Wick recently suggested a post involving 3D and how it affects us as Dolly Grips. To be honest, I don't have that much experience with it. A couple of years ago, the powers that be on a series I was doing decided to that we should reshoot a scene we had already done from the current episode. Only we were going to redo it in 3D. So, all of us gathered on a Saturday to take a half-day seminar by the 3D techs (nerds) to better acquaint us with what was coming. I found the whole thing very interesting. We learned about "Convergence Points" and "Racking Convergence" and "Neutral Zones" and basically a lot of very compelling things with cool Star Trek names. I don't remember much of it at this point (let's be honest, my eyes started glazing over at the first mention of "points of convergence.") So we all learned a great deal about 3D, but I was concerned about the nuts and bolts, which would directly affect me.
I don't recall when exactly the shoot was, but I think it was after an intentionally short day. My first thought upon seeing the huge 3D rig was something along the lines of, "Oh $%&*." This thing was huge. It was a large red case of about 3' high by 2' wide. While interested, I was also wondering how I had suddenly stepped back into the 40's with blimped Mitchell cameras. I then began to consult with the director and operator about recreating the shots we had done in regular 2D a few days before. The first shot was a dolly through a doorway. And therein was the first snag. "Unless you want the lens at four feet high or take the top of the door out, we can't do it," I told the operator. So, we compromised. This was not the first compromise of the day. I then discovered that all the dance floor had to be double laid because the rig was so top heavy that every seam was transmitted through the arm, resulting in a dolly move not unlike what one would see while dollying on a dirt road or doing really bad handheld. So, we brought in more plywood. The next snag was when we needed to place the camera high and wide in a corner of the room. Again, the rig made it impossible to get high or wide enough to get the exact shot we needed. So we compromised. Later, we needed to go into low mode. I soon discovered that this doesn't work either without orienting the dolly the only way it will work, to the side, making the shot we wanted to do impossible because of the geography of the room. So we compromised. By the end of the day, we had spent at least seven hours reshooting a scene that took around four to shoot originally And I was exhausted from double laying everything and constantly redoing things which we discovered didn't work. "I don't know how anyone ever finishes one of these things," I thought. Then, I thought, it's just a different piece of equipment. You adapt. We've gotten so used to cameras and equipment that are streamlined for camera placement and movement, that you truly do have to put put yourself back in the age of Citizen Kane, when the cameras were huge, to make it work.
Again, this is only my short experience. After all the compromises, the final product, when I saw it, was extraordinary. It looked fantastic. But I don't think I would want to do it for four months.
Many of you have much more experience that I do with this technology. I know Gil has done at least one whole feature in 3D and many more of you probably have as well. What are your experiences? What tips can you give the rest of us?