Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Gener8’s technology takes the guesswork out of 3D conversion

In the world of 3D conversion, Gener8 is at the top of its game.

Incorporated in February 2011, the stereoscopic 3D conversion company has become one of the few studios in the world capable of delivering stereo conversion for an entire feature-length film.
Gener8 was formed by media veterans who all come from technology/math/game creation backgrounds.

Gener8’s work includes top tier feature films such as 'The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader', 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2' and 'Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance'. Clients include Sony Pictures, Warner Bros, Twentieth Century Fox, Columbia Pictures and more.

The company’s goal from day one has been to make it easy for its clients to convert 2D films to high-quality 3D, and to create a “new category” in the 3D world around the art of creating virtual 3D.

To that end, Gener8’s G83D division uses its own stereoscopic 3D conversion system, which the company says can meet or beat natively-shot 3D - films shot with actual 2-lens camera rigs.

Conventional methods of conversion generally use a process called displacement mapping, a 2D technique where the outline of an object is used to push its shape forward in space, creating a pixel shift in the left and right eye.

Gener8’s COO, Tim Bennison, says the resulting 3D effect from the displacement method “...often appears embossed, similar to a popup book due to the inaccurate relationships in space between objects in the scene, and incorrect outlines around objects”.

Alternatively, Gener8’s technology allows G83D to reconstruct a virtual 3D set of the environment, actors and effects.

Next, G83D animates virtual stereo cameras and projects the original shot onto the virtual set.

The process begins with the creation of a virtual camera to match moves madeby the on-set camera. Static objects including buildings, parked cars and terrain are then positioned in 3D space using the virtual camera.

Bennison says that by sharing this virtual camera and reconstructed set with visual effects (VFX) vendors, G83D and the VFX vendors are able to work in parallel and share subsequent assets.

G83D’s rotomation process takes animated objects such as people and moving cars and animates them in 3D to match the movement in the shot.

Then, using Stereo Composer, G83D’s proprietary conversion software, a stereo virtual camera is constructed. The reconstructed set and rotomation are combined with the live action background and a new, left and right eye background is generated.

Finally, the virtual stereo camera and converted background are used by the VFX vendor to generate their computer generated (CG) elements in stereo and compose the final shot. 

G83D takes the guesswork out of spatial relationships and means that complex visual effects and hair shots have natural volume and depth, with no artifacts.

Bennison says the process seamlessly integrates with shots filmed using native stereo 3D camera rigs, providing filmmakers with far more flexibility in cases when shooting in native 3D isn't possible or shots need to be fixed.

The company says that even on a native 3D production, there is a need for conversion as in some cases there are physical limitations to where a stereo camera rig can fit. Other factors such as camera misalignment and lens mismatches can also compromise a finished product. 

Gener8 notes that VFX and G83D can work in parallel, giving directors more time to work without sacrificing 3D quality and resulting in higher quality while remaining more cost-effective

The company typically achieves 95 percent first-time shot approval rates, and its recent projects include 'The Amazing Spider-Man'.

Gener8 says it was asked to convert certain scenes and because of its reconstruction and projection method, the results “were indistinguishable” from the natively shot footage.

“Although Sony filmed it in native 3D, 'The Amazing Spider-Man' needed some scenes converted during post production,” says CEO Rory Armes.

“More important, Gener8's work on this film helped solidify our relationship with Sony.”

Prior to that, Gener8 had a hand in 'Prometheus', released in June, the prequel to the iconic 'Alien' movie.

The company notes that Prometheus was entirely shot in native 3D but a few shots needed some conversion, including VFX element conversion.

Looking ahead, because of the large volume of work coming in, starting in September Gener8 says it is working on an expansion plan for its studio to grow the company’s capacity.

Gener8’s reach is also expanding globally, having recently partnered with the Sahara conglomerate to create a 3D promotional trailer for 'Mr. India', one of the Indian film industry's biggest-ever blockbusters.

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