Jon Schnitzer continues his “Storm Surfers 3D” conversation on how to make a 3D documentary with Stereoscopic Supervisor Robert C Morton, Co-Director Chris Nelius and Editor Rodrigo Balart.
JS: How long did “Storm Surfers 3D” take to shoot?
RCM: The shoot went for five months. Between surf missions we shot the core documentary elements for the TV show and Feature film.
JS: Since alot of the crew were new to 3D what do they think of 3D now? Have they been converted?
RCM: Absolutely! Those who were new to 3D quickly understood what worked and what didn’t from both an aesthetic and technical perspective. I think for the most part it was not until after our first mission the crew began to see how 3D enhanced the experience.
Crew shout-out: Dave Mcguire (DOP), Dean Cropp (Water DOP) and Richard Kickbush (Rig technician, 1st AC).
JS: Who do you think would be or would’ve been a great 3D director? And why?
RCM: So many great Directors have already worked within the medium and created incredibly rich visual stories. Those living (who should direct in 3D) would be Christoper Nolan and Terry Gilliam. They would bring a unique visual experience to their storytelling using 3D. Nolan for his complex staging and large format approach to filmmaking and Gilliam for his visually surreal approach to storytelling. Those dead would be Sergio Leone and Stanley Kubrick for similar reasons. Leone for his epic storytelling, composition, spatial staging and camera moves. Kubrick because of his technical prowess in creating unique and memorable images.
DIRECTING in 3D: Chris Nelius, Co-Director of “Storm Surfers 3D”
JS: Chris, did you have to change your directing style for 3D? If so how?
CN: We had to throw out the rule book for current observational documentary coverage. Usually our DOP David Maguire would almost have free reign and be popping off shots all over the place throughout a scene if we were in 2D. In this film we had a prime lens! It was like going back and shooting doco (documentary) on film. It took a bit of getting used to all the tiny variables that can mess up a 3D shot. To his credit our Stereographer Rob Morton never backed down or got scared of us when he had to pipe up and say a shot was no good, it paid off in the end. But as they say, limitations force creativity and definitely produced a visual style to the film too.
JS: What was your biggest challenge of directing “Storm Surfers 3D” in 3D?
CN: It definitely made things way way harder. We are used to shooting observational documentary incredibly fast, because things happen fast. I’d say filming in 3D easily doubled the amount of prep time, stop and start and problems. Maybe triple! And that is nobodies fault, it is just where the technology was at at the time for us and our budget. Our camera dept were incredible. Hard working, patient, and really ready to try to please me and Justin as much as they could. The biggest thing is that now we see the final product we are blown away. It was worth every late night and early morning.
JS: Are you going to direct more 3D projects?
CN: Justin McMillian (Co-Director) and I are champions of 3D now. We will definitely do something else. Even outside of surfing. I think 3D was made for doco, and the world hasn’t even seen the beginning yet. Some people say 3D is dead. It’s just starting.
EDITING in 3D: Rodrigo Balart the Editor of “Storm Surfers 3D”
JS: How long did it take to edit?
RB: 6 months.
JS: Did you edit in 2D or in 3D?
RB: During editing I had the capability to switch between 2D and 3D. I prefer to assemble and cut in 2D as it would be very tiring to watch 3D for 10-12 hours a day. So I basically work in 2D until I’m pretty happy with a sequence, then I’ll review in 3D and make adjustments for stereo if necessary.
JS: How is editing a 3D project different from editing a 2D project?
RB: To be honest, apart from watching out for really bad convergence issues between cuts, there is no real difference cutting between 2D and 3D. At the end of the day, story and character and drama are still the most important things I’m concentrating on as an editor and these do not change because of the format. It’s like the difference between cutting a film in black and white versus colour, really. What is interesting is that 3D sometimes does give you an additional storytelling tool. I’m not talking about things flying out of the screen or using shots just because they look so cool in 3D, I’m talking about when 3D tells the story better than 2D.
JS: Did you have to make any editing decisions that you wouldn’t have made if it wasn’t a 3D movie?
RB: There are 2 moments I distinctly remember making storytelling editorial decisions because of the 3D. Ross’ handle cam wave at Shipsterns and Tom’s first wave at the South Coast Bombie off his board cam. Both times the shots were held in their entirety for the duration of the wave because the 3D made it the best way to tell the story at that point. With Tom’s wave, it was his first surf in the season, so using 3D to put the audience on that wave with him was important story-wise, so they could ride his elation and his triumph at that moment.