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Thursday, 17 March 2011 23:22

Editing in 3D

Written by  Debra Kaufman
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Df-04531_SFWAt Oasis Imagery in Hollywood, Calif., Chief Visionary Officer Scot Barbour has created the setup for the offline and finishing of the Russian 3D film Napoleon. The editor chose Avid Media Composer Nitris DX as his tool, and Barbour reports that he has set two workstations up connected to a Unity.

“There are a few choices to editing 3D,” Barbour explains. “You can cut the project with [Apple] Final Cut Pro (FCP) or Avid. One method is to use the codec CineForm, which is a great workflow when the editor wants to take it home. But you start in CineForm, you have to finish in the CineForm Neo3D codec.” Barbour likes to set up the system so that in the Avid or FCP system monitor the editor has three views: the left eye, the right eye and the combined image. “In the editing application, instead of one picture, you have three pictures to choose from,” he says.

But Barbour is adamant that “you can’t make choices” on a stereo monitor. “If it’s theatrical, you have to see it in a theatrical screening environment,” he says. “Although, if it’s headed for broadcast, you could make choices on a smaller screen.” At Oasis Imagery, after editing the left eye, they conform it with the right eye and then watch the combined 3D image in the screening room. “That is where we look for the stereo storytelling,” says Barbour. “And we do a stereo-image correction pass, where we can correct anything that’s not working on our Autodesk Smoke. So we’re correcting stereo as we go.”

Just as manufacturers have flocked to provide color correction/DI tools for 3D projects, those who provide editing software tools have also made editing in 3D a priority. In addition to FCP and Avid, Sony Creative Software’s Vegas Pro 10 is a great option that works in conjunction with your PC. And while Quantel’s Pablo is a powerful tool for 3D DIs, it’s also useful to note that it offers a solid stereoscopic preview toolset.

For the recently released film The Green Hornet, Editor Michael Tronick, A.C.E. and First Assistant Editors Dylan Quirt and Aaron Brock used eight Avid Media Composer Version 3.59 systems running on a Unity, with one software-only station. “Editing in 3D was an anomaly for me,” says Tronick, who notes that the decision to convert The Green Hornet’s 2,200-plus shots into 3D was made in postproduction. Despite the movie’s 3D pedigree, the editing itself was fairly straightforward. “I edited in 2D to make the most effective movie in 2D,” says Tronick. “There was a very collaborative dynamic in the cutting room between Michael [and] Writers, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. There were many voices that needed to be coalesced into a single vision.”

Tronick and Quirt brought experience in editing 3D films to The Green Hornet, having worked together on two 3D concert films, Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert (2008) and Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience (2009). “In both films, there was 2D interstitial material that gave your eyes a chance to rest and made the 3D that much more powerful,” notes Quirt. For the Miley Cyrus film, Tronick adds that Disney wanted to give kids the sense of being on stage with their heroes. “We were judicious with how we used 3D moments,” notes Tronick, “but if there were a wide shot and Miley Cyrus was coming towards the camera and gesturing, we’d stay with it.”

For both concert films, Tronick and Quirt edited the 3D material with one eye — in other words, as if it were 2D footage. “There are always surprises,” says Tronick. “Sometimes the iris on one eye would go black, for example. But the guys at FotoKem were always able to fix it. There was no shot I couldn’t use because of a technical glitch.” Having this 3D editing experience was a boon to Tronick and Quirt when the decision was made to convert The Green Hornet to 3D. “The fact that we did have 3D experience was beneficial,” says Tronick. “The eye gets trained in terms of what to look for and there’s a visceral reaction when they’re not going right.”Cover_EditingIn3D_SFW

Concert films are a natural fit for 3D movies, and Editors Jay Cassidy, A.C.E., Avi Youabian and Jillian Twigger Moul are finishing up their edit for Justin Bieber: Never Say Never using 11 workstations of the Avid Media Composer version 4.5 Nitris DX on Unity, with over 20 terabytes of material stored. “The Avid makes it very seamless,” says Youabian, who cut all the film’s 3D concert films. “At the beginning, we saw this as a 3D movie with 2D elements that are flat images on the left and right eye. That was our way of looking at the 2D footage in a 3D world.”

When cutting the 3D concert footage, Youabian says he cut in 2D and then switched to 3D mode to watch what he’d done and make whatever tweaks were needed. “I couldn’t sit with 3D glasses all the time,” he says. “It wouldn’t add that much to the process and it would be exhausting. If you’re concentrating on story, it doesn’t matter how far in or out the element is.” When Cassidy joined the team to put the entire film together, all the 3D editing was almost complete — but they still had to put 2D and 3D footage together. Youabian reports that, early in the process, they did tests to cross-cut 2D and 3D footage to make sure it would work. “The cross-cutting never bothered me,” he says. “It played back fine; 90 percent of the editing was in 2D. We knew what the concert songs would look like. It was easier and faster to cut in 2D, and then we’d play back sections in 3D. But we never looked at the whole thing in 3D until very late in the process.”

Now, as manufacturers release prosumer 3D cameras, an increasing number of corporate/industrial projects are gravitating to the 3D format. No one knows that better than Matthew Brohn, product manager for Sony Creative Software’s video products, including Vegas. “Vegas offers the ability to bring two streams into editing and work with the media,” explains Brohn. “Vegas can also help the shooter, with Stereoscopic 3D Adjust tool. Beyond offering tools to fix common camera problems, such as misaligned vertical/horizontal offset, zooming and keystoning, this tool can auto-correct most footage; a unique feature in an any NLE.” Otherwise, editing 3D in Vegas is quite similar to editing in 2D. “The only thing you need to be aware of is when you render files out to know where it’s going downstream,” he says. “Because when you render to a final destination they might need to have the media delivered in one of many different format choices, such as side-by-side, top bottom, anaglyphic, line alternate to name a few — all of which Vegas Pro supports, but there are no other tools necessary.”

Corporate productions and even independent films are using Vegas, reports Brohn, although there are no current projects he can reveal. But it seems likely that in the not-so-distant future, the 3D production — and thus the 3D edit — will become commonplace. “Beyond the dizzying array of professional options available, a lot of consumer cameras are coming out that will support 3D, so there’s a level of consumer acceptance,” says Brohn. “Our goal is to make 3D editing as easy as 2D.”

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