Astoria, New York (PressExposure) April 07, 2011 -- Now is the time for enterprising music producers to head in a new direction - stereoscopic 3D video.
With the coming of 3D home entertainment systems and content providers, 3D projects are no longer reserved for blockbuster films, animated features and pop concerts.
In fact, music video is fast becoming a proving ground for innovative directors and post production professionals specializing in stereo 3D.
STEELE Studios is leading the charge. The 15-year-old post production company offers a full range of post services and for Avril Lavigne's new video, supporting her hit song and new album of the same name - "What the Hell," STEELE Studios gave its all.
When the call came, Jerry and Jo Steele (founders of STEELE Studios) were ready -- they already had some big-name 3D video work under their belts. "Last year we completed a 3D video featuring Shakira and Freshly Ground for the opening ceremony of the World Cup soccer competition," says Jerry Steele. "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)" was the official theme song of FIFA's 2010 World Cup. Both directed by Marcus Raboy and production company DNA" "Waka Waka" was a big production, even in 2D.
Besides serving as online editor on "What the Hell," Jerry Steele was also in charge of the video's highly detailed stereo 3D work. He used Steele's Quantel Pablo 4K with Stereo 3D for stereoscopic DI, conform and convergence work. STEELE upgraded early in 2010 to Pablo Stereo 3D with an eye toward doing more 3D work like Shakira's World Cup video. "We added the stereo option at that time as we were starting to see a real shift into the 3D arena," says Steele.
Meanwhile, the post process in Pablo, although somewhat simplified, is still complex, Steele says. "Left and right eyes are ingested and then registered for linearity, key-stoning and color differences. This is still an artist-driven process and requires acute attention to detail to complete."
Steele appreciated working again with director Raboy. "Marcus has received worldwide recognition as the go-to guy for 3D music videos," Steele says. "He is supremely patient and fully understands the complexities and pitfalls of working in 3D. We have established a great working relationship and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with him on his projects."
Jerry Steele also served as colorist, beauty and FX artist. "Beauty"? Yes - similar to the beautification techniques used in still photography, it's become an important post-production niche in Hollywood. "We have developed techniques over the last 15 years to bring still-photography results to moving images," says Steele. "It is complex and requires many hours of tracking and compositing to achieve. We are recognized as specialists in this field and have supplied services to all of the most recognized faces in the entertainment industry."
Immerse in 3D at home
Where is 3D production for home television heading? Jerry Steele believes that more 3D productions, like "What the Hell," will offer a subtler, richer "immersive" experience. The entire Lavigne video is in 3D.
It comprises five sequences including a joyride in a taxi, a street basketball game and a live performance and the 3D was prepared for each individually. Steele allows that there were a few occasions where the 3D effect was aimed at "satisfying audiences still requiring the wow factor." He says music videos "have always represented a playground creatively to directors and talent and it is from here that we anticipate the most exciting 3D to emerge.
There are now a handful of 3D channels airing around the globe -- each one of these channels is clamoring for content."
Steele continues, "3D is definitely the next big thing in TV. It will spur the arrival of many new channels and I believe it will revolutionize the gaming industry more than any other technological development before it. Many post houses still believe it's a fad and will not adopt the new technology until it has proven itself industry wide. Others, like ourselves, recognize the potential and will continue to embrace changing technologies and strive to remain at the tip of the sword."
If you have DirecTV, then you can tune into 3Net - the new 24/7 3D network - and see the full 3D version of Lavigne's video now.
As for 3Net - it is itself a brand new entry in the stereo TV race - a co-venture of Sony, Discovery and IMAX. The 24/7 3D network is the first 24/7 fully programmed, general entertainment 3D television network in the U.S. The channel will feature the world's largest library of native 3D television content and who do you think created the 3D promos for the launch of 3Net? Yup, STEELE Studios but more on that coming soon!
As for the standard-definition 2D iteration, also finished by STEELE Studios, Lavigne and her on-camera antics were viewed over20 million times on YouTube alone in the video's first few weeks!
STEELE Studios is convinced that stereo 3D for home entertainment is the next must-have. The post production company's founders, Jo and Jerry Steele, are also convinced that their Quantel Pablo system, with stereoscopic 3D option, is the best way to finish a project in stereo, including color grading.
"In order to achieve a perfect Stereo3D image both the left and right eyes need to be as similar as possible," says Jerry Steele. "The only difference should be the inter-ocular distance. Variations in color and geometry tend to deteriorate the 3D imagery and create optical conflicts. We have a superlative color correction toolset in Pablo that is designed specifically for the manipulation of color for 3D and 2D. Matching color is time-consuming and potentially frustrating but made easier with real-time rendering and unlimited cascades of color settings that can be shared across timelines." Director Marcus Raboy shot "What the Hell" in digital and Steele worked from HDCam SR masters.
Pablo gave Steele access to all procedures required for finishing both 2D and 3D versions. "With our system, we can do everything in one box without the need for any outsourcing. Graphics, beauty, online, color correction, effects, dust-busting, cleanup and mastering all on one platform." Since "What the Hell" was designed primarily for TV release and not theaters the depth budget was kept low with the majority of convergences occurring on or behind the screen plane.
While the STEELE Studios' Pablo system can handle 4K, their work on Avril Lavigne's "What the Hell" was mastered in 1080pHD.
When you take into account the massive digital assets required for both eyes, the bandwidth was almost 4K. "4K is four times larger than 2K which is approximately 8 times larger than SD," says Steele. "Still, the whole project on Avril filled about 20 percent of the available space on the Pablo."