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Motion Picture Science Students Bring Their 3D Vision to RIT
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Motion Picture Science

It’s a simple story of supply and demand, or demand and supply, depending on how you look at it. In any case, what began as a quest for a senior project emerged as a useful legacy created by students, for students.

May. 24, 2011
Amy Mednick

Ian Krassner and Allison Hettinger, students of Professor David Long, are newly graduated from the Motion Picture Science program at the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences. The Motion Picture Science program is a collaboration between the School of Film and Animation and the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science. By joining a core curriculum in practical film-making from the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences and imaging science from the College of Science, this program trains students in the art and science of feature film, television, and animation production.

Motion Picture Science senior Allison Hettinger with the 3D projection setup

Krassner and Hettinger knew School of Film and Animation students lacked the expensive equipment necessary to produce stereoscopic, three-dimensional motion pictures. And so, for their senior project, the two graduating students set about to find a successful, yet economical, approach to enable SoFA film majors to shoot, edit, and screen a convincing and enjoyable digital movie that creates an illusion of depth perception.

“We wanted to create a way for the film students to create 3D movies, from filming, to editing, to viewing,” Hettinger says. “Our project will also help educate the film students in how to make good 3D versus bad 3D movies.”


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.

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