Dolphins in Paradise

Joe VanDalsem of ParadiseFX in Los Angeles is a very busy man. And with the steep rise in demand for stereo 3D productions in Hollywood today, he’s busier than ever!

Founded in 1992, Paradise FX has a well deserved reputation for excellence and innovations, as one of the earliest pioneers in HD3D production and post production, and today, they are well ahead of the curve in 3D stereoscopic production. With a custom designed, state-of-the-art line of 3D “Tri-Delta” dual camera systems, as well as several digital systems in development, Paradise FX is quickly rising to the top of the list for major motion picture producers looking to create the next 3D blockbuster. The results they deliver have earned them industry accolades, awards, and most importantly, some very high profile projects.  

ParadiseFX' Joe VanDalsem

We recently spoke with Joe about their latest 3D stereo movie production – A Dophin’s Tale 3D, starring Morgan Freeman. When we spoke with Joe, the team was at the precise half-way point in the production. He shared with us some of the technical challenges of 3D production, and interestingly, how expectations and requirements of the directors and DPs are increasingly driving the need for leading edge, real time, on set stereoscopic tools.  


There’s so much to consider in the stereoscopic pipeline/workflow – you need to be thinking about the role of each element in your pipeline, and how the tools integrate with each other – from camera to post. And the more you can simplify and streamline at the beginning, the more time and money you’re going to save.  

Right off the bat, we knew we were shooting with RED, so RED Rocket support was critical for viewing dailies. We invested in IRIDAS’ SpeedGrade DI for a couple of reasons. One was the RED Rocket support – this alone made it possible for us to be running dailies in 3D and in real time with cinema grade image quality. Before Red Rocket support was part of our tool set, allowing us to stay in RAW format, we’d spend literally hours rendering before we could look at the content. Not to mention, once you’ve rendered, you’re locked into formats, color spaces, resolution… there’s no going back – there’s no time. 


With SpeedGrade DI, we’re viewing 3D content in real time without rendering and no commitments to formats. We’re shooting a full days worth of stereo content and viewing the entire thing right away – no rendering and in full resolution. This just isn’t possible with any other software out there.  

Joe is also a big fan of DualStream NX, IRIDAS’ stereoscopic tool set at the heart of SpeedGrade DI.  

IRIDAS has engineered an intuitive set of stereo tools that are miles ahead of their closest competitors. DualStream NX was another key factor for us. It came down to how DualStream handles stereo files – it’s not only just faster, there’s an entire range of features that enable us to deliver the director and DPs a theatrical 3D experience right in the production office. To create more of a theatrical experience, we paired an 11 foot projection Stewart silver screen and a FULL 1080p LG CF3D passive polarized projector to emulate what people will ultimately see in theaters. To do this, you need to do more than just muxing left and right eyes; you’re color grading, applying looks, everything to create the experience. So not only are we seeing the 3D in real time, we’re able to grade, in 3D, on both eyes simultaneously and look at it in real time. 

Today, there’s an expectation amongst directors, DP and production crews. More than ever, time is money. They want to see shots graded, in stereo, as close to how it’s going to look in theaters as possible – and they want to see it now. It’s this level of expectation that’s driving decision making at the outset of a production – what cameras are you shooting with and in what format, what grading and previz tools are going to slipstream into that workflow and what’s going to deliver immediate, cinema grade content so we can ensure we get the shot right the first time – no rendering, no waiting, no reshooting. We’re saving money every time we can view a shot and make key decisions on the fly.  

With SpeedGrade DI, we know what we’re looking at here in real time is exactly what it’s going to look like in theaters. And our ability to deliver that level of expertise, quality and peace of mind is invaluable to us at Paradise FX.