The most recent, talked-about commercials have got to be the 3-D ads seen during February’s Super Bowl XLIII. But for independent editors and producers working on a budget, those paeans to Monsters vs. Aliens and the SoBe Life Water lizards have lessons that go far beyond plugging the gaps between football plays –– the two spots were shown using a new process called ColorCode 3-D.
Despite requiring the use of two-color glasses, ColorCode 3-D isn’t an anaglyph system like the old red/blue specs of the ’50s –– the left/amber filter conveys the color information while the right/blue filter provides depth. These elements combine to create an illusion of 3-D in your mind.
ColorCode 3-D inventor and CEO Svend B. Sorensen admits that the process isn’t as robust as the true stereoscopic systems, such as the RealD or Dolby 3D Digital currently used in theaters, but he points out that since ColorCode 3-D only requires a single on-screen image, it’s a far less-expensive system that can be used in many more installations than those requiring polarized or LCD shutter glasses. “ColorCode 3-D will fill the gap until we get autostereoscopic (no glasses) systems that are acceptable,” Sorensen says. “It also lets people establish 3-D presentations for venues that could not afford the more expensive systems.”
For that reason alone you should learn more about the ColorCode 3-D system on the company’s website at http://www.colorcode3d.com. You can also evaluate how well it works if you still have your Super Bowl glasses.
A second series of tips comes from Alex Hagon, the editor who cut the SoBe Life Water ad. Hagon used an Avid Media Composer on a laptop while on the set at Digital Domain in Venice, Calif., and on his workstation at the post facility Final Cut USA in New York. “We tried to go for the maximum 3-D effect we could get,” Hagon tells me. “But you have to be careful not to violate the edges of the screen. If figures that are to appear in front of the screen move off the sides laterally, you can break the 3-D illusion.”
You also have to vary your pacing when working in “Z-Space.” “If you cut too quickly, the viewers’ eyes will have to constantly shift convergence, and this can be distracting,” Hagon explains. “That is why it is very important to judge your edited sequences using some sort of 3-D display. You can’t just trust your 2-D instincts.”
Hagon gave me a very interesting suggestion for training the eye to properly perceive 3-D. He actually picked this up from his friend Luke Cresswell, who is directing the IMAX film Wild Ocean 3D. The idea is called “freeviewing,” which can train your eyes to get a 3-D effect from stereographic images, even without the special glasses. It’s kind of like the Single Image Random Dot Stereogram (SIRDS) or “Magic Eye” imaging that was popular a decade ago.
You can learn more about how to freeview at http://www.angelfire.com/ca/erker/freeview.html. But I offer a word of warning about editor’s eyestrain: if you end up like one of those cross-eyed victims of the Opti-Grab invented by Navin R. Johnson in Steve Martin’s 1979 movie The Jerk, please don’t blame me.