Monday, November 03, 2014

Fall Stereographer Interview Series - STALINGRAD's Céline Tricart

Our Fall Stereographer Series continues 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 up is a fast-rising, behind the camera star in the 3D world, Céline Tricart. She's multi-talented as she is also a writer, director and producer - but I want to focus on her 3D passion. She is an independent filmmaker and was stereographer on Gordon Chan's THE FOUR 2 (2013), DERRIERE LES MURS (French supernatural thriller) and the short film OUTSIPLOU. Further testifying to her talents is the trust that large budget productions place on her as well - she was 3D Rig Technician for both Fedor Bondarchuk's STALINGRAD and Michael Bay's TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION.

She has already directed several shorts, three of which were shot in 3D, and received many awards around the world. Since 2008 when she graduated from the famous ENS Louis Lumiere film school in Paris, she was the stereographer of more than 20 live broadcast, commercials and documentaries, and of the first French 3D feature film BEHIND THE WALLS from directors J. Lacombe and P. Sid (Sombrero Productions- 2010). She has worked with the R and D department of the french company Binocle (3D rigs and softwares) during 4 years as lead stereographer. Further, Céline has published a book about 3D storytelling in early 2013 which is available worldwide. She works now closely with the award-winning company 3ALITY Technica on numerous projects.

Celine is now developing her first feature film with award winning producer, Roger Frappier (“Jesus of Montreal”, “The Decline of the American Empire”, “The Grand Seduction”) and his Canadian production company, MAX FILMS. This film will of course be shot in 3D! Celine is also looking into TV as a fascinating new medium to tell her compelling stories. Her new book “Directing 3D: Concepts and Techniques for Stereoscopic Filmmakers” will be published by Focal Press in 2015 worldwide.

I think Céline represents one of the best of the best for up and coming stereographers in the world. Let's get to know her opinion on the Stereographer Series questions!

Hi Céline, I really want to thank you for taking the time to chat with me today! Could you tell me what's your favorite 3D movie and why?
Céline Tricart: My pleasure Jim. Gravity of course! 3D is the perfect way to tell this particular story, the tension relies on distances, depths, space! It's also technically very well done but to me it's first and foremost a good story and a director who wanted to use stereoscopy to enhance his storytelling.

Explain your thoughts on the native 3D vs. 3D conversion debate as it stands with today's technology?
CT: The real debate is elsewhere. I don't care if it's native 3D or conversion, if the 3D is considered as a filmmaking tool and used properly in accordance to the story, then I'm in. I believe in the future of hybrid movies, part of it being shot natively, part of it converted depending on what's easier / has a better quality / is cheaper. I generally prefer native 3D because it means having 3D monitors on set and that gives the creative crew the opportunity to learn this new medium and use it in a better way.

Right. Real-time feedback to the creatives. What do you make of the negative comments that Seamus McGarvey has made regarding 3D?
CT: Clearly this interview is dated. He talks about lenses changes that takes 45min while today it's between 3 and 4 minutes with a good 3D rig and an efficient 3D crew. It's funny he doesn't even remember the exact name of the rig he used. I guess the DP who used the first HD cameras in the 90's probably had the same point of view... But it would have been unfair to use these reviews to judge the HD cameras of the years 2000. It's also funny he said they had a stereographer on set on Avengers who was a pain in the ass... Avengers is, still today, one of the best 3D-converted movies, to me it means it was definitely worth it! People don't like to change, that's why most DPs hate digital compared to film, and 3D compared to 2D. I don't mind! As far as I'm concerned, I'm always on the lookout for new ways of telling compelling stories. Intellectual curiosity and need for experimentation is the best human quality I think.

Speaking of change, how to you position China now on the world cinema stage now that they have ~20,000 3D screens in place and growing?
CT: Definitely the biggest player out there for 3D box office. Most of the tentpoles now integrate Chinese locations and famous local stars. And the Chinese audience loves 3D! They're not stupid though, and if the studios keep sending them bad 3D conversions we'll get bored and upset. I hope they won't kill the golden goose...

What brought you to 3D in the first place? (chance, study, interest, etc)
CT: Chance! I feel really lucky to know a bit about 3D and have this amazing additional tool as a director! It was 2006, I was in film school in Paris and the french 3D club organized a screening in our projection room. It was basically a bunch of retired guys, building 3D rigs in their garage but they said something that changed my life: they said 3D was ready technically (well, almost!) and now what was desperately needed was writers, directors, artists to transform it into an art form. It blew my mind! I decided to write my end-of study essay about 3D storytelling and I directed a 6-minutes short film in 3D. It was very empowering to feel like a pioneer, to reinvent all the filmmaking rules and create a new language for this technology.

