3D film and television requires cutting edge technology - and local company Haptics is right up there with several world firsts in this area of technology. Indeed, their contribution to the

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Don Searll
FIFA 2010 World Cup Trophy tour, shot entirely in 3D, will be seen in over 85 countries worldwide.

 

Don Searll, acknowledged 3D expert and owner of Haptics, gives In Focus some background: "We did the worldwide promotion for the FIFA 2006 World Cup held in Germany. It was very successful. We also shot the World Cup in 3D, which was a world first, and we are using some of that material to produce part of the 2010 World Cup Trophy tour promo. We used a lot of new and revolutionary equipment for the 2006 shoot. All in all, that shoot enabled us to push the technology forward - from a Haptics' point of view anyway.

"For 2010, the call was for a dramatic live action shoot with actors and a sort of 'time machine'. We decided that the location was to be at Diepsloot. We wanted a typical dusty African type football field, together with kids who were playing football and messing with the time machine. The time machine was to be the vehicle that enabled us to present in the final film the historical FIFA material of all the World Cups since 1974, and the highlights associated with them."

Searll explains that the location and requirements meant they were again able to construct and push the technology. "We used RED cameras and constructed motorised rigs big enough and sturdy enough to support them, as well as housing them in a techno crane so we could do high and low shots of the football field that we shot on.

"We had other issues to deal with as well as we had 2 X 4k images from the REDS, and we also developed rigs for EX3's to take steadi-cam to the next level, so all in all it was a bit of a club sandwich. However, the nature of shooting today calls for multiple types of cameras and formats in order to achieve the required results," says Searll.

The 3D world today is a result of a huge amount of digital convergence which spans from acquisition through to post production and ultimately to projection/monitoring. The tipping point was certainly Avatar and was closely followed by huge announcements at CES this year, where all major manufacturers announced that 3D TV will be available from April. This was followed by all the major global networks, ESPN, SKY and others announcing 3D TV, together with Sony and FIFA announcing that they will be shooting the 2010 World Cup games in 3D.

"These big breakthroughs have been made possible by digital convergence. It's not an easy technology, but it is certainly a big step forward compared to trying to synchronise and match film cameras as one had to in the past," explains Searll.

"We've been doing 3D for 20 years. Over the last 10 years I have been developing what I call a 'TV swat team' - all 3D experts in their fields - and I am trying to keep the same team going forward. One of the key DOPs I have been working with is Dewald Aukema, who works out of the UK. We have a good rapport, and because we have shot a lot of 3D together he has a good understanding of what I require," he continues.

Haptics worked with Media Film Services on the shoot who were very helpful and went the extra mile. "The three day shoot in the informal settlement was tough as there is not much access to 1st world benefits, and here we are trying to shoot 4th world technology. We had an incredible crew who all pulled well together, and I believe we achieved fantastic results as a result of the teamwork," says Searll, adding: "I have a philosophy that everything that is captured is not just light and image, its energy, and when everyone is having a great time - that energy is captured too, and all the energy gets reflected back to the audience."

In post production, a proliferation of tools including Final Cut, Combustion, Maya, Max, and Nuke were used, and the audio was mixed in 5.1 - for 3D. "You need a more spatial sound so that you feel you are really there," he says.

The project was completed at the end of November 2009 for the FIFA 2010 World Cup Trophy tour, which started in December 2009 and will go all over the world and across Africa, covering 85 countries and ending in Cape Town.