The Conversion did work much better than many other converted films. This I do also attribute to the fact that there is the luxury of access to green screen layers and pristine "still life" in every frame, making roto work almost fool-proof.
The ultimate insult to the hard work put in by the Stop motion animators, Set Dressers, Costume Designers and Pupper makers, is to "convert" their work into stereoscopic 3D, and introduce anomalies and artifacts that were not present in reality!
(image credit: Disney)
Stop Motion Cinematography and Stereoscopic 3D:
I was asked by a student film-maker at my recent 3D production master-class during the AbuDhabi Film Festival, what I thought about Stop motion in 3D and Frankenweenie. As I’ve not seen any previous Burton Stop-motion film from start to finish (yes shame on me), I decided to see the movie today at the local Imax in Dubai.
Unlike in other countries, Sunday is the best day to go see a movie as you get the whole cinema to yourself. The Imax itself is well run, and 3D movies are bright and do not suffer the low brightness scourge that I hear about from many professionals in other countries.
I hope to make this a short concise review and do it from a stereoscopic 3D point of view… *
(image credit: Irish Times)
Stereoscopic 3D and Stop-motion: The mechanics of the medium.
This is the first time in a long time, that I had to remove my 3D glasses on many occasions during the film, not to study parallax, but to relieve my eyes. There were a few variables at play that caused this end result:
- Stop motion frame rate:
Many articles online state that the animation was done at 24fps (frames per second). To me it looked more like the “action” parts, ie actual armature moves from point A to B were done at about 10 to 15 frames and may then have been extrapolated to 24. I say this because of the disturbing effect that is visible in Stereoscopic 3d. This was noticeable on the dog’s tail wagging, and any scene where the characters legs were moving even at medium speed. Flailing arms also exhibited this disturbing effect.
Of course with the 3d glasses off, I did not suffer any of these side effects. It goes to show and prove the point of why High Frame Rate is desirable for Stereoscopic 3D movies (Live action movies)
In the case of stop motion, not much can be done, and stereo 3D will be a victim of the mechanics of the medium. This is understood, but probably a little bit of post processed motion blur on such shots (tail wagging) would have softened the harshness of the strobing in action shots as seen when the glasses were worn.
- Depth Budget Issues:
I’m always one for Creative use of the 3D budget on a per scene basis. This is not to be confused with me advocating fat and deep 3D. What I advocate is using the entire Depth Volume effectively on a per scene basis, neither too shallow (sissy 3D) or too large.
Frankenweenie had, to put it bluntly, misuse of 3D volume. While it was good to see the stereographer/s didn’t skimp on the 3D, they also layed it on a little too thick. *Now*, combine that with the strobing effect I described above, and it will become clearer why I had to remove my glasses from time to time so that I could defer any oncoming headache.
Some examples of mis-use of the stereo space: I recall one scene where the Science Professor’s head is thrust out (fits in well with the story scene), into negative screen space, yet the background of the 3D world; the black board in the classroom, is at Zero parallax. ie, it is at screen level.
Even though this is Imax where the norm was/is to shoot parallel… there is no reason why this converted film should not have sculpted depth properly on a scene basis. Other examples of somewhat un-orthodox positive parallax were a little too much, and again it stuck out, because it was also compounded by the strobing mechanics of the medium.
Let’s not forget that a majority of the audience would have a slightly smaller interocular than the average adult!
- The Franken3D Haircut: a.k.a no 3D headroom
- Stop Motion 2D to 3D Conversion:
- The hedges in the gardens around the houses were proper pruned miniature hedges on the set, not Boxed geometry approximations. This is what happens when converted to S3D
- The grass and flowers had detailing that were “squashed” unfortunately
- The torso of the science professor, was un-intentionally grotesque in many scenes due to 3D conversion. This was surely not a faithful replica of the actual puppet that was hand crafted.
- When the boy loses his dog and is being comforted in bed by his parents…the blanket, the boy and the puppet of his mother were all distorted.
One article states or at least gives the impression that the movie was made in 3D, and I quote from there:
- The Conversion did work much better than many other converted films. This I do also attribute to the fact that there is the luxury of access to green screen layers and pristine “still life” in every frame, making roto work almost fool-proof.
- The choice of Black and White. I enjoyed the film for this play on contrast rather than color. This is another reason why I believe that the 2D version would have been better and would have caused less fatigue.
- Predictable story, but it is meant for a younger audience and does allow to appreciate the craft and labor that went into making the action
- Exquisite attention to detail: Textures, models, sets… The film was a masterpiece in this regard, when so many films would today have been rendered completely in CG.
*edit: it wasn’t so short a review afterall.