This blog aims to share my thesis research on stereoscopic cinema. I will regularly write down my thoughts and discuss a topic from one of the following categories: technical issues, stereoscopic 'correspondances' (this is directly related to my thesis), S3D films reviews, the history of French stereoscopic cinema … and more!

Archive for the ‘S3D Activities’ Category

“Endless Night” Part III: the Screening

Last year, I worked as script supervisor on Jonathan Bocquet’s S3D short horror film Endless Night. This film was part of the Action 3Ds research project that linked Binocle 3D and Thalès-Angénieux societies, Louis-Lumière National Film School (La Plaine Saint-Denis, France), and the French National Institute for Computer Research and Automatic (Institut National pour la Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique – INRIA). The film was a life-size test for the Dynamic Stereoscopic Previz, a S3D pre-visualisation software that INRIA engineers Rémi Ronfard and Laurent Boiron had developed.

The film was finally screened at Louis-Lumière School, so everybody who worked on the film could watch the result.

During the filming, we thought of ways to use stereoscopy as a mean to emphasise the emotion, as danger increases. I have been surprised to discover that Jonathan finally decided to reduce the S3D budget and to keep it little during the entire film.

The stereoscopic consistency (as well as the editing) however helped lifting the three ellipsis within the film that, when reading the screenplay and even later during the filming, created breaks that might have compromised the story’s integrity when watching the film.

As James and Mary, the two protagonists, took refuge in an abandoned house, the atmosphere is full of dust. Although the property master kept throwing cement in the air before each take, there is no dust left when looking at images. It is a shame, because it is the kind of small particles that contribute to give S3D images the illusion of materiality. For example, stereographer Demetri Portelli used it in both Martin Scorsese’s Hugo Cabret and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet, and the result is quite nice.

The stereoscopic result of Endless Night is very smooth, but almost imperceptible, even at the end of the film, when danger and suspense reach their maximum intensity. That is probably the reason why I am a little disappointed. I cannot help thinking that stereoscopy could have been kept little most of the time (as it helps to keep the film as a whole) with a few sudden bursts. In other words, including stereoscopic variations that are not in synchronisation with the story’s time variations.

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“Endless Night” Part II: the Filming

Thanks to my PhD supervisor Giusy PISANO who teaches at the National Film School Louis Lumière (La Plaine Saint-Denis, France), I got involved in the “Action 3Ds” research project. In the previous post I wrote about the preparation of Jonathan Bocquet’s film Endless Night. I will now share my experience during the filming.

EndlessNight_Rig-AlignmentChart

CONTEXT

What

Jonathan Bocquet’s short horror film Endless Night is part of Action 3Ds research program. During the preparation we used the Dynamic Stereoscopic Previz (DSP), a new pre-visualisation software for S3D films designed by INRIA engineers Rémi Ronfard and Laurent Boiron. The filming aimed to validate the DSP.

Who

Rémi Ronfard and Laurent Boiron were on set to provide their support and to check that we were filming according to the previz.

Jeanne Guillot supervised the stereography with her assistant Fabienne Delaleau.

The rest of the crew was made of professionals and students.

Where

The shooting took place at Louis Lumière Film School (La Plaine Saint-Denis, France).

When

We started filming on Monday, June 15, 2015 and ended on Friday, June 19, 2015.

S3D TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

We used two Sony F55 cameras equipped with Angénieux’s Optimo DP zoom lenses (18-42mm & 30-80mm) mounted on a Binocle 3D beamsplitter rig. Binocle 3D team also provided the Tagger, one of their on-set tool, for setting the S3D. The cameras recorded on S×S cards (4K). We also had two 46″ 3-D displays to watch both the previz and the on-set frame.

S3D SCRIPT SUPERVISING on ENDLESS NIGHT

Working with the pre-visualisation

The first day was dedicated to the lighting. We also planned to film a couple of inserts, but we have been able to shoot only one.

