Why 3D?

I was asked to write a guest article for a new Filmmaker Magazine column called “Shooting with John” (a subtle knock-off of the classic/amazing “Fishing with John”) — the idea was to give a group of filmmakers an opportunity to talk about the why’s of making their relative art. So, naturally, I wrote about 3D. The multi-talented John Yost also produced a companion video piece where we shot skeet (with John… hence “Shooting with John”), which I’ve included at the end. Here’s the article’s original link. Enjoy!

John has graciously given me a chance to tell people why I do 3D, why I ACTUALLY do 3D, to write something beyond the technical babble that typically highlights any in-depth discussion of 3D or the snark that informs any “3D, Ugh” diatribe or the relative silence from my fellow indie community. I’ll do my best to talk about 3D in a way that I haven’t heard often… less a technical piece (or 3D ugh-fest), more an honest ramble on independent artistic creation. An ode, if you will.

It’s a shame to start like this, but to get it out of the way — I’ve written a bit about 3D haters before, and I know you’re out there. And I agree with you, sometimes: a lot of 3D sucks and a lot of it is gimmicky. But this isn’t an article about that, and so I’ll let my last public words on 3D act as primer. But in the spirit of openness, I also must admit that YOU have a large part to do with my drive, my need to make this happen. I want to win you over. I can’t speak for the other filmmaker/artists out there, but there’s a definite me-against-the-world thing going on: you face so much uncertainty, so many no’s, such long odds of actually creating your art in this industry, that one can’t help but build a selfish little bubble as a shield against That Which Doesn’t Matter (while it always kinda does). I’ve never quite understood anti-3D vitriol — lets all just make art, man — but the noise and the negative energy is real. I’ll nevertheless let my own positive energy be my guide and hopefully you’ll find reason to join me inside the bubble.

That being said, I’m in the thick of a multi-year transition into 3D art/photography/video… a kind of artistic paradigm shift. This is not to say that I’ve given up on 2D — I still love it, just like y’all — but it is to say that I’m all-in. I’ve been shooting exclusively in 3D for a couple years now (mostly stills, but I’ve got a ton of stuff being edited down for various projects and about a zillion GBs of 3D footage that you’ll probably never see). I’m still most definitely a youngster in the 3D game, but I’m going for it: I’m in the middle of helming an ambitious indie project called MAX & CHARLIE, a combined 3D feature film/3D graphic novel/3D video game, all built around the same surreal/magically-real “children’s story” that I wrote (we just finished the graphic novel’s oh-so-lovely rough draft; the film and video game are in pre-preproduction).

And so my life is literally entrenched in 3D: 2D to 3D conversions from this upcoming graphic novel cover my walls; cases of thousands — literally, thousands — of anaglyph 3D glasses are all around my room (among too many other things, I run a little goodwill biz called FREE 3D GLASSES DOT COM). I find anaglyph prints and 3D glasses everywhere in my life… crumpled pairs at the bottom of every bag, in my laundry, in the most random places you can imagine. This is all just to say that I’m about as deep into the 3D rabbit hole as an indie filmmaker/artist can be. 3D is my life right now… and yeah, that kinda weirds me out too.

Okay, so… why? Continue reading

#StaySkatin

↑ WATCH IN HD! A new camera test I shot/directed/produced with my friend Solomon Lang (@stayskatin, of Bustin Boards) and a few of his fellow Concrete Kings. I’ll have more on the production in an upcoming nofilmschool article, but this was basically just shot hanging out of a van with a demo Sony HXR-NX3D1U and a Steadicam Merlin.

This youtube render is a bit dark, but it looks great with some active shutters (a special pair of fancy 3D glasses). Stay tuned for the longer making of article on nofilmschool.com… and as always head over to free-3d-glasses.com if you need some 3D shades…

3D Haters Beware: Peeking Ahead to a 3D future

This entry is a guest post I wrote for nofilmschool.com; NoFilmSchool’s founder Koo is a frequent collaborator of mine and fellow co-creator of The West Side. If you haven’t yet, you should check out NoFilmSchool: it’s an invaluable resource for independent creatives and I promise you’ll find something rewarding.

This post is fundamentally a review of the twin-lens, 3D JVC GS-TD1 camcorder and so I’ll get it out of the way up front and say that I really liked this camera. A lot. For a two lens system, it’s incredibly small and durable, it makes a beautiful image, and is about as good as I could reasonably expect for 2011. Done! Okay, fine, I’ll go a bit more in-depth, but this won’t be an extremely technical rundown. For a more detailed technical rundown of the JVC camcorder, please see this perfectly fine summary of the nitty gritty.

