Initially, the two seniors created a rig built specifically to mount two Canon digital video cameras that are readily available for any film student. They conducted two shoots with their newly designed rig, taking both qualitative and quantitative test scenes.
Motion Picture Science senior Ian Krassner demonstrating the 3D camera rig
In order to edit the footage, Hettinger and Krassner took the simplest route and used the Final Cut Pro software available in the film school computer lab. Then, through many hours of trial and error, they found a way to view the footage in anaglyph—images that provide a stereoscopic 3D effect—on the computer to allow students to edit in 2D or 3D.
To view the 3D clips, they set up a rig with dual projectors and polarized lenses. They tested many sets of images on the silver screen, which they bought with a portion of the $2,000 in seed money provided by the CIAS. In the course of developing this complex workflow on a budget, Krassner and Hettinger gained a better understanding of the pivotal concepts under debate in the industry concerning good vs. bad quality 3D filmmaking.
One of the biggest unexpected challenges, both students say, involved discussions around budget issues, equipment purchases, and waiting for deliveries. “It’s the real-life learning about working with time, space, and budget limitations, while choosing when to maneuver around unforeseen roadblocks and when we needed to just tackle the problems head on,” Krassner says.
While their results to date are not quite at the level of the 3D version of Avatar, the legacy is real at CIAS. Next year’s seniors are already designing their own projects piggybacking on this year’s work. Future students will be able to borrow the 3D film equipment along with a book of guidelines authored by Hettinger and Krassner.
“You know it works when the film students see what they’re doing and want to get their hands on it,” Long says.