We started on the second day with a one-page long dialogue scene, where James is sitting in the main room whereas Mary is laid in the bedroom. For every shot we had to film, we started by looking at the previz settings : focal length, camera height and distance from the actors. We placed the S3D rig according to these settings and adjusted the position to get the frame planned on the DSP. It permitted us to work faster: we had the time to film the insert that was missing and finished 25mn early!

I think the previz has been a useful tool to get the first version of the frame. No one wondered if we should equipped the cameras with 35mm or 40mm lenses. We neither lost time searching the camera position, its height, etc. The previz was THE reference: everyone knew what frame the director wanted, including the technical details. Endless Night was, however, a particular shooting as it was made for artistic as well as research purposes. We had to film the shots according to the previz first, then we were free to film them differently.

During the principle photography of a film, free from research goals, once the camera gets quickly in position according to the previz, the director is free to ask for adjustments. Of course, it is probably more complicated when there are lots of SFX, VFX, or if the changes the director asked for suddenly require a crane. But I think that even for simple shots, the previz has been a valuable tool.

Space continuity

We used many different lenses, from 30mm to 80mm. It has been the opportunity for me to learn what S3D shots really look like when filming with long focal length lenses. In that way, I shall have visual references for the next stereoscopic 3D projects. We had various space configurations: sometimes we shot close to a wall in a narrow room, other times we filmed in a deeper room. Speaking in general, we used the full range of focal lengths, whatever the space configuration was.

When filming in S3D, the focal length impacts the space representation. A long focal length lens would make the space and the objects looking like a scrapbook. On the opposite, with the same S3D settings, a short focal length lens would make the space look larger and deeper. It could even emphasise the roundness: the shorter the focal length is, the more the roundness.

It has been very difficult for me to imagine what the shots would look like, once put altogether, so as to keep an eye on the space consistency. Thinking of that, I have the feeling that we did not think enough about the space. Maybe we should have thought of ways to link the spaces? For example in the dialogue scene, as James and Mary are in two different rooms. They are able to communicate thanks to the opened door. We thought of the stereoscopy as a tool to distort and deepen spaces. Maybe we should have thought of different camera angles and movements a lot more to support the stereoscopy?

EndlessNight_FinalZombie

I am really looking forward watching the editing.

“Endless Night” Part I: Previz and preparation

Thanks to my PhD supervisor Giusy PISANO who teaches at the French National Film School Louis Lumière (La Plaine Saint-Denis, France), I got involved in the “Action 3Ds” research project.

CONTEXT

What is Action 3Ds research program?

Action 3Ds is a four years research program that aims to develop the Dynamic Stereoscopic Previz (DSP), a new pre-visualisation software designed for S3D films.

Who is involved?

Stereographers from Binocle 3D helped Rémi RONFARD and Laurent BOIRON, engineers from the French Institute for Computer Science and Automation (Institut National pour la Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique – INRIA), to design the software. Louis Lumière Film School provided the facilities to make a film for testing the software.

What is the film?

Jonathan BOCQUET, who graduated from Louis Lumière Film School in 2011 (his diploma thesis research focused on how stereoscopic cinema influences the filming), wrote a short horror film untitled Endless Night:

“James is hiding in an abandoned house with his girlfriend Mary, who is eight months pregnant. One night, James catches a message from his radio: the refugee camp they are trying to reach, has been attacked by zombies. James decides to go out while Mary is sleeping, to figure out what happened. A couple of hours later, a noise wakes Mary up… ”

What are the tests?

Working on Jonathan’s screenplay and shot list, INRIA engineers designed the previz of the shots, using the Dynamic Stereoscopic Previz. Then, a professional crew made the film.

We were free to film shots differently from the previz, as long as we also filmed the shots according to the previz, so as to validate the settings (such as focal length, distance and height, and S3D settings) implemented in the Dynamic Stereoscopic Previz.

Tests were also planned after the filming, so as to compare the stereography between the pre-visualised shots and the shots that were actually filmed.

MY JOB IN “ACTION 3Ds”

I worked as script supervisor on Jonathan’s film Endless Night.

Although I was hired about a month before the filming (earlier than for the shootings at Clermont-Ferrand), it was still late comparing to the production planning. Indeed, a first shooting had been made about a year ago, in 2014. Apparently, it has not been satisfying enough, so people decided that another shooting had to be made.

Jonathan did a shot list and a storyboard he sent to Rémi Ronfard and Laurent Boiron.

Pre-visualising the shot list

A two-days meeting happened three weeks before the shooting. I was working on a (2D) short film at that time, so I could only attend the meeting on the second day.

INRIA engineers had made a previz working on Jonathan’s storyboard. Many thanks to Rémi Ronfard and Laurent Boiron who allowed me to share the image below from the DSP:

Endless Night_Previz_Shot5

We discussed the shot list, proposing to film some of the shots differently. Laurent was applying our ideas in real-time on the DSP, according to our discussion. This previz has been a valuable tool for me. It helped me to visualise the set, which I had never seen. I was able to make propositions according to the space we were about to film. For example, moving a little the camera position so as to give the shot some perspective back and emphasise the stereoscopy. Watching the shots and the floor plan on the previz also caught my attention on some of the main props that were moving too much instead of staying at the same place. Everybody knows that cinema is the art of cheating, but there are some limits to keep the space consistent, especially when filming in S3D.

Designing the stereography

Just before the filming began, we discussed with Jeanne Guillot, the stereographer, about the stereography. We first thought of applying a sort of “stereoscopic theme” to each character. The idea was to apply a special stereoscopic treatment to James, making him “stereographically” a zombie from the beginning of the film. The scenic box would progressively increase when filming Mary, so as to get the same stereoscopic treatment for both the characters at the end of the film. That idea seemed nice, but as we planned to use lots of different focal length (from 28mm to 80mm), we thought that it would not work properly.

That is the reason why we decided to keep a “normal” spatial treatment in the first scene. Then, once Mary has woken up in the middle of the night because of a strange noise, the stereoscopy would help to deepen and distort the space in order to underline the strangeness and Mary’s discomfort.

In my next post I will share my experience during the filming.

DOCUMENTS

Jonathan Bocquet, L’intégration du procédé relief dans le découpage cinématographique (in French), diploma thesis, Cinema Department, École Nationale Supérieure Louis Lumière, 2011. Available at: http://www.ens-louis-lumiere.fr/formation/recherche/memoires-de-fin-detudes/cinema/2011.html

Sergi Pujades, Laurent Boiron, Remi Ronfard, Frédéric Devernay. “Dynamic Stereoscopic Previz”. International Conference on 3D Imaging, Dec 2014, Liege, Belgium. Available at: https://hal.inria.fr/hal-01083848

Laurent Boiron, Rémi Ronfard. “Stereoscopic Previz in the Blender Game Engine”. Blender Conference, Oct 2014, Amsterdam, Netherlands. 2014. Available at: https://hal.inria.fr/hal-01086760

S3D Shooting at Clermont-Ferrand

Last month, I had the opportunity to work as script supervisor during a S3D shooting in Clermont-Ferrand (France). This was my first S3D shooting and it has been a valuable experience.

EJacopin_ClermontFerrand1

Context

Where

It took place in the National School of Architecture of Clermont-Ferrand during the International Short Film Festival. During the Festival, the School of Architecture opens its doors to various art schools to give the public (scholars as well as people from the festival) a chance to discover the schools, their scholar programs and to discuss with the students.

When

From February 2nd, 2015 to February 6th, 2015 the National Film School Louis Lumière organised a stereoscopic 3D shooting.

Who

The set had been built by students from the National School of Architecture of Clermont-Ferrand (France). They also provided the furniture, the props and everything that was needed to create the set according to the scenes that were filmed every day.

Students from the Conservatory of Dramatic Arts Emmanuel-Chabrier (Clermont-Ferrand, France) performed the scenes. They had a different role every day and, as there were more girls than boys, a girl could play a masculine role.