One quick disclaimer: Koo was kind enough to help me help him help B&H (who was very kind in lending Koo/me the camera and the oh-so-sweet Steadicam Merlin to use in conjunction). I got to spend some quality time with the package in exchange for the words you now read (yes, it pays to be a co-Webby Award winner with my main man Koo; yeah, I’m that dude), but please rest assured that my critic’s impartiality has not been swayed by said schwag. But by all means, if you DO order this gear — or any gear — please go ahead and trust B&H with your business. They’ve got their game faces on. And you want game faces.

But lets push on: I’ll assume we haven’t met and I haven’t talked your ear off about how sweet 3D is, and how there’s just no way it can’t not be the future (or part of it!), so I’ll just say that I’m a big 3D nerd these days (I’m in preproduction on my debut feature film, which, you guessed it, will be in three-dee). I know that there are 3D haters out there because I’ve read your vitriol on this very blog and basically anywhere else someone mentions 3D. And it’s cool, 3D’s not for you. But I’m kind of into it (and I’m not a hater), so we’ll take your strangely passionate arguments as granted and move on to the “review.” Though despite and maybe because of this little jibe, I see it now: your comments crying foul, fad, glasses, agh! This really isn’t meant to be a polarizing article, just a few gentle anecdotes in the nofilmschool spirit of pushing things forward as independent content creators. If you’re interested, I quickly touch on the topic of 3D haters, and other things, in this little post relaunching my own 3D site, but again, it basically boils down to, “Hi Hater”). All jokes aside, what I mean to say is that there’s room for all of us in this independent community of ours; there’s too much actual BS in the world to wish for anything but your independent (2 or 3D) success and I’d hope the feeling’s fundamentally mutual, regardless of my dimension. Okay, 3D hater disclaimer over (for now)… Continue reading

MAX & CHARLIE short 3D demo

↑ Here’s a “short 3D demo” I recently made that highlights moments of the route my upcoming feature film MAX & CHARLIE will take through New York City. Quick disclaimer: this demo was made using a consumer-quality 3D camera (JVC GS-TD1) and in no way reflects the plot or eventual visual goal of MAX & CHARLIE. That said, it will give you a better idea that creating compelling (and unique) 3D is quickly becoming within the reach of a small guerrilla production. Please put on your 3D glasses and watch in the highest quality your computer and internet connection will allow…

Need 3D glasses? Visit free-3d-glasses.com and I’ll send you a free pair. Another disclaimer: I own the site. But real talk: there’s no hassle, no swindle, just free 3d shades. Sweet!

If this short demo whet your appetite, I strongly urge you two spend the twenty minutes watching this extended version. 3D is often more compelling with longer shots (that is, shots long enough to allow your eyes to focus and explore the visual planes), and there’s a lot of great stuff that might just blow your mind in this extended version. The same disclaimer as above applies (consumer camera, no plot, etc), though I’d additionally like to add that this is a mere “trim cut” and is thus somewhat rough around the edges. But I trust you’ll still enjoy the uniqueness and beauty.

Music is Clams Casino “All I Need” from his instrumental mixtape (unauthorized; sorry and thanks!). Google it and get it, it’s free and great.

And thanks again to Koo and B&H for hooking up the camera (and Steadicam Merlin). If you haven’t yet, peep nofilmschool.com; I’m positive you’ll find something rewarding (Koo is also my fellow co-creator of The West Side and 3rd Rail).

MAX & CHARLIE long 3D demo

↑ This is a very rough anaglyph 3D demo for my upcoming feature film project. It’s a long one, no doubt, but I think there’s some beauty in it, so please try to stick with me as I spin around through the city. A shorter (though still rough!) demo is available here.

That said, I’m still in preproduction on the film itself (shooting begins September 2011) and none of this footage will be in the actual film. This was merely a day of shooting the general path of my storyline on a JVC GS-TD1 (sweet little camera, no doubt; review coming soon). And yeah, I was just trying some different filters/effects (nothing too crazy).

And yes, I know it drags at points and I spin too much and the convergence is definitely off at times. Please forgive these shortcomings: again, this is a very loose trim cut (I wasn’t going for polish) and it has basically no storyline. Maybe it could… let me know if you want the dailies and I’d love to see your edit. Seriously, just ask…

Music by Shlohmo (unauthorized; sorry and thanks!), verbatim from the beginning of his XLR8R Podcast. Go get it, it’s free and really really good. And thanks Henry, I hope to pay you real money soon. For those that don’t know, check out the wedidit crew, they’re doing gooood things: wediditcollective.com

And thanks Koo and B&H for hooking up the camera (and Steadicam Merlin). If you haven’t yet, peep nofilmschool.com; I’m positive you’ll find something rewarding (Koo is also my fellow co-creator of The West Side and 3rd Rail).