revolution we’re currently going through. At the last Production Show, I didn’t really get 3D, but now that I’m trying to figure out shots and scenes that will be valuable in 15-20 years time, I think 3D will be sine qua non in the same way that 16:9 is now. Would you really want to buy a shot today in 4:3 captured in SD? Wouldn’t you rather it be in HD and 16:9?

So the next ‘trip of a lifetime’ shoot will have to be 3D. I will need two 550Ds, matching prime lenses, custom metalwork – it’s going to be expensive…

And that Panasonic handycam is going to be hot rental property.