Students preparing a Higher National Diploma (equivalent to 12th Grade) at the École Fournier (Clermont-Ferrand, France) were responsible of make-up and hair-dressing.

Students from National Film School Louis Lumière (Saint-Denis, France) made the rest of the crew: directing, camera, cinematography and sound. Sylvie Carcedo (professor at Louis Lumière) and the French stereographer Thomas Villepoux supervised the students on set.

What

Every day, the students re-made in S3D a different scene from the following 2D films:

– 2 scenes from To Be or Not to Be (Ernst Lubitsch, 1942)

– 2 scenes from Polisse (Maïwenn, 2011)

– 1 scene from Maigret tend un piège (Jean Delannoy, 1958).

S3D Technical Specs

To fulfil these every day shootings, we used two Sony PWF-F3 cameras equipped with Angénieux’s Optimo zoom lenses (18-42mm) mounted on a Binocle 3D beamsplitter rig. Binocle 3D team also provided the Tagger, one of their on-set tool, for setting the S3D. The cameras recorded on S×S cards (XD-cam codec). Also, we had a large screen (about 4m×3m / 13’×10′) so that the visitors were able to see what we were filming.

S3D Script Supervising during this workshop

Preparation time

Before leaving home, I designed special continuity reports I brought with me. It included more space to identify the two cameras’ rolls, some space to take note of what kind of rig was used (side-by-side or beamsplitter) and a column dedicated to S3D settings.

I didn’t have much time to prepare the different shootings. Indeed, I met the students for the first time only a couple of days before going to Clermont-Ferrand. I read the scenes in the train and started to get familiar with the shot lists they had made. As it was an exercise, they had courses on stereoscopy the week before filming and they considered it to make artistic choices : lenses, camera movements and frames.

I had the opportunity to discuss the shot lists with the students on location, once we had unloaded the equipment from the truck. We just had to make sure that we would cover enough the script for the editing and that they would be able to make the shots they had dreamt of on paper match together. Filming in S3D does not mean that you can throw away some basics to ensure soft cuts between two different camera positions. Nothing much to say about this, it was the usual script supervisor’s job.

The Filming

We filmed only five to seven different set-ups each day. It was not that much, so I did not face big continuity issues. As we used short focal length lenses, we had to put the camera close to the actors to make tight shots. Sometimes, the camera really was in front of the actors. In those cases, the eyeline was tricky adjust, to make the characters look at each other without giving the impression they were looking directly into the camera.

The large screen has been very useful. It was very comfortable for everybody to see what the stereoscopic images looked like (and for me to help fixing the eyeline). It gave me the opportunity to start learning the stereo effects depending on the S3D settings the stereographer told me. Indeed, I think it can be useful as a script supervisor, to be able to represent what the S3D looks like regarding the S3D settings, to make sure that the stereography is consistent from one shot to the next.

I discovered how much the S3D settings could vary to avoid breaking frame effects, especially when the actors and the camera move. On the opposite, I had the feeling that some framings or camera movements did not allow to have much depth budget. For example, Polisse‘s scenes take place in an office. Two police officers are interviewing a young teenage girl. We filmed a two shot of the policemen, as a consequence we were not able not avoid the desk. Although it would have been interesting to put the stereo window just behind them, to enhance their presence from the girl’s point of view (the policemen are laughing at her), we were not able to do this because of that desk in the foreground. Indeed, the desk would have been out of the screen, creating a strong breaking frame effect.

In conclusion, some questions

The director agreed for not setting the stereo window behind the EJacopin_ClermontFerrand2policemen. But what are the limits to create a new way of filming in S3D? If we had decided to make the two policemen slightly popping out of the screen to increase their presence, should have we put the desk in a different position from the beginning? Should have we moved the camera or the actors during the filming? Or should have we changed the lens?

When does the “think in 3-D” process start when you decide to make a S3D film?

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