Stereo 3D at 260 kph: Mercedes Benz SLS AMG 3D

IN© Word, an agency formed from some of the best journalistic writing talent, has produced the fastest 3D road car movie made so far. Former Formula 1 racing driver David Coulthard drove the new Mercedes Benz SLS AMG on the Isle of Man TT Mountain Course at speeds of up to 260kph (162mph), shot in Stereoscopic 3D (S3D) by DoP Geoff Boyle.

Geoff chose to shoot the ground based shots using pairs of SI2K minis as their small size allows for a very compact S3D setup combined with the advantages of shooting RAW. The SI2Ks were mounted in an Element Technica DC beamsplitter rig on the Pursuit Crane and a MK-V AR. For the amazing chase shots we had another SLS AMG fitted with a rear facing custom SI2K side by side rig. In car was shot 2D on Toshiba HD minicams to Nanoflash recorders rigged by Extreme Facilities who also do BBC’s Top Gear. On the helicopter Aerial DoP Jeremy Braben had a pair of RED Ones on a gyro stabilized side by side S3D rig.

As Digital Production Supervisor/DIT on the project I had 9 cameras produ­cing over 1TB of compressed data to deal with on the day. During the shoot I worked out of the Station Master’s office upstairs in the Bungalow, a well known TT landmark named after the Bungalow Hotel that once stood on the same site.

Jonathan Smiles and his mobile SpeedGrade DI setup.

Supervising digital acquisition and data on a S3D shoot goes beyond just having to double the data per camera to QC and clone: you need the tools to be able to work in S3D and SpeedGrade’s stereo panel is a very powerful tool to have for on set S3D work. I had the latest beta of SpeedGrade DI 2010 running under both Windows 7 64bit and Mac OSX Snow Leopard (10.6).

David Coulthard being interviewed. © 2010 by INC / INCWORD.COM

For the shoot I ran with OSX on my 17″ MacBook Pro laptop and found the playback performance with S3D material – although not quite realtime – to be very good considering the hardware. On a desktop machine with hardware acceleration it really flies.
Key areas I need to check for S3D are shutter sync, alignment/geometry and color matching all of which are well served in SpeedGrade in addition to all the grading tools.

© 2010 by INC / INCWORD.COM

SpeedGrade gives me lots of flexibility in how I view the stereo images including 3D via a 3D display, anaglyph 3D, side by side, difference, 50% blend etc.

A common myth is people thinking I spend all my time wearing 3D glasses to check material. The reality is I spend most of my time not wearing 3D glasses and using the other viewing modes to assess what is actually happening. For instance most of the SLS S3D shoot was shot parallel, which is not pleasant to view in 3D without first being converged to set the 3D depth. So, using SpeedGrade, I can use the parallax adjustment in conjunction with the difference viewing mode to converge the image (more accurately called Horizontal Image Translation). When you adjust the parallax in difference mode you adjust the image so that the part of the image you want to appear at the depth of the screen cancels out.

© 2010 by INC / INCWORD.COM

The SLS 3D footage has now been finished and been shown on Sky 3D in the UK and will soon be seen all around the world as part of a major consumer electronics manufacturer’s 3D TV demo material. Client and agency are very happy with results and I hope you all get to see it in 3D soon.

© 2010 by INC / INCWORD.COM

Jonathan Smiles
Digital Production Supervisor/DIT

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