Thursday, September 25, 2014

New Trailer For JUPITER ASCENDING - Now THIS Is More Like It !!

Finally a good glimpse at what the Wachowski's have in store for us in JUPITER ASCENDING because the first looks were not all that thrilling for me. With the release of this trailer however, I can foresee a much better future for the movie and even if they delayed the movie only to get the right marketing in place, I'm ok with that!

Further, the movie is being painstakingly converted to 3D by none other than Stereoscopic Supervisor Chris Parks (GRAVITY), who I just interviewed for our Fall Stereographer Series - be sure to check that out. So you can expect an amazing 3D experience. Legend3D is the conversion house. 

The scope of the movie is jaw-dropping and it looks like the VFX are up to the task. It's all got to be believable - the story will stretch our suspension of disbelief dramatically, but then again this is coming from the makers of THE MATRIX sooooo....

Here's the storyline for the movie:
From the streets of Chicago to the far-flung galaxies whirling through space, “Jupiter Ascending” tells the story of Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), who was born under a night sky, with signs predicting she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning other people’s houses and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along—her genetic signature marks her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.

JUPITER ASCENDING opens on February 6, 2015 in 3D, IMAX 3D and flat.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fall Stereographer Interview Series: GRAVITY's Chris Parks

Our Fall Stereographer Series this year continues from our Summer edition and has a great list of the world's best stereographers and technicians. Our goal is to enlighten you about the modern stereographer, his/her role in major tentpole productions, new technology and expert advice for the up and coming new generation of 3D creators. Be sure to check out all our interviews right here.

Next on tap for our series is stereographer and stereo supervisor Chris Parks (EDGE OF TOMORROW, JUPITER ASCENDING, JACK THE GIANT SLAYER, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END) who of course absolutely nailed the stereo in Alfonso Cuaron's GRAVITY and helped push the movie over the top for audiences around the world. I'm very excited to have the chance to learn something from him! GRAVITY is one of my favorite 3D movies of all time.

I know you're extremely busy Chris - thanks for taking time to be with me today. Let's get right into it - What is your favorite 3D movie and why?
Chris Parks: Anytime Jim, thanks for the opportunity. There are elements of several 3D films that I like although I don’t think any of them get it all right. Avatar was amazing for its time and has to take a lot of credit for getting 3D to where it is now. Pina shows how 3D can be used to really add value to a film. T.S.Spivet was very bold with its 3D and should be applauded for that. I am too close to Gravity to be objective but it did show how a film can be shot and edited in a way that enables the viewer to perceive the 3D fully and so allows the 3D to affect the audience in the way that was intended

Explain your thoughts on the native 3D vs. 3D conversion debate as it stands with today's technology?
CP: They are both very useful tools that together allow you to achieve creatively what is impossible with just one or the other. Native 3D will give you the best results, but only if you shoot the film in a way that is designed to achieve what you want to in 3D as well as 2D. If, as a director, you just want to shoot your film as you would if it was just going to be in 2D, then most of the time you would achieve a better end result by converting some or all of it. If you have a lot of VFX, then the results from converting those fully CG shots can be as good as rendering them in stereo.

The other thing that conversion allows you to do, is to distort space. When I am doing a conversion project, I am not trying to recreate what the scene would look like if it had been shot with a native rig. I am trying to create a native aesthetic but I am changing the spacial relationships, the volumes of characters and objects to give a better result than if they had been shot natively. A hybrid solution where the decision to go native or conversion on each shot or sequence is made from a creative standpoint rather than for logistical reasons would allow the stereographer to craft the most rewarding experience for the audience.

What do you make of the negative comments that Seamus McGarvey has made regarding 3D? 
CP: A lot of what Seamus says I can relate to, or I think are absolutely right. When he talks about not wanting the reality of 3D and liking the flatness of 2D I really understand that. Cinematographers and directors aren’t creating flat films when they work in 2D. They are creating films with depth and using all the 2D depth cues at their disposal to give their films depth. Then someone like me comes along and adds in this depth and it is messing with what they are doing anyway, just in a different way. 2D film is an amazing art and is limitless in its ways of expression and I love it for that. Where I differ with Seamus though is that I believe that 3D does have a value in film making, and not just as a gimmick. I do think it is possible to use 3D to help tell stories and as part of the art, rather than just as a layer on top of what would otherwise be a perfectly good 2D film. I think we are only just starting to find ways to use it properly and even in Gravity where I think we pushed that side of it further than has been done before, I think we were only just touching the tip of the iceberg.

