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3D Lion King 3D: How it was converted to 3D

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Adam Gregorich, Sep 8, 2011.

  1. Adam Gregorich

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    AN INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT NEUMAN, STEREOGRAPHER ON THE LION KING 3D


    How do you take a hand-drawn animated Disney classic like The Lion King and turn it into a 3D masterpiece? We talk to Disney Stereographer Robert Neuman to find out…



    How long has 3D cinema been around?

    We all know that 2D cinema has a rich history spanning more than a century, but 3D cinema has been around much longer than most people think. Back in the 1930s, the Lumiere brothers – who invented film – remade one of their features in 3D. They were convinced that 3D was going to be the next evolution in storytelling, but it didn’t catch on in that period of history. This means that 3D cinema has been around for nearly 80 years, but thankfully we’ve now gone past the gimmick stage. Today we’re ready to use 3D in order to tell a better story.



    What does 3D add to an animated movie like The Lion King?

    From my standpoint as a filmmaker, the most important aspect of a movie is the story. I knew we could add something to the storytelling of The Lion King with 3D. If we couldn’t use 3D to enhance the story, I wouldn’t be interested in the project. However, I knew we could take a classic and plus it – and I think that’s exactly what we’ve done with The Lion King 3D.



    What does the job of Stereographer entail?

    As Stereographer on The Lion King 3D, I’m responsible for all of the 3D aspects of cinematography. I designed the 3D look of the film, which involved working out how the characters were going to look in 3D, as well as what was going to move back into the screen and what was going to come out of the screen when you watch it in 3D. I also had to come up with a way to use depth to enhance the storytelling, which was of paramount importance.



    How do you use depth as a storytelling tool?

    The way I approach depth on the movie is to create a depth score, which is a similar process to the way that a film composer creates a musical score. A film composer uses the rises and falls of the score to echo the emotional content of the film. I try to do the same thing with depth in the movie.



    How did you achieve that with The Lion King?

    To do this with depth, I created a chart by going over the story of the film. I quantified the chart from a scale of one to ten. At a level of one would be a scene that has very low emotional content, for example an expositional scene. At a level of ten would be a big emotional moment in the movie, a big action sequence or a climatic action point. The chart is called my ‘depth script’



    What do you do with the depth script?

    I equate stereoscopic depth to emotional depth. In other words, the shots in the depth script with a value of one get the minimum amount of depth. We’d pull out all the stops on shots with a value of ten by using as much depth as possible. Additionally, if there’s a scene where we’re supposed to feel detached from a character, then I put the character further back into the background. If we’re supposed to feel connected to a character, I bring them further forward. In this way, we’re not using 3D randomly. We’re using 3D as part of the narrative.




    This is an example of a 3D Depth Map created by Robert Neuman, the 3D Stereographer on the film. Positive numbers refer to the amount of pixels the image will come out of the screen and negative numbers refer to the amount of pixels the image will go deeper into the screen, creating the 3D depth.



    Is a Stereographer responsible for anything else in a movie?

    I also spend a lot of time researching viewer comfort. There have been plenty of 3D movies that don’t consider viewing comfort when they are made. They don’t maintain depth continuity to ensure a great viewing experience, but that was extremely important to us. I wanted to make sure that the viewer would be comfortable and that their eyes aren’t strained when they watch the action in 3D.



    How large was the team that worked on the conversion of The Lion King?

    A team of 60 artists worked on the project, alongside four Sequence Supervisors and myself, the Stereoscopic Supervisor. We divided the artists up into teams that would take on one sequence at a time. That way, we were able to ensure there was 3D continuity within that sequence.



    How long did it take to convert the movie into 3D?

    It took four months to complete the conversion. It was extremely challenging and a very busy four months, but we got there in the end. We couldn’t be more proud of the outcome.



    What was the first step in the conversion process?

    At the onset, our technology team had to de-archive the original movie. The Lion King was one of the first features created with a pioneering digital ink and paint system that Disney developed called CAPS. Before that, everything had been painted by hand and was photographed on multi-plane cameras. The technology team had to convert the old system into images that we could use. Once we had the images, we could start the conversion.



    What was the most difficult scene to convert into 3D?

    The wildebeest stampede was very difficult. There were a lot of effects elements in that sequence and there was an entire herd of wildebeest to deal with. We also discovered that some of the movie’s characters were more difficult than others. The idiosyncrasies of the design of the bird Zazu were challenging because he has very angular features in his beak, wings and tail. Angular details are more difficult to work with in comparison to the more rounded features of other characters, such as Simba or Mufasa. That was certainly a challenge, too.



    Is the same 3D version used in theaters and on Blu-Ray?

    It’s basically the same version; although we slide everything back a little for Blu-Ray because a television screen isn’t as big as a movie theater screen. We take the final images and slide them along by a few pixels. But other than that, everything is identical.



    How much input did the original filmmakers have into the 3D version?

    One of the great things about working on this project was the fact that we had access to the original filmmakers. The input we were able to get from the original directors, Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, and the producer, Don Hahn, was extremely reassuring. It was great to make sure that what we were implementing was their vision.



