Green Screen Fun

By | Animation, VFX | No Comments

I put this one together as a demonstration of integration into live action footage.  The assignment was to integrate yourself into a feature film.  I chose the LEGO movie and decided to taunt the man upstairs.  Too fun.

Daft Punk Tron Video

By | 3D, Animation, Movies, Stereoscopic, VFX | No Comments

This is the official Daft Punk “Derezzed” music video from Tron Legacy. Whats amazing about this video is the retro look of the Tron universe. It feels like it could had been film back in the 80’s yet has a bit cleaner more polished look. I really love how they were able to hold onto the art direction and style from the original film., yet bring some new elements to it. Truly epic. I cannot wait to see the film. I will have a full movie review and 3D review of it next week after I see the film a dozen times. 🙂

Zombies in 3D

By | 3D, Animation, Site News, Stereoscopic, VFX | 3 Comments

ZombieMan what a busy week. I just finished up my last class and we produced a 6 minute 3D stereoscopic ride film called “Zombie Aparkalypse” Yes that’s an intentional misspelling. Notice the word PARK in apocalypse. Its a five minute continuous camera move through a theme park over run with zombie hordes. Its funny and twisted and a lot of fun. I will be posting a 3D + 2D version on Vimeo this week and will update here.

The best part was Stereo-D the 3D stereoscopic conversion company and its CEO Arron Parry and co-owner actor Giovanni Ribisi were on hand to interview our class, and offered 18 of them jobs working on the stereoscopic versions of “The Avengers” and “Thor” Way to go guys! I’m very proud of my September 2010 class!


The Solo Adventures 3D

By | 3D, Animation, Funny, Movies, Stereoscopic, VFX | No Comments

I am overwhelmed by the support and praise that has been coming at me for my first Directorial effort, “The Solo Adventures”  This film has won the hearts of Star Wars fans all over the world. To date, over a half million people have seen this film. With almost 99% praise and positive views. Its even been shown on G4tv’s Attack of the Show and the host called it, “the greatest Star Wars fan film ever made”

Check it out if you haven’t seen it yet:

Review: Monsters Vs Aliens

By | Animation, Movies, Reviews, Stereoscopic | No Comments

Well, I know this film has been out for some time, But I did not see it until this past weekend.  We went to the Regal Quaker Crossing 18 in Orchard Park NY. This theater has recently upgraded its capabilities to to RealD and digital projection.  The theater was decent size and we sat about midway from the screen about 40 feet.  The screen was new and had some wrinkles in it that were a bit distracting to the purity of the picture. The amount of light being reflected from the screen was very good.  This was a lot brighter venue than most RealD theaters. I detected about a 20 % gain in brightness, which provided for a greater theatrical experience.

postermonstersvsaliens_lg-749020Now on to the movie.   Monsters Vs Aliens was a lot of fun to watch. The film was entertaining and lighthearted.  Its not going to win any Oscars, but it was very fast paced, had some funny jokes, and did not sing at me.   It was not as strong as Dreamworks last film, Kung-Fu Panda, but  this was a very solid entry into the kid friendly animated landscape.  I was a bit disappointed that a film about monsters  only featured 5 “monsters.”  There should had been more secondary characters.  In the film there is a huge secret facility. Its massive. You can see down tunnels and holding ares that look like they are going for miles, and yet its holding just 5 creatures.

bob3dNow on to the 3D.  A lot has been said already about this film and how its the first time a movie has been made in “Tru 3D”  Dreamworks created all sorts of new tech to control the depth and film in virtual 3D spaces as the animation played back in real time.   The 3D stereo  moments and the film overall was very well done.  Your eyes will be overjoyed with the underused eye poking and very careful control of the screen plane.  I was really impressed on how well and consistently the Dreamworks team kept the visual depth going without  berating the viewer’s eyes with gimmicks. I was really impressed how well the character Bob held up in 3D.  Shiny objects with lots of reflection refraction and transparency tend to fall apart in 3D because of how each eye see a different highlight.

