Bollywood stereoscopic 3D movies, a chance to do it right.


“Bollywood” while a disparaging term to some of the professionals in the Indian Film industry, has come to be recognized (and appreciated) as a style of film making. We use the term in this article not to ridicule, but hopefully to inspire the world’s largest movie making industry to prove that it can shine where Hollywood 3D seems to be foundering and is in danger of relegating 3D movies yet again as a fad.

With the success of the Indian Film industry’s first 3D movie Haunted, there is no doubt an explosion of “Bolly3D” to surface soon. Formula movie-making has it’s benefits after all, and Hollywood is also equally guilty of starting the trend with the in-famous Ca$h of the Titans.

Today, there are no experts in 3D movie making. The “textbooks” are a quick app or two in the form of stereoscopic 3D calculators carried on an iphone and sheepishly whipped out by every stereographer/DP on-location. These trendy devices also work as e-book readers where 3D is being studies on-the-fly by even self proclaimed experts.

This brings us back to the Indian Film industry. At least the behind-the-scenes professionals that are not the Show horses, but the raw talent that today powers Hollywood tent-pole productions, from high end VFX work to other labor intensive work such as rotoscopy, algorithm programming and such.

With 3D movie making, Bollywood can start off on an equal footing and on a level platform to advance the art of stereoscopic 3D movies…. if they want to.

(previz for Shekhar Kapur’s “Paani”)

Planning and Previz for a Bollywood Stereoscopic 3D movie:

The video above may not strictly qualify as a Bollywood title, as the Director is acclaimed for both Bollywood and Hollywood successes.

Yet in context to this article, it shows the meticulous attention to best practices that should be instituted when contemplating making a 3D movie. At Real Vision we have extolled the virtues of S3D previz and shot breakdown a number of times and cannot stress it enough.

Today, thanks to technology, 3D movie making can be virtually automated, with Stereoscopic 3D rigs that can put the mars rover remote navigation system to shame! Yet with all the bells and whistles, if there is no stereoscopic 3D talent and Directors and/or Cinematographers can’t “Think in 3D” the end result will not amount to much. The proof is in the current selection of movies playing out in cinemas which amount to not much more than 3D fodder for the expensive Digital Projection upgrades that have gone in place in Multiplexes.

Lessons that can be Learned from Shot Breakdowns for 3D movies:

In the case of the example used in this article…

  • The Director can visualize and gauge (if he so wishes) the Psychological impact that the 3D scene could have on the audience
  • Technical 3D Crew can judge whether the choice of Beamsplitter rig will fit through a given location.
  • Director can gauge where a smooth steadicam glide or more authentic POV shot would lend realism to a chase, and the possible implications and effects it will have on audiences senses.

  • VFX teams can strategize  and plan VFX shots and take into account additional considerations when doing green screen, and matchmoving in stereoscopic 3D.
  • Would there be a need to show rounded depth, would hyper stereo rear it’s head on multi-rigged sets? How “rounded” will the 3D look. These are not caveats of 3D movie making calling for 2d to 3D conversion, but actually golden opportunities that can lead the way in advancing the art of 3d movie making, that can be done right in Bollywood

While it is tempting to think that 3D is “complicated” and the exclusive domain of Hollywood, this is an overall wrong premise. The behind the scenes talent present in the Indian Film industry has never been truly given a chance to experiment locally.

Unfortunately in developing countries with upcoming media hubs such as those in South East Asia, The Middle East, and even the Indian Subcontinent, for some reason have an aversion to risk taking and lack a pioneering spirit to encourage indigenous talent.

The safety net of importing the talent always entices. What we would like to bring to the forefront here in this (op-ed?) article, is that at least in Stereoscopic 3D, for once… everyone is still learning, including Hollywood.

It would be a step in the right direction for Bollywood to amalgamate knowledge and not merely import  so called “3D expertise” , but instead nurture and encourage indigenous talent that perhaps leads the way in defining the Grammar and Language of 3D….just as Sanskrit once did.

Note: Some  original contributions to the Art of Stereoscopic 3D movie making, by the author.