Stereo Conversion, Visual Effects
Stereo Conversion Artist
So what the heck is stereo conversion? Essentially, when 3D films are made, or “stereo” films, they are generally produced in one of two ways. In the first method, the filmmakers painstakingly align two physical cameras to capture all the action happening in front of them. This will look more “correct” because it was captured with one set of images per eye, but the downside is that changing the “disparity” or 3D effect later in editing can be difficult.
The second method is called stereo conversion, where artists recreate the shot by separating out the foreground, midground and background elements in order to artificially generate the disparity.
This is also painstaking, however the benefits are enormous. The director can instantly decide how far the disparity needs to be in post-production, and they can even create disparity in impossible shots that are jam packed with explosions and visual effects (think Marvel movies). My responsibility was to take the different elements that were filmed, help place them in the correct 3D space, and then tweak the final shot so that it looked like it was filmed originally in stereo.
These were some of the projects I’m happy to have been involved with during my time at Gener8 Digital Media.
Visual Effects Compositor
A digital compositor is someone who has to deliver the final visual effects shot. After all of the computer generated effects have been created, after the greenscreen shots have been filmed, the compositor receives dozens and dozens of key elements that all have to be blended seamlessly together to make a shot work and look “real.”
Real is such a nebulous concept – many an effects artist has been driven crazy by a producer asking for some shot to look more “real” because something just doesn’t look right. And often, it’s the result of thousands of hours and hundreds of small, visual tweaks that contribute to a shot finally looking good enough to be displayed on the big screen. Things like motion blur, grain and colour correction all have to be delicately incorporated into a sequence in order for the casual audience goer to believe that what they are seeing was shot in camera.
Not all effects are meant to wow the audience however. Sometimes they are invisible, like removing wires from stuntmen, or swapping out the clear blue sky with foreboding storm clouds. Often these shots are the most difficult, because they don’t want to draw attention to themselves. But when done well, knowing the audience is completely unaware can be the greatest accomplishment in selling these types of effects.
At Anthem, Lux and Zoic, I had the opportunity to create visual effects for several Vancouver-based television series, including Eureka and Sanctuary. These experiences helped me hone my craft and improve my skills with visual effect software.