Magazine article Screen International

Phil Oatley, Park Road Post Production

Magazine article Screen International

Phil Oatley, Park Road Post Production

Article excerpt

Park Road's head of tecnhology Phil Oatley talks about how 3D is evolving and the intricacies of the stereoscopic post process.

Based in Wellington, New Zealand, Park Road Post provides post-production services for film features. The company worked on last year's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, with other credits including District 9 and The Last Samurai.

Phil Oatley has been the head of technology at Park Road Post Production since 2008. Originally hailing from the UK, Oatley began his career in post production systems and integration in Soho in 1997, before moving to New Zealand in 2003. He initially led Park Road's technical operations in the Digital Intermediate department, before being promoted to head of technology, overseeing all aspects of technology within the Sound and Picture departments,

How has the way that 3D is used in films changed over the past couple of years?

PO: Contemporary stereoscopic acquisition has continued to evolve as filmmakers become even more comfortable with the visual language of the medium.

With the advent of relatively easy digital 3D exhibition, and a clear audience appetite, there were undoubtedly some gimmick-driven stereo projects utilising negative space for an 'in-your-face' experience much like the most excessive of the less technically accomplished movies of the 1950s.

It wasn't natural 3D, and it wasn't always comfortable. There was - probably naturally - something of a swing in the other direction, towards very conservative stereo, which not only diminished the stereo effect but also diminished the value of using 3D for the cinema audience.

Throughout this natural 'settling in' period, great stereoscopic 3D work has continued to be produced. A technical and visual language with a deep understanding of creative depth continued to be promoted by teams like the one at Park Road. This rich and deep approach satisfies the sensation of depth and excitement alongside technical excellence and guarantees absolute comfort for audiences. Native stereo shoots (as opposed to post-converted work) continue to excel both at the top-end of acquisition and here in finishing.

What are the main differences between a 2D postproduction workflow and a 3D workflow?

The biggest difference between traditional 2D work, and Park Road's pipeline for 3D projects is during the preparatory stage where we undertake the technical stereoscopy, balancing the difference between left and right eyes, so that there is zero colour or geometric misalignment.

For those projects where we have provided stereo rushes and dailies we're actually a step ahead of the traditional online, because we have already completed a very usable stereo colour balance and geometric alignment, and this is carried as metadata directly into the online.

Then, of course, is the final creative convergence pass, where we adjust the depth placement during and between shots for the narrative drive in parallel with the final grade decisions (colour timing and stereoscopy need to work hand-in-hand). Again, we are always striving to achieve the best stereo expression while maintaining comfort; we never want any kind of audience fatigue.

What have been the biggest improvements in stereoscopic post production tools over the past couple of years?

Deploying SGO's Mistika DI system has been an amazing evolution in terms of the 3D toolset. It has made worrying about tough colour and geometric misalignments a thing of the past.

The ease and speed of their geometric toolset is astounding, but even more impressive is the optical flow colour balance tool: with this tool we have been able to fix even the most challenging of colour differences between left and right eyes. …

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