[caption id="attachment_29189" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Jeremy Piven and Jessica Alba in a scene from Spy Kids"][/caption] Detroit: Director Robert Rodriguez has always embraced technology and pushed it to its limits - so it came as no surprise when he began pioneering the next generation of stereo 3D filmmaking and reinventing the rudimentary process first developed in the 1950’s. In 2003, with the release of ‘Spy Kids 3D: Game Over,’ Rodriguez reintroduced 3D movies to mainstream audiences and has been at the forefront of its comeback every since. Committed to taking the genre to the next level with ‘Spy Kids: All The Time In The World,’ the newest film in the successful franchise, Rodriguez and The Weinstein Company called upon Speedshape’s new 3D film division, the highest quality, most cutting-edge creative resource they could find, and tasked it with converting the film from 2D to stereoscopic 3D. The veteran award-winning CGI company’s strong artistic aesthetic set its work apart from the crowd in a sea of techno-centric competitors vying for a piece of the 3D pie.
While Speedshape debuted it 3D feature film services only a few weeks ago, co-founders Tom Stone and Oivind Magnussen first had the vision to see the potential of 3D cinema back in 2008. Over the last three-years they have been expanding and re-structuring their company’s Detroit and Los Angeles-based studio complexes - fine-tuning the technology, optimizing the fluidity of their pipeline and creating an efficient, filmmaker-friendly 2D-to-3D conversion process with its own unique signature.
The launch of Speedshape’s 3D division was prompted by a call from Frank Rainone, a senior vice president at the Weinstein Company, who was hoping to find several 2D-to-3D conversion firms capable of sharing the workload for the film. “We still hadn’t officially opened the doors of the division when Frank asked us to submit a test for ‘Spy Kids,’” says Stone. “But we jumped at the opportunity to test our skills on a movie for Robert Rodriguez, a director at the forefront of the new age of 3D filmmaking.”
Rainone notes, “We had already asked some high-profile companies to create 3D test sequences for the film, when we learned that Speedshape had been developing a unique approach to conversion, so we added them to the list. Once we saw their work we knew we had found a unique creative resource. Their test was phenomenal. Speedshape’s level of organization, efficiency and professional approach to doing business surpassed our expectations. It was clear that the artistry and quality of their work was going to raise the creative bar for 3D conversions.” Rodriguez, Rainone and the film’s executive producers, Bob and Harvey Weinstein, concurred that the quality of Speedshape’s test footage and its seamless workflow was exceptional, and entrusted the company with the conversion of the entire film.
"When we wanted to release the film in 4D, but still needed to quickly convert what we had already shot to 3-D, I knew a conversion would need to have the 3D quality I would expect from shooting with stereo cameras,” says Rodriguez. “ I try to find companies that work at the 'speed of thought' and, after learning more about Speedshape, I knew they were the best team for the project.”
“The quality of Speedshape’s 3D conversion was remarkable, even blending seamlessly with footage that was shot stereo. They were able to turn over first-rate work quickly and they were amazing to work with,” adds the award-winning director. “The end result was a fun family movie with high quality 3D effects that introduced another element of interaction to the audience.”
Rainone was so impressed with Speedshape that he abandoned plans to create an in-house 3D facility at The Weinstein Company and joined the company to head up the development of a full-service 3D division dedicated to providing filmmakers with a world-class technical and creative resource for 3D filmmaking.
While Speedshape traditionally begins working on a film during the pre-production phase and their collaboration follows through with on-set supervision, Rodriguez’s experience in 3D production made him uniquely qualified to map out the logistics of the production phase. The director shot the film with co-cinematographer Jimmy Lindsey using ARRI ALEXA cameras and then called upon Speedshape’s expertise during the post process.
Mike Albert, head of production at Speedshape notes, “It’s uncommon for a single company to take on the conversion of a full-length feature film. Studios usually divide a movie among multiple houses. We were dealing with over 2,000 shots and every single frame had to be converted to 3D. Once we got rolling we were sending Robert over 200 shots a week to review. And, since the final cut was still not locked, a number of shots didn’t make it into the final film. But the flexibility it gave the editor made it well worth the extra effort.”
