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How to make a 3D movie: tips and tricks

With 3D TVs making their way into more and more homes around the country, what does it take to make a good 3D film as opposed to one that makes you feel sick?

Now that you've got your brand new 3D TV, it's time to think about exactly what content there is to watch. The major studios have got a small contingent of 3D films at your disposal and TV networks have also tried some limited 3D broadcasts. But what if this is not enough?

Barry Braverman
Barry Braverman (Credit: CBSi)

It is easier than ever for just about anyone to make 3D content with dedicated camcorders. It's also easier to make unwatchable 3D content.

Barry Braverman is a renowned cinematographer having worked on films such as The Darjeeling Express and for National Geographic and has branched out to teach aspiring film-makers how to make good 3D movies. He conducts a range of workshops around the world; here are some of his tips on making 3D films.

Don't think in 2D

One of the principle jobs of a cinematographer when making 2D films is to create the illusion of 3D in 2D space. Most of the time this is done by using texture and lighting accordingly to create the sense of a third dimension. In 3D, you don't force perspective because the scene is already in 3D. It's actually an advantage for film-makers to come to 3D fresh, without techniques of 2D in mind.

More focus is needed in 3D

The job of the cinematographer in 2D is to exclude elements from the frame that are not important to the story. In 3D we deal with a window — when you look out of a window, everything is generally in focus. So for 3D, you need a lot more depth of field and more focus.

Avoid bad 3D in-camera

3D is a trick; you rely on the viewer seeing two images and fusing them into one. So it doesn't take much for the film-maker to ruin that illusion. Bad 3D occurs when the left and right images are mismatched, which makes viewing uncomfortable. These mismatching issues include: parallax error in the left and right channels, where there is too much parallax outside an acceptable range; size differences in the left and right channels; window violations where objects coming in from the side of the frame appear incompatible with what's happening in the 3D world.

Panasonic AG-3DA1
(Credit: CBSi)

Many of these issues can be avoided using 3D camcorders that automatically adjust vertical gaps, such as the Panasonic AG-3DA1 (pictured above). As Braverman says, the best 3D is conservative: less really is more.

More tips and tricks can be found on Braverman's website. The video above is also part of CNET Australia's weekly video show, Pulse TV. Click here to watch the episode in full.