linkroach3dHowever, Monsters Vs Aliens was not without its problems.   First of all,  the sequence in which Susan was running through San Francisco as Ginormica.  The whole sense of scale was way off. She did not look giant at all. She looked like she was normal sized, and she was walking though a miniature set.  The Dreamworks crew was trying to get a sense of scale here, but they set it up so that Ginormica looked nice, but this gave too much perspective parallax to the buildings and gave them a sense that they were not massive.   By contrast when Susan starts to grow  and breaks though the church at the beginning of the film, this was a great example of scale.   She feels huge.

Now Dreamworks plans on releasing all future films in 3D, or what they call Tru 3D.   I hope that they will take 3D a bit more seriously in the “Design” of a film.  Its great to see “MvA” in 3D, but it really wasn’t designed to use 3D, it was designed to be shown in 3D.  The key difference is how did the film embrace the medium and integrate it into its story telling?  “Coraline” was a great example where the 3D helped to differentiate the real world with the fantasy world.  In “Coraline,” the drab real world was flatter and the world of the witch  was brighter and deeper in 3D. It was made to augment the story. Same with the “Polar Express.”  The 3D version of that film is better because the 3D helped to make it feel more dreamlike.  I suspect that Jim Cameron’s “Avatar” will do the same, due to what I have read about the film taking you into a new planet and otherly world environments though the main character’s avatars.   This is what was lacking in Monsters, the feeling that the 3D was apart of this world.  Maybe they could have made Susan’s regular life feel flatter and once she gained super powers it becomes deeper.  Or more depth in the aliens ship. Etc

I really enjoyed Monsters Vs Aliens.  Dreamworks has really stepped up and created a great 3D film.  I hope they will embrace some of the home 3D options and release this film in a true 3D Blu-Ray format.  I am so tired of 3D films only getting released in anaglyph for home.

Press is good, 3D press is better.

By | 3D, Animation, Site News, Stereoscopic, Tech, VFX | 3 Comments

I’ve been getting allot of positive feedback and press on my article on the evaluation of “Fly Me to the Moon”.   From my fellow blogger Sean Gleeson here: Swell3d, getting the attention of a NPR writer,  to a 3D newsletter publication from this article has made an impact around the 3D community and it continues to spread. Thanks for all the positive press out there. What I was trying to do with that article is show how “FMTTM” didn’t have to be made that way.  You can do some simple things to vastly improve your 3D.  I got a few negative feedbacks too.  They are in the comments section. While I do not agree, its great to have a healthy debate, so keep the comments coming!

In other 3D news, I have been a beta tester for the Foundry’s newest 3D stereoscopic plug-in called Ocula.  I can’t say too much about it yet, but there will be a training course in its use over at   This plug-in  blows me away. It will redefine the work flow for stereoscopic effects work. Mark my words. FX guide has a nice whitepaper about its work flow, check it out here: Ocula Whitepaper

AutoDesk will be releasing Maya 2009 in October.  The biggest news here is Maya 2009 will be able to display 3D view ports right inside of openGL.  Now I have had some melscripts that let me do this for years (mainly using cross eye method)  but now you can see anaglyphic, checkerboard, and interlaced methods as you work. You can now model, animate, texture, playblast in stereo.  Kudos to Autodesk for implementing this feature. Check out the movie here.  Stereo Maya


Fly me to the Moon: A 3D evaluation

By | 3D, Animation, Cameras, Movies, Reviews, Stereoscopic, Tech, VFX | 12 Comments

This is not a review. If you want a review of this film then read Rotten Tomatoes. I think the whopping 17% is a good barometer for where this film stands. Just because its 3D is NO EXCUSE for bad story telling. If I was to hold it by its technical accomplishments I’d personally rate it much lower, and here is why…

I am going to show you some examples of the bad 3D I saw in the film, and how it could have been corrected easily in the composite. I got all the source anaglyphic images from the sites official website here. The originals are really this bad. You may say “thats not too bad,” maybe for a few seconds on a monitor. Maybe in small doses. This is a major film release by nWave, one of my favorite production companies for stereo 3D films. When FMTTM is projected on a large screen at a theater, or worse at IMAX, and multiplied across many shots for 89 minutes, the 3D cannot compete with our brains comfortably. This produces headaches, motion sickness, and nausea.

