Dancing in Stereo: PINA 3D by Wim Wenders

PINA is legendary filmmaker Wim Wenders’ tribute to Pina Bausch. Shot in 3D with the ensemble of the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, this feature-length dance film portrays the exhilarating and inimitable art of this great German choreographer who died in the summer of 2009.

Inviting the viewer on a sensual, visually stunning journey of discovery into a new dimension right onto the stage of the legendary ensemble, the film also accompanies the dancers beyond the theatre, into the city and the surrounding industrial landscape of Wuppertal – the place that was the home and centre of Pina Bausch’s creative life for more than 35 years.

And fittingly, PINA 3D will be presented on Sunday, February 13, 2011 at Berlinale, one of Germany’s largest events, and one of the international film communities most important, attracting more than 19,000 film professionals from over 128 countries.

IRIDAS spoke with Florian Rettich, the production supervisor on the film, who shared with us some of the behind the scenes challenges in the making of this film. Here’s what Florian had to say:

Pina 3D is Wim Wenders approach to bring the audience directly onto the stage of the legendary dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch. It was my job as HD supervisor to ensure the magic was captured in 3D as reliable and as invisible to the dancers as possible. Facing this challenge, a number of proven, as well as a number of new technologies were brought to the set. One of the center pieces for Stereo 3D quality control (and to ensure complete confidence with the director!) was IRIDAS FrameCycler DI.

Looking at the sets for Pina 3D, we were facing numerous challenges. Most shots were done directly in the Pina theater in Wuppertal, which meant narrow space for the S3D cameras and stage lighting. For capturing the angles that Wim had in mind, we also had to design a setup that could be used on a crane. Therefore we needed to come up with a rather small and fully motorized solution with remote controls. The center piece of our rig became a set of Sony HDC-1500 cameras. As we could operate them with just one cable connecting both power and all signals, it made for the ideal solution for our purposes. Together with DoP HÈlËne Louvart, we designed a color pipeline that allowed us to capture a rather film-like look while preventing noise problems from interfering with the S3D image.

Operating the rig became a joint venture of several people on Wenderís’ team. First AC Christian Mayer worked the CMotion controls for both Carl-Zeiss lenses, while I controlled exposure, sync and recording. That enabled our Stereographer, Alain Derobe and his team to focus on the single most important axis to be controlled on the S3D rig: interaxial.

All of it was done live while shooting the plays on 1st and 2nd unit, where 2nd unit was frequently used for 3D steadycam shots.

As we captured a large amount of data every day – up to 4 hours worth of S3D footage – we had to come up with a smart solution for dailies. In addition to recording to HDCAM SR, we simultaneously used a Codex Disk recorder. The Codex provided us with easy access to digital data in no time. As the production company Neue Road Movies made it a precondition that we provide S3D previews on set, we decided to use IRIDAS FrameCycler DI combined with the Codex. This was by far the fastest way to get images that are a pleasure to watch. We had full access to all relevant parameters like geometry controls and parallax in real time.

As this worked out great while shooting, the production company decided to get another FrameCycler system for the editing room to check EDLs coming out of the Avid on a daily basis, doing a stereo conform in FrameCycler.

I am very happy with the results we achieved with the gear we’ve chosen for Pina 3D. Reliability is key when recording such a massive amount of data for an independent 3D movie. There is no room for mistakes on a film as important as this. We captured exactly what we wanted, and most importantly, how we wanted. The technology, in this case, was not a hinderance in any way, but rather helped creating stunning 3D dance scenes.

For more information on PINA 3D at Berlinale, please visit http://www.berlinale.de/en/HomePage.html.

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