How Has Technology Has Influenced Film Industry

With the rise of 3D technology in filmmaking, many aspects of film production and film viewing are changing, not always by much but usually to a visible degree. Film industry employees at various levels and in a range of fields are affected to different extents. Special effects artists, cinematographers, and of course directors all have new techniques to learn. But what of crew members in other areas of production?

Despite the fact that shooting in 3D produces a different kind of material, editor Rodrigo Balart of upcoming 3D release Bait does not believe that 3D affects the central aspect of his work. This aspect, of course, is the story. The job of the editor, he feels, is to construct and maintain the narrative in a visually effective way. The work of adapting to the new type of film footage and the equipment needed to handle it has not interfered with his focus on sustaining the film’s drama.

Shooting a 3D film can be a cumbersome process, the cameras and rigging bulky and each angle and lens change inelegant and time-consuming. In comparison, Balart found the three-month editing stage to be relatively smooth. He spent this period at Blackmagic Design in Singapore using editing equipment that would display 2D and 3D versions of footage simultaneously. Balart worked by alternating between the two, doing his initial cuts on the 2D screen and then shifting his attention to the 3D screen for each re-cut.

Although this is only the second feature that Kimble Rendall has spent in the main director’s chair, his experience on the crew of an impressive list of action films including the Matrix franchise—on which he worked with Bait cinematographer Ross Emery—suggests he would be conscious of maintaining a thrilling pace, as is appropriate for a picture about a group of shoppers trapped in a shark-infested supermarket. This is one area in which a move to 3D is unlikely to make a significant difference, and Balart brought this priority to the cutting room.

Where 3D does make a difference is in bringing in the role of stereographer. The stereographer works with the cinematographer to make sure that camera shots, angles, movement, and so on will transfer comfortably into a 3D format. “Comfortably” does not mean a figurative comfort or smoothness alone (though it does include that) but a literal physical comfort, as poorly shot or edited 3D can cause strain on the eyes, especially when there are many fast cuts involved.

The issues to be aware of have to do with depth of field and the convergence point from shot to shot. The eye should be made to focus on the same point on the screen over a series of cuts so that it isn’t necessary to continually readjust for changes in depth and lateral movement. Without this attention to where the eye falls and the effort it takes to remain visually focused on the action, 3D would be harder on the eye to watch than the familiar 2D. With these concerns taken into account, editors like Balart are free to edit the film otherwise in the ways in which they are accustomed.

The last part of the process involved bringing the computer graphics sharks into the cut, a step that naturally dealt with some sophisticated 3D work. A shark film would need to have plenty of shots with the creatures jumping out toward the audience or passing suddenly and menacingly close by. Each of this type of cut is followed by a return to a normal dimensional plane, at which point Balart can declare his work complete.

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