Thursday, October 03, 2013

TIS3DC 2013: Great Weekend! Toronto Is A World's Hotspot for On Set 3D Tech And Creative Talent

You all know Tim Buttner who is also a regular contributor on MarketSaw - he and I had an amazing time in Toronto last week at the Toronto International Stereoscopic 3D Convention!

The 2013 edition of the TIS3DC was packed full of surprises for me. I expected to see some familiar faces within the 3D world (and I know a LOT of faces in 3D) but probably not as many as I would see in Los Angeles for example.

I was right initially. It took awhile to acclimatize to the situation - but then it all happened remarkably fast. Conversations. Social drinks. Panels. Screenings. An amazing energy that only a large room full of like minded individuals can muster: A symbiosis of sorts. I quickly became friends with many, many industry professionals and a few really stood out.

I will be the first to admit it, I didn't know about this magnificent cluster of stereographers in Toronto. I don't just mean singular people, their teams are based here as well. And by magnificent I mean it. The stereographer behind HUGO, 47 RONIN and the soon to be released THE YOUNG AND PRODIGIOUS T.S. SPIVET was there: Demetri Portelli. The stereographer behind X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION and THE THREE MUSKETEERS was there: John Harper. The stereographer behind SILENT HILL: REVELATION 3D was there: Brent Robinson. And I could go on with more of the local talent but I think you get the picture.

Of course it makes sense in retrospect; Toronto is a major hub of tentpole productions and a very healthy portion of those are 3D. So yes, talent will grow here and I will vouch that it indeed has. These guys are at the top of their game.

Demetri Portelli and Ben Gervais
Take Demetri for example. He gave us a Master Class on how he tackles 3D projects and to underscore just how important his team is to him, he brought in his Camera Systems Engineer Ben Gervais (who I also had the pleasure of speaking with at length). The weekend was more than just an opportunity to see how they pull off a production though. We saw results too with Demetri's latest work THE YOUNG AND PRODIGIOUS T.S. SPIVET and had the added benefit of having master filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet there as well - larger than life - on the big screen via Skype. Let me tell you right now on record, the film is gorgeous. It rivals Scorsese's HUGO in that regard because this is a drama in 3D - and well of course Demetri was the Stereographer on that movie as well.

I think Jay Weissberg of Variety says it best on SPIVET: "Not since “Hugo” has three-dimensionality been used so inventively; unsurprisingly, the films share stereographers in the exceptionally talented Demetri Portelli, whose feel for pictorial planes is miraculous. Rather than seeming cheesy, each element thrown, swept or blown toward the camera induces smiles of surprise."

Yeah, so there's THAT. I haven't seen the whole movie yet but can't wait. What I did see dilated my pupils with excitement. That this level of achievement is arriving in a dramatic setting. I'm here to say as well that I think Demetri Portelli is the world's foremost Stereographer in the dramatic genre today. Yes Brian Gardner did very well with LIFE OF PI, but Portelli has HUGO and SPIVET under his belt now and has branched out into action as well.

Here's an excerpt from Jonathan Holland's review from THR: "...The viewer is bombarded by a jaw-dropping array of enjoyable 3D effects -- motes of prairie dust and scary stuffed animals are among them, but the most satisfying are those which spring from the character’s minds, such as T.S.’s device for dropping an egg without breaking. This has been imagined by both T.S. and by Jeunet with a precision which is then transferred unerringly to the screen by d.p. Thomas Hardmeier and stereographer Demetri Portelli (previously responsible for recreating another young boy’s imagination, that of Martin Scorsese’s Hugo). Larsen’s book is full of T.S.’s devices, designs sketches, and these too are reimagined there, lovingly given motion."

So yes, these guys are talented. World class. I will be speaking to each one of the stereographers listed (and more on other stereo platforms) in a series of interviews on how the standard of native 3D filmmaking is not only maturing - but bringing the whole of cinematography with it. At least ((Whole of cinematography) - (The Wally Pfisters of the world)) > 0. Much greater than zero.

Now about the Toronto International Stereoscopic 3D Conference in general. An amazing weekend organized, staffed and executed in a professional and efficient manner. My compliments to Christos Alex. Giotis, the 3D FLIC Project Director that headed up the events. Amazing job! His team was nothing short of stellar as well. I couldn't believe how networked and easy the screening of segments were. It was a breath of fresh air. The volunteers looked and acted like professionals!

Some great 3D companies represented here too - Adam May of Vision3, London (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES, JACK THE GIANT SLAYER) and I are planning an upcoming interview on the 3D scene in the UK. Robert Neuman, the Stereoscopic Department Head at Disney Animation Studios also spoke at the conference. I won't name all the companies that were represented but I hope this gives you a flavor of the conference.

The talent I touched upon above does not do the whole event justice. There were filmmakers here (April Mullen, director of DEAD BEFORE DAWN 3D and Eric Tessier, director of PEE WEE 3D were on my panel as well as financier Alex Farrell from RBC), James Stewart from Geneva Film Co. (They did FOXED! and the 3D mastering for CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS), Catherine Owens, Director of U2 3D - to this day still a benchmark for 3D concert movies. I loved her keynote and her message regarding education for the 3D industry fell on wide open ears. Read more about her recent 3DOO creative partnership here.

The sky is the limit for this conference, situated exactly where it is in one of the world's epicenters of Stereoscopic 3D.

For all of our TIS3DC coverage, click here. Can't wait for the next iteration!

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Jim Dorey
jim (at) marketsaw (dot) com

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