What is your preferred set up on set? (camera, rig, lens, etc)
CT: Technology is changing very fast... If I had to shoot a feature tomorrow I would probably choose Red Epics with 15-40 Optimo and a TS5 3ality Technica rig. With this configuration I know I can shoot as fast as in 2D and do steadycam, handheld...

Are there any new stereoscopic technologies coming out in the field that has your interest?
CT: I'm really interested in VR and shooting a fiction in 360 degrees 3D ! I can almost hear people complaining about it: "What's the point of not having a point of view decided by the director? What if the audience is not looking at the main character? Film was so much better..." VR is a new challenge, we'll have to figure out what storytelling in VR means... I'm very excited about it !

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?
CT: Of course, you have to change 2 lenses instead of one and to redo the 3D alignment... With a decent crew and a modern 3D rig it shouldn't take more than 3 or 4 minutes though.

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?
CT: I've worked as an on-set stereographer for a Chinese movie that was shot in 2D and later converted. I had a blast! The Chinese / Hong Kong crew has eager to learn and "think in 3D" despite the fact they were shooting with a 2D Arri alexa like they usually do. I trained the DP and director as much as I could, and stayed on set for two weeks. The first few days I had to intervene a lot, mostly about the framing (get rid of blurry foregrounds, over the shoulder etc.) and the depth of field. After a week I didn't have to say anything anymore. They got it right away, embraced it and had a lot of fun with it!

What would be your favorite shot for 3D and why?
CT: Long steadycam POV shot I guess... Works really well and 3D makes sense as we see in 3D in real life.

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?
CT: I don't think I'm at the top of the industry! I'm still learning, and enjoying it a lot! My ultimate goal is to direct a 3D feature film, hopefully soon... Then I'll be able to use this credential and pretend I'm at the top in the industry !

Many would agree with me that you should be mentioned in the best of the best. Speaking of learning, what education would you recommend to up and coming stereographers / cinematographers in today's world?
CT: I'm not very familiar with US film schools, but I think the best education is to watch as many 3D movies as possible, take notes of what you liked / disliked, and then watch the movie again without the 3D glasses so you can identify the type of 3D settings or shots that works best. And do some tests, experiments! It's very easy to build a cheap 3D camera or to buy some of the prosumer ones out there.

Do you have a post-production software preference for working with the stereo images to do any fine tuning you need to do?
CT: Not really, the software changes and gets better every year.

How important is resolution? Would more pixels be more important for stereo 3D? Higher dynamic range? HFR?
CT: None of these are "necessary" for 3D. It's a matter of storytelling, again. Is the story demanding a higher resolution? HFR? HDR? Maybe no, maybe yes! I like the HFR technology but to be honest I didn't really like it in "The Hobbit". It's a fantasy film, taking place in an imaginary and magic world, I don't think the realistic effect of the HFR is suitable for this type of story.

Are there any specialty filters that you find enhance the stereo images? How about specialty filters that you have found should never be used?
CT: Whatever filter the DP wants to use, we can make it work. Sometimes it's tricky because it means ordering a filter big enough to cover the entire mirror box of a 3D rig. Some specialty filters can create different effects on each lenses and therefore retinal rivalry. That's why I believe in hybrid filmmaking: Is a particular scene requires a specialty filter and the director doesn't want to add it in post, then why not shooting this scene in 2D and convert it in 3D in post ?

Split focus diopters are a popular tool in 2D. Do you think a director looking for an effect like that can get that in stereo 3D?
CT: I've never try to do it in native 3D but it's probably worth trying, especially because we love wide depth of field in 3D! If it's technically too challenging, then again this shot can be converted in post. Anything is possible!

Open mic: What is the biggest challenge that you'd like to openly discuss about today's 3D?
CT: Same thing as 2, 3, 4 years ago: We have to get rid of the ticket upcharge for 3D! Do we pay an upcharge to see a movie in cinemascope? In color? In surround sound? If seeing a movie in 3D cost as much as a 2D movie, it will encourage independent filmmakers and smaller budget to shoot in 3D because they'll know their audience will go and see it.

Open mic: What are you happiest about in the 3D field?
CT: The technology and 3D rigs have never been better, and the best 3D movies I've ever seen has been released in the last 3 years. It's very encouraging to see talented directors getting interested in this new language! Hopefully the new generation will have the same open mind.

If there was one thing you could change about the industry what would it be?
CT: No upcharge for 3D movies!

Thanks so much for your time on this Céline! Congratulations on TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION being the number one box office movie around the world thus far for 2014! Almost $1.1 billion. And... I loved the 3D. Looking forward to seeing more of your stereo work soon Céline!

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

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Jim Dorey
jim (at) marketsaw (dot) com

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