First, to be honest I’ve given a lot of thought to giving up my multi perspective work for two perspective cinematography. Schlepping around a dozen or more cameras does get tiresome at times and the thought of only two… Naw, on second thought multi perspective is in my blood. But a little two camera work here and there makes for a nice diversion!
For those of you making 3D motion pictures, I have five tips for you to think about.
Eye tracking research shows that for any given scene, your audience has a lot more to look at and notice in 3D than they do with 2D. Especially when you have a larger depth of field people scan the background looking for things. Camera movement will emphasize objects behind the main object of interest especially if they have some amount of dimensionality like cars or boxes or people. Therefore, don’t be in a hurry. Linger about three times longer for a given scene than you would when shooting 2D. Your audience will appreciate it. Fast cuts are very disconcerting for 3D audiences. It is like yanking away a toy from a child before they are done looking at it. It doesn’t make them happy!
Don’t shake the camera. Spatial reality is MUCH stronger with 3D than with 2D and if your visual world is shaking and your body (specifically your inner ear) isn’t, then your audience will get queasy and might even puke! Forget about those Star Trek scenes with camera shake in 3D — unless you really WANT to make your audience sick. If you MUST shake the camera, make it very quick and follow up with a scene with ZERO camera movement.
Glide the camera left to right if the shot goes from a higher perspective to a lower perspective and glide the camera right to left if shooting from a lower perspective to a higher perspective. The brain responds better to clockwise motions, especially in 3D. A gliding motion adds motion parallax cues that heighten the 3D experience and help to offset conflicting 3D cues such as accommodation/vergence decoupling. (Don’t believe me? Ask any neuroscientist.)
Avoid crushed blacks and blown out whites. While artistic and cool when used for 2D work, you end up creating false context for 3D imagery. In the real world, our pupils change size to accommodate luminance changes. We don’t normally see crushed blacks or blown out whites and it wrecks havoc with maintaining binocular disparity and good vision fusion. It can be a great effect for 2D but it is not so great for 3D.
Keep your lenses CLEAN! Dust or moisture on one lens and not on the other lens or Dust on both lenses creates false binocular rivalry. This is a terrible thing to deal with in post and can ruin the whole shoot! Have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) when it comes to keeping your lenses in pristine condition. At times, the effect can go unnoticed initially. It is a danger that lurks in the shadows that can bite you in the rear end with a vengeance!
If you like these tips, or if you don’t like these tips, let me know! I’d love to hear from you in the comments.