Seamus also talks about 3D rigs being too slow and breaking the flow of film making. He mentions 45 minute lens changes and endless alignment problems. All of that can be addressed with good crews and the right equipment. If we have the necessary prep prior to the first day of principal, then my crew can change lenses in 3 minutes and I expect to be able to use 95% of shots without any alignment in post. Nobody would last a day if they were taking 45 minutes to change a lens. There was a time when that was the norm, and I know there are still some rigs where that is the case, but it is not workable on a feature set. Without a doubt though, 3D rigs are bigger than 2D rigs of equivalent quality and steadicam operating becomes a game of survival rather than the art that it is in 2D. I have worked with Peter Robertson a couple of times and however much we try to strip things back, it is impossible for him to do in 3D what he can in 2D.

A lot though depends on the project that you are working on. I think Anna Karenina would have been stunning in 3D and the medium could have been used to support the story, the cinematography and the design. Joe Wright has a way of shooting that allows the 3D to be used in very creative ways. I personally think that it could be used more effectively in a film like Anna Karenina than in a film such as Avengers – but then I love what 3D can add to intimacy and those human moments.

What brought you to 3D in the first place? (chance, study, interest, etc)
CP: I got interested in 3D as a kid when my dad was filming for Life on Earth. He had a binocular (stereo) microscope, and the subjects that I had seen before down ordinary microscopes and which looked confusing and drab in 2D, suddenly looked incredible in 3D. Their design, transparency and subtle details all became visible. Later, I studied design at The Royal College of Art in London and my main research area was into 3D. Off the back of that I was involved in publishing a series of 3D books for which I designed the book itself and did the majority of the photography. That lead to being involved in IMAX 3D and special venue films for 15 years before the current resurgence of 3D allowed me to explore what was possible in narrative film making.

What is your preferred set up on set? (camera, rig, lens, etc)
CP: It depends on the nature of the shoot. My favoured setup for large feature film shoots would be a 3ality TS-5 rig. Red Epics and Arri Alexas are both good cameras for 3D and then whatever lens is dictated by the cinematographer and the look that the director wants for the film. I love the look of anamorphics but they aren’t feasible for native stereo work. Well matched Cookes probably hit the sweet spot for me in terms of a look that is attractive but precise enough to match between the eyes in stereo. Matched Angenieux zooms are great for speed if the shoot lends itself to that way of shooting. For other uses the P&S Freestyle rig is wonderful for its simplicity and I still have a lot of affection for the Hines Rigs – a wonder to behold with two 15/70 IMAX cameras on board!

Are there any new stereoscopic technologies coming out in the field that has your interest?
CP: Good Autostereo TV’s will rejuvenate 3D TV and create a market for film makers to push 3D forwards. So far I haven’t seen any that are good enough though and we risk alienating audiences by releasing TV’s which give a poor 3D experience.

When working with optics do you find there is disparity between how long it takes to make a 2D lens change verses a modern 3D set up?
CP: If you are comparing primes, then yes. A 3D lens change will take approximately 3 minutes on average with a good rig setup and experienced crew. With a bit of thinking ahead though the time taken for lens changes can nearly always be lost in the time taken for lighting changes or camera moves. If you are happy to shoot with zooms however, there is no difference.

