Mr Stink in 3D

Chief Technologist HD&3D

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Just for any new readers, I am head of technology for BBC HD & 3D and this is an update on the next phase of the BBC 3D trial. We have now moved from sport, music and animation to drama!

Mr Stink is a TV adaptation of the book by David Walliams. I won't give anything away in the post for those who love the book and for those who have never heard of it - just watch!

In this post I want to give you an overview of some the technology and processes used during the making of Mr Stink with comments from a few of the people involved.

Mr Stink transmits in 2D on BBC One & BBC One HD on Sunday 23 December at 6.30 and is repeated on Boxing Day at 12.40. The 3D transmission is on BBC HD on Sunday 23 December at 6.30 and shortly after on BBC iPlayer for seven days

Mr Stink (Hugh Bonneville) and Chloe (Nell Toger-Free) in Mr Stink

Mr Stink is the first programme we've done during the trial where the 2D and 3D versions were shot at the same time with the 2D being taken from one of the 3D cameras. The cameras were mounted on mirror rigs and for those interested in the details, these were a 3ality Technica Atom and a P+S TECHNIK Freestyle rig, each fitted with two RED Epic cameras and Angenieux Optimo matched lenses.

This is what Philipp Blaubach, the director of photography (DoP) working on Mr Stink, thought of idea to shoot in 3D:

It was a great opportunity for me to shoot a film that has been specifically designed for 3D. As a cinematographer it is a very different approach both logistically and creatively, and it was important in preproduction to work out the do's and don'ts. Having a close collaboration with the stereographer and the director meant we really embraced the strengths of 3D and found a visual style that works especially for this comedy genre. We liked slightly cartoonish and quirky compositions, like in the films of Wes Anderson or the Coen Brothers, and the fact that 3D works particularly well with wide angles even for close ups suited the style we were after perfectly.

One of the camera rigs with DoP Philipp Blaubach!

Chris Parks from Vision3 was the stereo supervisor on the programme and also commented;

The choice of rigs and cameras was determined by a number of factors. We wanted to be able to change setups quickly so we chose to use zooms as variable primes. We also wanted a reasonably small and light rig so we could be more mobile and wasn't too off-putting to actors. We also wanted it to be cost effective so that on certain days we could afford to bring in a second unit. The Atom allowed us to put on a larger mirror box so the DoP could use a 16mm lens with the Epic at five thousand. For monitoring we used a 46in JVC as we felt it was important for the director and DoP to be able to see the playback in as near to a real world situation as possible.

Mr Stink was framed for a wider aspect ratio than the normal 16:9. Philipp shot in the cinema aspect ratio that's sometimes referred to as 21:9 but more accurately it was actually 2.35:1. This gives black bars at the top and bottom that effectively become a new screen boundary. However as it's only an electronic boundary that allowed us to try some interesting effects.

Philipp said;

We composed the film for a 2.35 aspect ratio and during the depth grade there were a couple of instances where we could move the action into negative space and virtually make it overlap the letterbox. The 3D is especially effective in those moments as you feel the objects literally coming into your living room.

Framing for 2.35:1 (3D is displayed using anaglyph if anyone wants a quick preview but, the programme will not be transmitted in anaglyph).

As I said earlier the programme was shot using a single camera rig with an occasional second rig. This is different to the multi-camera set-ups we've used for the studio and live programmes that have been in the trail so far. This meant that instead of the stereographer adjusting each camera to match the 3D depth during the shoot, a 'depth grade' process was added to the final post-production stage.

Just like a colour matching or grading session that adjusts the colour and exposure of each shot to make them match, the depth grade matches the amount of 3D in each shot so there are no sudden jumps on shot changes.

Again for interest, the programme used the company ONSIGHT's 'Mistika' equipment to carry out the colour and depth grade with colourist David Gonzalez Lozano and Philipp Blaubach (the DoP) along with Matthew Smith who was the stereographer on the project working under Chris.

Matthew was responsible for the on-set Stereo 3D decisions working closely with the director and DoP and followed this through to the depth grading session during the final post-production.

The two TX lines

Mistika screen shot (3D is displayed as anaglyph if anyone wants a quick preview but remember the programme will not be transmitted in anaglyph).

The last time I saw the programme was just before the final colour and depth grading sessions, so I won't see the final results until it's transmitted.

As usual I am really keen to get your reactions to the programme and what you thought of the 3D but I will be away over Christmas and for a week in the New Year so replies to comments may not be prompt until I'm back around 8 or 9 January. In the mean time I wish you all a very, very merry Christmas and a happy new year - in advance!

Andy Quested is chief technologist HD & 3D, BBC Technology.

3D transmissions over the Christmas period:

Mr Stink 23 December 6.30pm
Killer Dinosaurs 25 December 2.05pm
The Queen 25th December 3.00pm

Remember to set your TV to Side by Side mode on the BBC HD Channel:

Freeview Channel 102
Freesat Channel 109
Sky Channel 169
YouView Channel 102
Virgin Channel 187

Read more about the making of Mr Stink in 3D on the About the BBC blog.

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