Example #1

12The first example of this is here. This family of maggots (who doesn’t want to cuddle on of these) is sleeping on the bed. Examining the anaglyph to the right, we can see a very large amount of horizontal parallax. This much parallax will push the image out into positive Z space or depth. The edges of the bed break frame and vibrate spatially as our brains try to resolve the screen plane conflict. I do not detect any vertical parallax, or toe-in keystone distortion. Over all the shot has decent composition, it just lacks a cohesive 3D inter-ocular that would be correct for this type of shot. Now put on your red/cyan glasses and check this out!

12_fixedI have taken the first image into Adobe Photoshop and simply slid the red channel over about 20 pixels to the left to rest the correct screen plane for this image. I then cropped the image to clip off any missing channel information. Note that now, 90% or more of the image is behind the screen, creating a window into a 3D world. The definition on the characters is much more dimensional, it reads much better, and the edges of the image are no longer fighting your eyes/brain to resolve the breaking frame conflict. Ghosting has been minimized without the use of further color correction or manipulation.

Example #2

9The moon shot seen here is fairly decent, but it lacks a few things important considerations. For one there is no z depth beyond the screen plane. Evey thing exists in positive depth space and breaks the frame. Note how the sign they are sitting on and the leaves at the side of frame fight for ocular dominance. The moon looks flat and should at least be slightly tucked into the screen. Objects seen at great distances should have a parallax of 65 mm at its furthest point on the projected screen. This is your eyes in a parallel configuration. To have no parallax is to say the moon is at the screen plane and everything else in the foreground is popping off into the audience. This is wrong.

9_fixedAgain, I used Photoshop to slide the red channel. You can see the color fringing on the moon setting it back behind the screen. In fact because everything was in positive space, this slight shift sent everything back into the screen, making it much more pleasant to view. If I access to the full layers, I would had made more individual adjustments here to keep the depth a bit more dynamic, but you must be careful, objects seen at infinity will ALWAYS BE 65mm SEPARATION ON THE SCREEN. No matter if its the moon or a tree 100 yards from the viewer. Human depth perception falls off after 100 feet or so. Other depth cues like size, color and atmosphere are what gives it depth at that distances not parallax.

Example #3

6This image represent the very worst that FMTTM has to offer. This frame is a complete mess. We are almost exclusively off into positive depth space, every element is breaking frame, and worst of all, the cameras are toed in so much that its creating keystoning which invites vertical parallax. With a wide shot like this its imperative to keep things from not breaking frame. Let the viewer soak in all the great details. An Apollo capsule like this with all its details would had made such a great 3D shot. Its totally ruined by the volatile stereo. This shot is so harsh, that its difficult to view for more than a few seconds. your brain will fight and fight to resolve the discrepancies but this can only produce severe eyestrain.

6_fixedI had a real hard time fixing this shot. Due to the large amount of keystoning and toe-in adjusting this was a battle with many competing factors. Too make the foreground comfortable, the background got pushed beyond what I would call a safe zone for far or negative screen parallax as I talked about in example #2. This also exacerbated the vertical mismatching on the rear window. Now this brings me to the biggest issue here, and I have a new image for that…

rgb_issuesOn you right you’ll see a breakdown of the three color channels that makeup the original anaglyph. The red channel is from the left eye, and green and blue are from the right. Now there are allot of artifacts and strange rendering issues in the left eye. There are shadows on the astronaut closet to camera that are only in one eye. There are strange artifacts all over the set in that same eye. It almost looks to me that they used some sort of optical flow with a z-buffer to construct the left eye? I am not sure, but that pipe screen left over the middle astronaut looks very mangled in the red channel. These kinds of issues can’t be fixed in post, and should had been re-rendered, and addressed at the layout level. This shot looked bad in the trailer, on the website, and in the finished film. Someone should had caught this.

