Thursday, August 18, 2011

Disney's 3D Philosophy

Tangle's Rapunzel from DisneyPicture.Net
Last week I had the opportunity to attend the SIGGRAPH convention in Vancouver, British Columbia. SIGGRAPH is the primary organization supporting research and education in the field of computer imaging and their annual convention is the place to keep abreast of the newest technological breakthroughs in the field of imaging. One of my favorite sessions this year included a presentation by Robert Neuman of Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Every major film studio remains committed to making 3D movies, but many seem to agree with their critics that much of the content released so far has not been very good. A great deal of time at the convention was spent on teaching 3D cinematography techniques in an attempt to improve future content. Most of the practitioners make analogies to the introduction of color and feel that it will take a while before screenwriters, directors and cinematographers master the new medium.

Many of the 3D tutorials explained methods and mathematics to calculate parallax, determine a comfortable depth budget and ways to prevent and correct window violations. Neuman focused more on the impact of depth on the storyline of the film.

Disney's guidelines for 3D are:

    1.   Keep the viewing experience comfortable
    2.   Avoid gimmicks
    3.   Use depth to enhance storytelling

Disney sees depth as a way to enhance the emotional impact of a scene. In scenes with low emotion levels, the total depth is kept shallow. As the emotion levels build, the depth is increased with the most depth reserved for the highest impact scenes. Disney has also observed that increasing the distance of a character from the audience increases their emotional distance as well. Characters that are positioned in front of the screen are literally "on our side.

I believe that 3D is the next evolution in imaging and those of us in the imaging field need to remain alert for opportunities to incorporate it into our product and service portfolios.

Some of the movies that I believe have made great use of 3D are Avatar, How to Train Your Dragon and Tangled.  What are your favorite 3D movies?

How to Train Your Dragon Blu Ray (Single Disc Blu-Ray 2010)Avatar (Original Theatrical Edition)
Tangled (Four-Disc Combo: Blu-ray 3D / Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy)