Q&A: Jerry Steele on Posting Avril Lavigne in Stereo
Using the Quantel iQ for 3D Post
STEELE Studios co-founder Jerry Steele was online editor on Avril Lavigne’s new video, “What the Hell,” and also supervised stereo 3D post-production, using the stereoscopic capabilities of the Quantel Pablo 4K to precisely calibrate right-eye and left-eye imagery. (He didn’t stop there – he was also in charge of beauty work and FX and served as colorist.) In this Q&A, he describes the process of finishing a high-end music video in 1080p stereo 3D.
We finished the 2D version around 1/21/11, and the 3D version on 2/2/11. They can view it on the 3Net Channel right now. Sony has also suggested that they may be showing it in stores as well.
Was this Steele Studios’ first 3D job?
No. We started a few years ago, doing tests to help some of the studios figure out an easier way of viewing 3D in a theaters without the need for expensive projection-system upgrades. We completed many different examples of 3D-stereo and presentation formats utilizing handmade projection lenses that did not require two projectors or spinning aperture wheels. Last year we completed a video featuring Shakira and Freshly Ground for the opening ceremony of the World Cup soccer competition.
There are now a handful of 3D channels airing around the globe. Each one of these channels is clamoring for content. Some are utilizing existing footage gathered from various live sponsored events and movies, while others are looking to produce original shows and content – including formats that up until now have not been considered for 3D. Music videos have always represented a creative playground for directors and talent, and it’s where we expect the most exciting 3D to emerge.
Did you upgrade the Pablo specifically for 3D work on “What the Hell”?
No. We upgraded one of our systems to iQ about four years ago and then again to Pablo early last year with the addition of a second iQ. We added the stereo option at that time, when we were starting to see a real shift into the 3D arena.
How is the left-eye/right-eye post process? Is is more or less automatic, or does it require finessing?
The post process in Pablo, although somewhat simplified, is still complex. Left and right eyes are ingested and then registered for linearity, keystoning and color differences. This is still an artist-driven process and requires acute attention to detail to complete. Third-party software options for offsets are available, but with the rendering power and the ability to output two full-resolution streams simultaneously, the Pablo is generally considered the machine of choice.
How about color grading for 3D in Pablo? How does that work?
In order to achieve a perfect stereo-3D image, the left and right eyes need to be a similar as possible. The only difference should be [introduced by] the interocular distance. Variations in color and geometry tend to deteriorate the 3D imagery and create optical conflicts. We have a superlative color-correction toolset in Pablo that is designed specifically for the manipulation of color for 3D and 2D. Matching color is time-consuming and potentially frustrating, but it’s made easier with real-time rendering and unlimited cascades of color settings that can be shared across timelines.
What were your deliverables for 2D and 3D?
HDCAM SR for both. We delivered dual-stream 4:2:2 for the 3D in addition to mastering left and right eyes separately to SR.
What was your experience like with director Marcus Raboy and the producers?
Marcus is an extraordinarily talented director with an enthusiasm for excellence through image and technology. He was the director on the Shakira project and has received worldwide recognition as the go-to guy for 3D music videos. He is supremely patient and fully understands the complexities and pitfalls of working in 3D. We have established a great working relationship and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with him on his projects.
Where do you think stereo 3D was put to best use in the video?
The entire video is in 3D. There are five distinct acts, and the 3D was prepared for each individually. On only a few occasions, the 3D was gratuitous – to satisfy audiences still requiring the wow factor. Mostly, the video was designed more as an “immersive” experience – that’s a new clichà© for the 3D sector – without the need for flying objects that give audiences whiplash. The video was designed primarily for TV release, not theaters, so the depth budget was kept low with the majority of convergences occurring on or behind the screen plane.