3D movies are taking Hollywood by storm, but making a 3D film doesn’t require a mega budget or high-tech equipment. In fact, making a 3D film is quite simple. Rachel England shares tips from some pros...
Don’t worry too much about your kit
Thanks to the 3D blockbusters all over our cinema screens, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you need a load of expensive equipment to make a 3D film, but actually it’s quite easy to freestyle with kit you already have.
3D film works by recreating our eyes’ visual process, so two regular cameras (of a similar spec) set eyes-distance apart will do the job just fine. Just make sure they’re firmly fixed together (with a metal bar, for example) so they don’t swing out of sync. Alternatively, try a mirror stereo adapter. “This is simply a mirror that you fix to the front of the camera,” says Stuart Warren-Hill, audio-visual artist and co-founder of visual electronica act Hexstatic. “This splits the image in two and allows you to create a 3D effect during post-production.”
Don’t worry about post-production gear, either, says Stuart. “Nearly all production software comes with 3D capabilities now. Even the free stuff.” Try StereoMovie Maker, a free downloadable programme which combines your left and right camera recordings into a single green-and-red tinted image.
Plan your shots
“Whether you’re making a 3D or 2D film, it’s important to storyboard your shots,” says 3D production consultant Jacquie Pepall, who helped to set up Sky 3D. “This helps you gauge the flow of the story and saves you time in the long-run by ensuring you’ve got all the shots you need and aren’t wasting efforts on shots that aren’t going to be required.” However, storyboarding is especially crucial in 3D filmmaking. “You want to make sure the three-dimensional depth isn’t too different between shots. Allow around three seconds for the viewers’ eyes to adjust; moving from a flat 2D vista to a deep 3D close up can be quite jarring.” Which brings us to...
Think about your audience
“Watching a 3D film can be very demanding on the audience,” says Jacquie. “We’ve found that people tend to look all around the screen, rather than a single fixed point, as you would with 2D.” So it’s important to compose shots with this in mind. “For an ‘easy’ 3D viewing experience I’d recommend filming an object from about six feet away. If you get too close, viewers’ eyes can’t ‘fuse’ the left and right lines and you’ll lose the 3D effect.” Also, consider framing: you don’t want a 3D object to be ‘cut off’ by the edges of a screen or television.
Try using 3D as an opportunity for storytelling, says Jacquie. “As an industry we use it as a ‘cool thing’, but there’s a lot of artistic merit in it. Take the movie Citizen Kane, for example. That was a hugely innovative film in the way depth of field and focus was used. The same storytelling technique could be used with 3D.” But remember, 3D isn’t just for movies, says Stuart. “I mainly make 3D audio-visual art for nightclubs and galleries, which is liberating as I’m not confined by the stylistic ‘rules’ associated with creating a film. 3D is a fantastic medium for tinkering around with and breaking boundaries.”
Get your work out there
As 3D gains more ground in the world of film, more opportunities are springing up to help 3D filmmakers get their work seen. Take a look at IdeasTap’s brief, in association with BoldFace Productions, calling for a film crew to help make a five-minute 3D film (but be quick, the brief closes soon!). Or check out this competition from Nintendo and the BFI offering the chance to win a professional film crew to help make your own short movie.
In association with BoldFace Productions, we're offering the chance for you to make your very own 3D film – and get it screened at the BFI. Apply now!
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