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3ality Shoots U2 3D Feature Film

The high-definition 3D feature film U2 3D from directors Catherine Owens and Mark Pellington and directors of photography Peter Anderson (the 3D DP) and Tom Krueger rocked this year’s Cannes Film Festival. U2 3D production company 3ality Digital and technology company Assimilate teamed to bring the experience to the 2007 IBC audience. A 55-minute, three-song preview of U2 3D screened at IBC in September. Both this preview and the full-length version of the film were edited by Bluerock’s Olivier Wicki. The film’s opening title sequence, logo and movie poster were crafted by Spontaneous creative director John Leamy.

3ality’s stereoscopic 3D technology coupled with Assimilate’s Scratch real-time 3D data workflow and DI tool suite delivers a thrilling visual ride in which lead singer Bono reaches out toward the 3D camera and appears to step into the theater. U2 3D is scheduled for release to theaters this year.

The U2 3D concert film is the first non-IMAX project to be shot, edited and exhibited solely in 3D. Co-directors Catherine Owens and Mark Pellington pieced the feature-length film together from hundreds of hours of footage they shot of U2 at several South American shows during the band’s 2005-06 “Vertigo” tour.

The film’s producers from 3ality Digital Entertainment assembled nine Fusion 3D camera systems, the largest assemblage of 3D camera technology ever used for a single project, to film the band. Developed by Vincent Pace and Director James Cameron, each Fusion stereoscopic rig consists of two modified Sony HDC-F950 high-definition cameras mounted side by side, simultaneously recording left- and right-eye footage, as well as a complex set of software and servos that maintain appropriate intraocular distance for accurate 3D.

Between two and nine 3D camera rigs were set up at different positions around the stadium to capture the action both on the stage and in the audience. Cranes and dollies were provided by Chapman/Leonard Studio Equipment.

“The U2 3D film is so incredibly ‘live’ that you feel the rhythm and beat, the excitement of being at a live concert. It’s a blending of physics, creativity and 3D technology that delivers a thrilling rush to the audience,“ says 3ality CEO Steve Schklair.

Schklair explains that his company has created a 3D workflow that perfectly aligns footage recorded by the two separate digital cameras in the 3D rig. The 3D pipeline efficiently takes the video streams from the two cameras and manipulates them to become matched left- and right-eye data with appropriate convergence and intraocular distance. The technology also helps blend depth of field between scenes to make 3D viewing easier for audiences.

3ality Digital uses Assimilate Scratch software running on a BOXX workstation as the lynchpin of its real-time stereoscopic/3D digital workflow. On U2 3D, Scratch was used for conform, color grading, preview, dailies, playout, rough cuts and finishing.

Schklair says 3ality chose the Scratch DI software suite because of its ability to provide 3D screening directly from the system without additional processing. “With its speed, ease of use and quality results, Scratch enabled us to reduce the 3D post process from months or weeks to days or hours in numerous instances,” adds Schklair.

By using the dual DVI outputs on the Nvidia Quadro FX cards and the functionality of Scratch CONstruct, 3ality created a timeline with right-eye material on one layer and left-eye material on another. The two clips were edited as a single instance; color grading and other effects were easily applied and copied. Once the editorial fine-tuning and color grading were applied, the dual-stream stereo imagery was output directly from Scratch to the screen for review by the directors of photography, directors and client.