If you have worked with 3D conversions as a stereographer adviser on set, how are the general interactions with the cinematographer and director as opposed to a native 3D production?
CP: The big difference is that on set you are talking in very abstract terms when working in 2D. There is no way to show how doing something will affect the 3D. You can suggest that changing the camera position, or lens or lighting etc will give better 3D – but better for whom? Maybe what I as stereographer think will be better actually takes it further away from what the director wants, but with no way to view it the discussion becomes much less precise. I try to counter that with conversations and screenings prior to shooting – looking at a selection of 3D material and gauging what the director lights. From that I can get a feel for what would work to support the film that they are doing. I will then suggest an approach for the 3D and we will refine it as much or as little as they want to. From that point, if we are on set, I can say relate comments to what we have discussed and what I know they want - ‘If you want the feel that we talked about then you need to stay wider’ for example. They can then decide whether in this case they do want that feel, or whether going tighter actually gives them what they are looking for.

What would be your favorite shot for 3D and why?
CP: High speed always works – it gives the audience time to explore the subject.

Obviously 3D has matured since the late 2000's both in technology and expertise. What credentials / experience would you mention that helps separate you from the field and brings you to the top of the industry?
CP: I think that it is really important that anyone working on a production is working to help tell the story, rather than working to a preconceived agenda. It is easy as a stereographer to go into a project with an idea of what will make for good 3D but it is really important to remember that films are collaborative efforts and it doesn’t matter whether a certain decision will help the 3D, if it hinders the telling of the story then it is not good. There are 100 things a day that have to make you change what you were planning, but the important thing is to be flexible and come up with a different (and ideally better) way to achieve good 3D. I think that having respect for all the other disciplines on a production is a very good starting point!

What education would you recommend to up and coming stereographers / cinematographers in today's world?
CP: Stereographers need to have an understanding of how a camera department works. Start out as a runner or trainee. Get experience as a camera assistant. Understand the language of film. Understand the 2D grammar and language of film. Once you have that, you can then use that to strengthen what you do in 3D

Do you have a post-production software preference for working with the stereo images to do any fine tuning you need to do?
CP: They are all just tools. Having a good operator is the most important thing. I have worked via T-vips (a remote teleconferencing system that allows me to be in a cinema in the UK while the operator is in the US and we are both seeing the same things on our screens) with an operator who I have never met. I only know him as Chris. We have done depth grading sessions that have worked seamlessly despite us being 3000 miles apart. It doesn’t matter what software he is on (it happens to be base light), the important thing is the result. Having said that, if I was operating then I would choose the Mistika as I know it can do everything that I need of it.

How important is resolution? Would more pixels be more important for stereo 3D? Higher dynamic range? HFR?
CP: More resolution is good for bigger screens, and particularly IMAX where 2K and even 4K images don’t compare to the resolution we get from 15/70 prints. 3D anyway gives a greater perceived resolution which helps. Higher dynamic range is great for 3D – being able to see further into the shadows or highlights in 3D helps stop them flattening out. Anywhere in the image that we can hold details, however subtle, is valuable. HFR – I think the jury is still out. It definitely helps with the strobing which kills the image in 3D films. It can make action sequences much more watchable. However, having drama sequences looking like TV isn’t going to win it any friends. Maybe the answer is to have a variable framerate that can jump between 24 and 48 as James Cameron is rumoured to be doing on the next Avatar. Maybe it is more about how it is used or lit? Maybe we just need to learn how to use it better!

Thanks so much for your time on this Chris! I appreciate it tremendously.

Stay tuned for our next interview in the Fall Stereographer Series coming soon!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Will We Get The DEADPOOL We All Want?

As you probably know, it's official. DEADPOOL will be upon us on February 12, 2016. The question now is will it be authentic or a studio ravaged shell of what could have been?

I'm hearing rumors from a few sources that Fox is indeed leaning toward a PG-13 rating which is NOT in the best interest of the character and therefore the story. Vicious language is the single most in-your-face trait of the "Merc with a mouth", without which I'm about as excited to see it as I am a Wolverine movie without his claws. Fox needs to pay attention to this. I don't care what sort of gimmick you have up your sleeve to try and get away with it, I want AN AUTHENTIC CHARACTER. They're already screwed up his first screen appearance. I fully expect more.

The one saving grace? Kevin Feige is producing. He is Mr. Marvel and if anyone can enforce a proper character and build a suitable franchise it's him. But again, I don't want a compromise! I want DEADPOOL.