“Speedshape’s first task was dimensionalizing the footage to varying degrees – bracketing shots, giving some more or less depth, stretching the positive space. After we established the depth budget, Robert made only a few subtle adjustments,” recalls Albert. “We also prepared the VFX assets while waiting for the plates so we could finalize the shots and render them out. Very few shots came back to us for correction, and when they did it was more a subjective question rather than anything technical. We were spot on with everything!”
At Speedshape’s Detroit studio complex a key producer oversaw the massive process; the team included stereographers and artists who handled the roto-intensive conversion. The company’s software department developed code to create an asset management system that could deal with the extraordinary volume of data, and created custom software to interface with The Foundry’s Nuke, which formed the core of Speedshape’s conversion process.
While optimizing the quality of the final 3D film is Speedshape’s focus, the company is also dedicated to providing the flexibility and client services that make a filmmaker’s journey through the process a great experience.
Albert, who points out that ‘Spy Kids: All The Time in the World’ marked Speedshape’s feature film debut, adds, “We’re particularly proud that the director and studio were thrilled with both the quality of our work, and the efficiency of the 3D process we put so much thought and time into developing. For our first foray into stereo 3D conversion we couldn’t have worked on a more exciting project!”
Bob Weinstein notes, ”We’re very pleased with the quality of 3D work Speedshape produced. We believe that they are at the forefront of the 3D field and look forward to working with them in the future.”
Shortly after work was completed on ‘Spy Kids,” the Weinstein Company entrusted Speedshape with creating the final 3D output, as well as all of the VFX for their upcoming film, ‘Piranha 3DD,’ a sequel to last summer’s blockbuster, which is currently in production and slated for released next summer.
“Although we just recently introduced our 3D conversion services to the feature film industry, our company has been winning awards for its visual effects almost since we opened our doors in 2003,” says Magnussen. “From the start, a key component of our business model was to building upon Speedshape’s reputation and skills in this arena to position our new division as a VFX resource for the movie industry. We’re thrilled that ‘Piranha 3DD’ is giving us the opportunity to showcase our CGI chops so early in the game.”
Spy Kids: All the Time in the World,’ is the story of a retired spy and new mother (played by Jessica Alba) who is drawn back into action along with her children and stepchildren, the now-grown-up original Spy Kids, to foil the maniacal Timekeeper (Jeremy Piven) plot to take over the world.
About SpeedShape/3D: Speedshape/3D is dedicated to converting traditional 2D imagery into extraordinary 3D films in a seamless one-stop creative environment, while providing filmmakers with a comprehensive roster of support services – from concept to completion. Our services include 2D-to-3D stereoscopic film conversion, visual effects sequencing, virtual environment and set extension, production supervision, on-site data acquisition and management and 3D visual effects design and concept development.
Speedshape/3D is a division of Speedshape, a multi award-winning CGI company, based in Detroit, Los Angeles and London that has built a reputation in the commercial arena for creating dynamic multi-layered visual effects that take photorealism to the next level. We bring that same passion and level of skill to crafting of 3D effects for the film genre.
For additional information about Speedshape/3D’s services contact Frank Rainone at 248.282.0200, or visit our website at www.speedshape.com.
CREDITS: Title: ‘Spy Kids: All the Time in the World’
PRODUCTION COMPANIES: - Trouble Maker Digital/Austin, TX Director: Robert Rodriguez Writer: Robert Rodriquez Producers: Robert Rodriquez, Elizabeth Avellan Director of Photography: Robert Rodriquez, Jimmy W. Lindsey
- The Weinstein Company/NY Executive Producers: Harvey Weinstein, Bob Weinstein
- Dimension Films/USA Executives In Charge of Production: Matthew Stein, Matthew Signer
3D STEREO COMPANY: - Speedshape/3D (Detroit/LA/NY/London) Executive Producer:Frank Rainone Producer/Head of Production:Mike Albert
EDITORIAL: Editor: Dan Zimmerman Additional Editor:Ian Silverstein
MUSIC: Music by:Robert Rodriguez + Carl Thiel