Travis Rice hiking up in the Kootenay Mountains Travis Rice hiking up in the Kootenay Mountains, British Columbia (© Red Bull Content Pool)

Ahead of the world premiere of The Art Of FLIGHT 3D at the San Sebastian Film Festival on September 28, Glen Ferris talks to Todd Cogan from Venture 3D about making Travis Rice’s extraordinary documentary even more spectacular…

The Art Of FLIGHT is a stunningly shot film with some incredible action in extraordinary environments - did that make it easier or harder to covert to 3D?
Both. Some of the action shots were extremely difficult because of the amount of loose snow that was flying through the air in the powder sequences or during the jumps. Whereas some of the vistas were slightly less challenging due to the limited foreground objects. Having said that, those easy vista shots would become very challenging when the perspective shifted if they were shot from an aircraft that was tracking an object or action.

How much of a challenge is it post-converting a movie to 3D?
It really depends on the shot… Some are easy and some aren’t. But it’s no more challenging than capturing a shot correctly in the field with a 3D rig. Each has its own set of challenges.

nullTravis Rice filming for Art of Flight in Jackson Hole (© Red Bull Content Pool)

In a nutshell, can you explain the process?
First we break down the shot to determine the number of layers that will be needed based on the subject matter, shot length and camera movement. Then the individual elements are rotoscoped out so that they can be manipulated independently. Next we apply depth and roundness to the individual elements using proprietary software and then we need to paint in the occlusions that were created by offsetting those objects as part of the depth process. Basically we round the objects and then shift them left and right to create the offset that would appear if you were in the position of the camera. Then we clean it up so that the viewer doesn’t know it’s been manipulated. Of course we take creative liberty to enhance things to help tell the story. Or if need be we take a more traditional VFX route and do a match movie with a virtual camera. There are multiple ways to tackle every shot depending on the circumstances.  
 
How did you get into the world of 3D?
I worked as an assistant to James Cameron after Titanic was released and basically became interested in 3D by proxy. In the spring of 2001 Jim and Vince Pace started experimenting and testing a 3D camera system labeled the RSC, Reality Camera System. I fell in love with the medium on that shoot and transitioned through the camera and editorial departments on both of Jim’s IMAX films, Ghosts Of The Abyss and Aliens Of The Deep. From there I ended up working at PACE and became the 3D camera producer on the 3D Hannah Montana and Jonas Brothers films and eventually worked for Michael Jackson on his concert experience that unfortunately never saw the light of day. After that I transitioned into the post production / conversion world but my stereoscopic knowledge is based off of my foundation with native 3D cameras that I picked up from Jim and Vince.
 
nullCurtis Morgan filming for Art of Flight in Jackson Hole (© Red Bull Content Pool)

You worked on the 3D conversion of Titanic, was it a scary challenge taking on one of the world’s most beloved films?
It was a pleasure to work with Jim on the conversion because he knows the medium better than anyone. He understands 3D and uses it to enhance the experience. Also, since Jim was very involved in the process and the conversion was done with his blessing I had a hunch it would be well received by the public.

Are you happy with your work on The Art Of FLIGHT 3D? Is there anything you wanted to but were unable to do?
I love it. I’m only disappointed that after all of the time I spent watching the footage frame by frame that I’m not able to ride more like Travis Rice.
 
nullTravis Rice during filming for Art Of Flight, in Revelstoke, British Columbia (© Red Bull Content Pool) 

What did director Curt Morgan and Travis Rice make of the conversion?
I believe they’re both extremely happy with the results. These guys know the footage very well and to hear them say that watching it in stereo 3D enhanced the experience was very rewarding for my team and I.

Sports-action films would appear to be perfectly suited to 3D, are there any such movies that you’d love to see with glasses?
I would like the glasses to go away but until then I’ll watch anything surf or snow-related. Those movies are usually shot from very long lens over a very long shooting schedule, which make them perfect candidates for conversion.
 

The Art Of FLIGHT 3D - along with Storm Surfers 3D - will form part of a very special event called Big Friday at the 2012 San Sebastian Film Festival. The incredible sport-action double bill will be held at the Antonio Elorza Velodrome on September 28, starting at 7.30pm.

 

 

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