I've even heard someone say that if I liked the leaked test footage (see video below), then you will like a PG-13 full movie. Perhaps. But I want to LOVE the full movie and I won't with the un-fermented "likeable" version.

The more intrusive studio heads sticking their opinions into a beloved and quite likely bankable super hero, the more likely this will turn out to bomb.

Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool is perfect casting. I think they will get that right. But my opinion is DEADPOOL needs to be rated R for language and violence. If it isn't, look out for another box office albatross for Reynolds. RIPD and GREEN LANTERN are not a good indicator of his talent.

And for Pete's sake, shoot this thing in native 3D!

DEADPOOL is slated for a Feb 12, 2016 release.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Official Storyline For AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON Released!

Finally we get to officially hear about what we will eventually see in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON! And it sounds spectacular. Marvel just keeps getting bigger and better. Makes me wonder just how much impact a Marvel led SPIDER-MAN or X-MEN universe would be! Man I would love to have Spidey as an avenger. But I digress.

Here's the official storyline:
Marvel Studios presents “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” the epic follow-up to the biggest Super Hero movie of all time. When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, are put to the ultimate test as the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. As the villainous Ultron emerges, it is up to the Avengers to stop him from enacting his terrible plans, and soon uneasy alliances and unexpected action pave the way for an epic and unique global adventure.

Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” stars Robert Downey Jr., who returns as Iron Man, along with Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk. Together with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and with the additional support of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill, the team must reassemble to defeat James Spader as Ultron, a terrifying technological villain hell-bent on human extinction. Along the way, they confront two mysterious and powerful newcomers, Wanda Maximoff, played by Elizabeth Olsen, and Pietro Maximoff, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and meet an old friend in a new form when Paul Bettany becomes Vision. Written and directed by Joss Whedon and produced by Kevin Feige, Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series “The Avengers,” first published in 1963. Get set for an action-packed thrill ride when The Avengers return in Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron”.

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON opens on May 1, 2015.

Monday, September 15, 2014

THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES Banner Released In Higher Resolution

Click on Banner to Enlarge
The banner that was seen at the San Diego Comic Con has now been released in higher resolution and it is gorgeous. The banner shows the chronology of what takes place in the final chapter of THE HOBBIT's trilogy of movies starting with Smaug's rage on Laketown to the huge final battle sequences.

The best way to experience this banner is over at EW - click here to view it with a moveable virtual magnifying glass to blow up all the intricate details. Imagine these shots in beautiful native HFR 3D captured on Red Epics with 3ality Technica rigs! Can't wait.

Here is the movie's storyline:
THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES brings to an epic conclusion the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, Thorin Oakenshield and the Company of Dwarves. Having reclaimed their homeland from the Dragon Smaug, the Company has unwittingly unleashed a deadly force into the world. Enraged, Smaug rains his fiery wrath down upon the defenseless men, women and children of Lake-town.

Obsessed above all else with his reclaimed treasure, Thorin sacrifices friendship and honor to hoard it as Bilbo’s frantic attempts to make him see reason drive the Hobbit towards a desperate and dangerous choice. But there are even greater dangers ahead. Unseen by any but the Wizard Gandalf, the great enemy Sauron has sent forth legions of Orcs in a stealth attack upon the Lonely Mountain.

As darkness converges on their escalating conflict, the races of Dwarves, Elves and Men must decide – unite or be destroyed. Bilbo finds himself fighting for his life and the lives of his friends in the epic Battle of the Five Armies, as the future of Middle-earth hangs in the balance.

THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES opens on December 17 in 3D, HFR 3D, IMAX 3D and flat.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

New Pics Of Batmobile From BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE Reveals Much More!

A couple of new shots of the Batmobile have emerged from the set of BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE and they don't disappoint.

"Batwing" doors, a satisfying wedge design, and clearly rugged engineering makes it look like Batman is ready for WWIII. I guess you'd have to be ready if you were staring down Supes.

