Kallisti Media Produces 3D War of Wars
COW Library : Cinematography : Debra Kaufman : Kallisti Media Produces 3D War of Wars
Fought in France over several months in 1916, the Battle of the Somme was a long, very bloody battle that took the lives of one million soldiers. On the first day of the battle, the British marched straight into the line of fire of German machine guns, losing 58,000 men on the first day of the battle, still a military record. World War I left behind only a handful of newsreels but untold thousands of stereoscopic stills, taken by the British, French and German militaries.
Kallisti Media targets the educational and documentary market in museums, planetariums, domes and digital cinemas, creating films for immersive environments. "As a post person, I'm thrown a lot of different stuff," says Glawe. "The name of the game is flexibility. I might be working on a 2K 3D film and the next week I might have to reconform it for a dome or planetarium at 4K by 4K. The work has kept me on my toes and has been the most challenging thing I've ever done. I've utilized every tool in my toolbox and learned others."
War of Wars was constructed out of a pool of 10,000 stereographic images from WWI. "The first challenge was that we had thousands of these images and had to look at them all," says Glawe. The first step was to ingest/scan each photo's two-eye image. "We scanned images at very high resolution, in the ballpark of 16000x8000 for each two-eye card," says Glawe. "That amounted to an effective DPI of either 3200 or 4800, depending on the size of the original card or negative."
Next, Glawe logged, sorted and rated each of the images. "I had a list of more than 100 keywords," he explains. "I'd also give each image a rating of how much clean-up would be required, from 1 being the least and 5 being the most. Some of them were very, very challenging. I needed to do this because I tried to work from the images that didn't need as much restoration work. I also rated each image for how moving or compelling it was. In a couple of cases, there was an image that was so compelling we had to use it, even if it required a lot of restoration and clean-up."
"Before" sample. In some cases, there were images that were so compelling they had to use it, even if it required a lot of restoration and clean-up. Click image for larger view.
Restoration: "After" sample, beautifully restored, despite the extensive damage to the original. Click image for larger view.
"Adobe Bridge was very helpful in organizing this," he says. "I was able to sort by keywords so, for example, if I need a shot of a Zeppelin, I can type "Zeppelin" into Bridge and it'll bring up all those images. And I could sort those images in any way I wanted, for example, in order of cleanliness or how much restoration work is required or how compelling it was. Adobe Bridge was an indispensable tool. I can't think of any other way I could have organized so many images and then put my hands on one image so quickly."
Glawe also organized and supervised the restoration work, which was done by a team of eight Adobe Photoshop artists. The team cut the two-eye images into separate left and right eyes and then began cleanup. "Restoration for 3D is a whole different animal than 2D," he says. "For example, if you've got a 2D image and there's a spot on it, you can clone-brush that in Photoshop, borrowing from the pixels around it. But if you do that in 3D, you've created a difference between the two eyes, which causes the repaired portion of the image to float above or behind the depth plane. In a lot of 3D restoration work, you borrow from the other eye." In one example, in which a soldier has a scratch on his head in the left image, Glawe copied the entire head from the right eye and positioned in on top of the left-eye image, to minimize disruption of the 3D effect.
The beauty of the Cineform workflow is that Cineform Quicktimes are pretty much platform agnostic. Click image for larger view.
Glawe created 3D Cineform Quicktimes from left and right still images and set up a composition in Adobe After Effects where he would do a quick side-by-side. "Then I can output from After Effects via an AJA Kona 3 card to a 3D monitor," he says. "That way, when I paint in Photoshop and hit save, it automatically updates in After Effects and I'm able to see my changes. It's not quite real time, but it's pretty good. It's critical to be viewing in 3D while I'm reviewing the restoration work."
With this "down and dirty" alignment of the separate left and right images, Glawe also got a sense of the impact of the 3D. "Additional restoration challenges would also present themselves when I viewed the image in 3D for the first time," he adds.
Next, Glawe did a rough cut in Final Cut Pro 6 (he also has Avid Media Composer and Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 in his toolbox). "We were under a tight deadline for the original 13-minute version, and I am considerably faster in FCP 6," he says. "When I had a decent rough cut, I reconnected to the restored, cleaned-up 3D Cineform Quicktimes."
At this point, Glawe focused his attention on making all the fine-adjustments to alignment, geometry, color/exposure matching. The lack of color balancing disrupts a 3D effect, points out Glawe, who used After Effects to draw a soft mask around one portion of one eye and bring the brightness or exposure up or down to match the other eye. "There's a lot of masking of elements in any given photo," he says. "It was very painstaking work. I couldn't have done it without the team."
"The beauty of the Cineform workflow is that Cineform Quicktimes are pretty much platform agnostic," he says. "I can right-click on a Cineform Quicktime within FCP, select "Open In Editor" and First Light (Cineform's UI for making adjustments to 3D images) automatically opens with that clip loaded. Another important point is that Cineform stores all information about corrections as metadata. It is a completely non-destructive operation."
Next, Glawe uses the open source program OpenDCP to create a Digital Cinema Package (DCP). "It's pretty darn easy and inexpensive to find a real movie theatre that you can rent out," he says. "That's pretty critical for us. We're able to see what the film looks like projected and on the big screen. We can run the whole project twice in an hour. I take my Canon HV20 camera and give Jon [Kitzen] a laser pointer, shoot the screen and it records our audio. So I have an audio and visual record of Jon's comments about what's not right and what he wants. Even though it's not a high-end DI suite, I'm able to get a pretty good record of the work that needs to be done."
Restoration: "Before" sample, Click image for larger view.
Restoration: "After" sample, Click image for larger view.
In fact, the result -- War of Wars -- has already won awards, at the Dimension 3 Festival in Paris and the New Media Film Festival in Los Angeles. At the latter festival, Kallisti Media also won for another short film, Cosmic Journey 3D, about the Hubble Deep Space telescope and the Cassini probe which has taken imagery of Saturn and Jupiter. "We start with a neat 3D shot of the Shuttle taking off, and we fly by planets in our solar system and then go into deep space, utilizing images taken by the Hubble," says Glawe. "The images are high-res enough so that we can project it on a big screen and it looks really dynamic."
The interviews for this film were shot with the Meduza camera, and they were combined with a pool of images from the Hubble and some shuttle footage from NASA. "But there were some holes in the story, such as outer planets like Neptune and Uranus, that we created ourselves with a 2D images," says Glawe. "So I got to dabble a bit with 2D to 3D conversion. After Effects came to the rescue. You can take different image plates and arrange them in Z space, and I definitely made use of that. Relatively quickly, I could take a 2D star field image and create a decent moving 3D star field that the viewer moves through. That's pretty cool."
Glawe is awaiting his next adventure with Kallisti Media. "I love being challenged, and no two projects are the same," he says. "A lot of people are talking about 4K and that's wonderful. But my philosophy -- and I think Jon would agree -- is that pure resolution is only one part of the equation. What Kallisti Media is doing is creating new experiences. It is the interest of filmmakers and theatre owners to create experiences you can't get in the home."
One thing Glawe is clear about is that, in taking on these challenging new projects, he couldn't do it without the right software. "Adobe is the hero in this project," he says, referring to War of Wars.