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.


REVIEW: Journey to the Center of BAD 3D

By | 3D, Movies, Reviews, Stereoscopic, Tech | One Comment

I was going to do a full review of this film.  Now, I can’t get myself to do that. This film was so monumentally bad, so devoid of anything redeemable, that it would be just unfair to all the good people who worked so hard on this movie.  Nobody sets out to make a bad film.  Everyone has great intentions and many compromises are made along the way.  Studios, directors, producers, all are fighting for creative control. I did not like the film and I cannot recommend it.  However the 3D fan boys are saying, “this is just a feel good fun ride, check your brain at the door.”

Not good enough. For years, comic book movies have been regulated to this thought process. Now in 2008 we have films like Iron Man, Hulk, Hellboy 2, and Dark Knight.  These films all show comic book films can be great films. There is no reason, that a film based on a great classic novel with a journey to the core of our planet, can’t be a great film that thrills, entertains, has great performances with solid acting and compelling characters. None at all, and shame on the people who think they had to re-invent a classic and didn’t trust this fantastic story. To Embrace this film just because its in 3D, is a disservice to the 3D movement. That’s a fan-boy mentality and it will not work here. This film fails as a story, fails at 3D, and fails to win me over. I love 3D, but I cannot accept this. Sure its making money at the box office, but imagine how much better it could do, if it was a better film.

Now we get to the 3D. This film was as I feared. The 3D in this film was GIMMICKY. No one wants to have their eyes poked at in real life. Its uncomfortable. No one wants this in there movies, its unbearable. Journey 3D does this no less than 22 times. Characters spit on you, jab you with a yo-yo, tape measures, pointy antennae, birds, and more spit. Ugh! The 3D also violates the frame in almost every single shot, and there is shallow depth of field that just do not work in 3D.


The use of the Cameron Pace Fusion cameras leaves me with little hope for Avatar. Both of Cameron’s 3D IMAX documentaries and now this have used The PACE cameras and the way they do 3D is headache inducing and un-natural. I experienced this first hand on Spy-Kids 3D which used the same camera. I fought hard in each composite to recompose the 3D space to feel natural on our shots. Now back to Journey 3D. I had to see this film at a Real D cinema and I love the fact that Real D seems to be catalyst for major changes in digital cinema. They are getting theaters to install Digital systems with 3D capabilities En Masse. Bravo! BUT can I ask Real D a favor? Can you fix your projectors brightness issues? When you have a film like Journey 3D in which half the film takes place in a dark cave, projection on one digital projector, polarizing the light, reflecting off the screen and going through another polarized filter (glasses on your head) You loose almost 80% of the light you started out with. In IMAX 3D, this isn’t an issue as you have TWO IMAX projectors and you get allot of light. In Real-D you get a very murky image. Double whammy if your film is dark to begin with.

The only way this film could get worse, is if they decide to release it in 3D anaglyph like the Hannah Montana disc. Oh my god, I feel an aneurysm coming on.


For a second opinion read this review here and here.

Watch this video about the director Eric Brevig, where he talks about how Journey wasn’t using 3D as a gimmick.

In this video, we see more information about the 3D process. Its disappointing to see Jim Cameron being involved here. It seems like they are getting allot of advice on how to do this right, they must have just ignored all of it.

Avatar 3D Game

By | 3D, Tech | No Comments

Not that this is a new thing, but this is the first time that a high profile game is being designed from the ground up with the idea of playing it in stereoscopic 3D. Any 3D (geometric 3D engine) game can be made to be stereoscopic 3D using Nvidia’s stereoscopic drivers and shutter glasses. Back in the early 90’s there were a few games that could be played in anaglyphic mode and paper glasses like Bullfrog’s Magic Carpet.

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot has said that Ubisoft will be making old-fashioned 3D games which require stereoscopic glasses, as well as well as moving on to create CGI films, books and a new TV series.

Speaking to at Ubidays 2008, Guillemot said that the Movie tie-in game of Avatar will be the companies first attempt at creating some stereoscopic gameplay, but that the game will require specific monitors in order to work.

“The deal is to build a 3D experience on top of the normal experience. Avatar will have both. It’s with glasses on a specific TV. I’ve seen it, it’s amazing,” Guillemot said.

“No. It doesn’t work on normal TVs. It means we will see an evolution on the TV. They are already in Best Buy in the US. You can already buy these TVs.”

The Ubisoft boss also said that he wanted the company to move towards making computer generated movies too and that although the first films would be produced externally, he would hope to change that in the future.

Guillemot then confirmed that this isn’t all he has planned for the French publisher either – the company is already working on a line of books and a small television series, though he wouldn’t go into further details.

TD Vision update

By | 3D, Tech | No Comments

TD Vision has some interesting tech. I’m really interested in where they are going with their 2D/3D codec and how this can bring about mass media production of 3D stereoscopic films for HD home video.

Link on Engadget Clicky

Apple to go 3D

By | 3D, Tech | No Comments


Apple Insider has uncovered some cool patents from Apple. They are planning on producing an auto stereoscopic monitor display for high end visualization applications. This could mean allot of things, but what it means to me is that Apple has the means and cool factor to bring a mass market product that could bring 3D more into the main stream than ever before. Now this is one possibility, but apple does produce high end software and products for the niche markets as well.

Link to the patent article on Apple insider


By | 3D, Tech | No Comments

enable3d.jpgNEC and Magnetic announced the creation of a new glasses free technology to display 3D content without any lose of resolution for 2D content. There are no details on what the system is doing, but if this is different than the lenticular based 3D screens found in other glasses free systems, this could be a huge boom to the 3D movement. I’m going to try to get more details on this system and add more as I find out.

Click here for the full story

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