BvS features some big names and outside of Henry Cavill (Superman) and Ben Affleck (Batman), Gal Gadot is joining on as Wonder Woman, and supposedly Jason Mamoa (Aquaman) and Ray Fisher (Cyborg) are in there too. Mix in Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane and Holly Hunter and the movie has bank in more ways than one.

There's a lot riding on this movie for DC and Warner Bros. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is breaking "superhero origin" movie records and actually has already topped MAN OF STEEL domestically for that box office crown.

BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE opens on March 25, 2016, unless of course Marvel decides to open another movie then. ;-) JOKING! ...kinda...

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

3D Museum In The Works For Los Angeles!

An exciting new 3D museum is in the works for Los Angeles and I'm thrilled to announce the fundraising campaign for the initiative. Check out the link to the project at the bottom of the post and consider supporting the cause. A very worthwhile endeavor!

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 3, 2014 - Award winning 3-D filmmaker Eric Kurland has announced the launch of a new non-profit arts organization, 3-D SPACE: The Center For Stereoscopic Photography, Art, Cinema, and Education. 3-D SPACE will operate a museum, gallery, theater, library and classroom dedicated to both the preservation of the history of stereoscopic imaging, and the advancement of current and future 3-D arts and sciences.

“Thanks to recent advances in digital technologies, there is a renewed enthusiasm for 3-D content. From the record-breaking box office returns of 3-D movies such as TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY to the new public interest in virtual reality due to the upcoming Oculus Rift device, 3-D seems to be back in the spotlight,” says 3-D SPACE founder Eric Kurland. “But most people aren't aware that stereoscopic imaging has a very rich history that dates back to the 19th century. We want to create a center to celebrate the work of talented artists, photographers and filmmakers who have used the medium of 3-D as their creative tool, and to educate the public on the art and science of stereography, from it's analog beginnings in the 1830s to the immersive digital realms of the future.”

Kurland has over ten years experience in connecting the public to the 3-D community. “My work as President of the LA 3-D Club, the most active organization in the country for 3-D enthusiasts, as well as my professional stereoscopic credits (including 3-D Director for the Grammy nominated OK Go music video ALL IS NOT LOST, and Lead Stereographer for the Oscar nominated animated short MAGGIE SIMPSON IN THE LONGEST DAYCARE) puts me in a position to be able to bring all aspects of the 3-D spectrum together, from the fans, to the independent artists, to professionals working in the entertainment industry. I have assembled an expert advisory group that includes 3-D author, photographer and legendary guitarist for the rock band Queen, Dr. Brian May, Actor/Director Thomas Jane, and movie archivist and historian Bob Burns, among others.”

“Just as successful institutions such as the Paley Center for Media or the Cartoon Art Museum are respectively focused on television and radio, and comics and animation as areas of historical discussion and study, 3-D SPACE recognizes stereoscopy as an important part of our cultural heritage. Sadly, many of the photos, motion pictures and technical artifacts from the birth and development of 3-D are deteriorating and need to be preserved...and that takes skill, dedication and money.”

3-D SPACE has begun an internet-based fundraising campaign at to support the initial preservation of the more rare and fragile materials in its growing collection and to secure a building to house the museum and educational center. 3-D SPACE plans to open to the public in 2015.

I wish the project and Eric the best of luck in this exciting effort!

Monday, September 01, 2014

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Soars For Top Box Office Again!

Marvel's GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY took in another $16m this weekend for it's third non-consecutive, weekend box office crown. That makes $280m so far with $305m forecast domestically. Worldwide GOTG has taken $554m and counting.

I've seen this movie three times already, once with my daughter who I wanted to introduce to the brand as potentially her generation's STAR WARS. I feel the movie is that important.

Audiences shelled out $12m for TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES' second place showing - another 3D movie. I haven't seen this yet, but hope to in the coming weeks. It dropped 30% from last weekend and has accumulated a nice $162m thus far.

SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR has bottomed out already and has only a fraction of what the original made. I feel for Robert Rodriguez who I admire as a filmmaker.

Can GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY hold on again for a fourth first place victory? Stay tuned!

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