Example #4

1For my last example I present to you a perfect shot of why depth of field should never be used in stereo 3D. I can’t even attempt to fix this, so I am just going to let you see the original image, un-retouched. Whats good about it? Well the idea is good. Bugs are floating in positive depth space, and there parallax is appropriate for this effect. Now the background has two big issues.  One is its a flat 2D image with ZERO depth. This may work in 2D but it does not in 3D. At the very least this should had been in stereo and out of focus, at least then I could only complain about the depth of field.

Ok, now here’s the fun part. Go ahead and click on that image, look at it full size with your glasses. stare at it for at least a minute. Its bothersome isn’t it? I’m going to tell you why. Your brain and eyes wander through the image focusing at different depths. This is what we do naturally every day. and our focus darts around. If you present a 3D image to the brain your tricking us into a false reality, it looks real, you see depth, your senses are on high. If you don’t allow the brain to focus on the background like in this image, you have a big problem. In 2D you can trick the brain because its 2D, on a sub consciences level, the flattening allows filmic techniques like this to be powerful tricks in the cinematic language. In 3D its not the case. DOF (depth of field) does not work. It should never be used in this way for a 3D film. “But” you say… “I want to direct the viewer focus to here.” Well then, you need to find another way, like have something coming to the screen talking or demanding that you look at it. In an image such as the one above, your eyes will focus on the bugs, and the background will go blurry, just like real life when you focus on something right in front of you, and when your gaze drifts to the back, the foreground will drift into blur. Your eyes and brain will create rack focus for you as you gaze through the imagery, and it will be a joy to behold.  Now, I will concede that a well done image can use some DOF. This opinion is not absolute.  If you do use it, it must be well done and not over used or it all falls apart.

To conclude, I have great respect for nWave and all the artists who worked on this film. I own many of their films and I will buy this one when it comes to HQFS DVD. Getting a film done is such a huge task. I am a very critical person when it comes to 3D. I want it to grow and flourish, but it has to live by the rules of human factors and optical considerations. Digital 3D is just that Digital. Its made 3D more accessible, but it still has to be done with care and consideration to the viewer. I had great hopes for this film. I am deeply disappointed in its lackluster showcase of what great 3D can do.


The Uncanny Valley

By | 3D, Animation, Uncategorized, VFX | 3 Comments

This clip from 30 Rock is great. It simply describes the phenomenon of the Uncanny Valley. This is why going for realism in CG is very difficult. The closer you are to real, the more you plummet in to the valley of repulsion. Even if you nail something as looking 100% perfect human reality. There is a lack of emotion and a connection to the real that the effect lacks, and thus we feel as there’s something not there. Even in the best moments of photo real CG like in Beowulf or Final Fantasy, it was still uncomfortable and unnerving.

WanderLust 3D

By | 3D, Animation | One Comment

bjorkBjork is at it again. Wanderlust, the Icelandic’s singer’s newest photoplay is avaialble from Wired. They have the full video on its website in a whopping 188 mb file. It has to be that large to allow for the best color fidelity for anaglyph presentation. This video evokes Miyazaki influences and odd organic textures. Truly the only way to view this is in 3D. I wish they opted for a side by side version. 🙁

So click on the pic and go check it out! You will have to have your trusty red/cyan glasses.

Life as a VFX Artist

By | Animation, Funny | One Comment

This is not funny. It hits too close to home to be funny. Yet, I find myself smirking with satisfaction and maybe a hint of humor in watching this because, its happening to other people, besides me. Its so true. I’ve been there, i even recognize the place this was made, Digital Domain, and its famous shanty town of cubicles made from plywood. Its sad. Very sad. Ive been in this situation too many times, and its now time to turn the page.

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