|Bob Whitehill in 2011. Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar|
On Monday morning, I had the pleasure of attending an early press screening of Finding Nemo 3D and Partysaurus Rex. As I tweeted afterwards, both look incredible in 3-D. My full review will be up around opening day, September 14.
Until then, here's a brief Q&A I did via email earlier this week with Pixar stereoscopic supervisor Bob Whitehill. He's been in charge of bringing Pixar films into the third dimension since Up.
How is the stereoscopic process different on a catalogue title than a new release like Brave or Monsters University?
The first thing we have to do on a catalog title is to resurrect it so we can re-render in a current version of our software. It's a process we call "digital archeology" and can be quite challenging depending on how old a film is. Simply opening a text file from ten years ago can sometimes be tough—imagine re-opening the complicated files that comprise Finding Nemo.
But once we complete that process, setting the 3D cameras and making decisions about how the shots will look their best in 3D, is similar to what we do on current shows.
Are you/your team more cautious than others when it comes to applying 3-D to a film? (I ask because I prefer a more pronounced 3-D effect.)That's a fair assessment. Our theory of 3D is similar to what James Cameron does, which is to keep the point of interest in a shot (wherever the audience is looking) relatively close to the screen in 3D depth.
We've found that to our taste bringing characters or objects dramatically off screen works well in short bursts but we are not interested in creating that effect throughout the film. We view 3D as akin to score or other filmmaking tools to create an overall experience. Score, 3D, set design—all should be used in our view in service of the story not to draw consistent attention to themselves.
That said, our films have grown in their use of 3D depth and I hope you'll find Nemo and our upcoming films every bit as rewarding as our competitors while still maintaining graceful companionship with the story.
How long did the conversion of Nemo take?The digital archeology process I mentioned earlier took about 9 months and the re-rendering also took about 9 months. But the reward is so worth it. Imagine trying to re-film a live-action movie 10 years later. Reassembling the sets, getting the actors to look exactly the same, the lighting to match identically—it would be impossible.
But that's what we're able to do on a movie like Nemo. The look, performances, world are all nearly exactly the same, we are simply able to re-film the entire feature - this time at higher resolution and in 3D. We're very lucky to be able to do it this way.
Generally, is there a prime spot in the theatre to get the best 3-D experience?
Yes. Obviously, its best to sit in the center from left to right, but in today's theaters with stadium seating, it's best to sit in the center of the screen from top to bottom as well. But not too close.
So a perfect seat would most likely be about 2/3 of the way back in the theater, dead center left/right and top/bottom. Hopefully its a bright, clear projection and soon, you'll be scuba diving with Nemo.