    Why did Disney decide to convert The Lion King into 3D?

    Why do this with such a great, classic film? In creating this 3D version, we’re creating a whole new art form, a whole new medium. You have all of the charm and the energy of the hand-drawn line that the original artists put down on paper, but there’s a tangibility that you usually only get out of something that has more dimensional framework. Let me give you an example… It feels like you can touch the characters in Toy Story because they’re starting from this truly dimensional framework. The Lion King 3D has the same characteristics. It has this tangibility, charm and, in my eyes, it has become a distinct form of animation. Even if you’ve seen the movie a hundred times, you’ll feel like you’re seeing it for the first time when you see it in 3D.



    Will we see more classic Disney animations in 3D?

    It’s certainly a possibility, but nothing has been decided yet. We have the technology available, but there are no specific plans to do anything else right now. Personally, I think it would be amazing to see something as vintage as Snow White come to life in 3D. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it happens one day soon – and that I get the opportunity to work on it.


    The Lion King 3D will be in theaters for a limited run on September 16th and is available on Blu-ray 3D on October 4th!


    Some additional images:





    The original 2D image.




    This is an example of a 3D Depth Map created by Robert Neuman, the 3D Stereographer on the film. Positive numbers refer to the amount of pixels the image will come out of the screen and negative numbers refer to the amount of pixels the image will go deeper into the screen, creating the 3D depth.




    Grey Scale – The final image in the computer representation of depth. Darker images will be furthest away, and lighter images will be closer to the viewer.




    The original 2D image.




    This is an example of a 3D Depth Map created by Robert Neuman, the 3D Stereographer on the film. Positive numbers refer to the amount of pixels the image will come out of the screen and negative numbers refer to the amount of pixels the image will go deeper into the screen, creating the 3D depth.




    Grey Scale – The final image in the computer representation of depth. Darker images will be furthest away, and lighter images will be closer to the viewer.
     
  2. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Insider
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    I look forward to seeing what they've done, this will be interesting. Just a correction to his comment about 3-D movies going back to the 1930's. The first demonstrations were done in 1915. Here's an excellent factual article by Daniel L Symmes: http://www.3dmovingpictures.com/beginning.html Bob Furmanek 3-D Film Preservation Fund http://www.3dfilmpf.org/
     
  3. Phoebus

    Phoebus Well-Known Member

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    One thing I've noted when digitally home projecting Disney features from that period: Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin etc. is the astonishing colour palette being utilised. I say this only from watching the dvds - I am holding out for the 3D Beauty and the Beast so I've refrained from purchasing it on Bluray to date. Whoever the individual or team were behind the use of colour at that time, I can only say as a casual viewer that I'm amazed when watching through the light of a projector, things I would barely notice on a TV screen. I am so fussy about the effect of colour upon me when I project movies, that I am more than delighted when I'm amazed by the use of colour on any movie project. Being a child of the 1960's I was brought up on b/w tv at home and ravishing colour at the cinema. This should explain my feelings here - I feel like a proud father when my inner child is feeling that wow factor again, a proud remembrance of 1960's cinema.
     
  4. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Well-Known Member
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    Thanks for providing this interview, Adam. It will be very interesting to see the results.
     
  5. Brisby

    Brisby Well-Known Member

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    I just hope the Blu-Ray will have the actual theatrical version.
     
  6. Adam Gregorich

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    The Blu-ray is coming in three flavors:





    All of them include the original version, the 4 and 8 disc versions add the 3D version, so if you don't want/need the 3D version you should be good with the 2 Disc version. This is a Diamond Series release for them, so I expect it to live up to their prior releases: Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, etc.
     
  7. cafink

    cafink Well-Known Member

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    A number of scenes (off the top of my head, the crocodiles during "Just Can't Wait to Be King" and the waterfall during "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," possibly one or two others) were re-animated for The Lion King's IMAX re-issue, which also included a new musical sequence ("Morning Report"). The DVD nominally included both versions, but even the "original" version on DVD contained the re-animated scenes. They only differed with respect to the new song. Like Robert, I hope the original version on the upcoming Blu-ray really is the original version this time. For that matter, how is "Morning Report" being handled on this Blu-ray? I'm guessing the 3D version will include it, but can we also watch it in 3D without it? What about the 2D version? Can we watch it both ways?
     
  8. Todd Erwin

    Todd Erwin Well-Known Member
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    Adam - I think what Brisby was referring to was the original theatrical release versus the IMAX Special Edition.

     
  9. Brisby

    Brisby Well-Known Member

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    This is correct. The newly-animated bits in the 2003[?] DVD looked horrible, and I hope we'll get the original theatrical cut this time. With Blu-Ray's seamless branching capabilities, there's no excuse not to.
     
  10. Adam Gregorich

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    Got it, I misunderstood. Let me do some digging...
     
  11. Brisby

    Brisby Well-Known Member

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    Also, has a list of the extra features been made available? I want to know if it's safe to unload my old DVD copy.
     
  12. Adam Gregorich

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    Not yet. It will probably be a while. Its a bit of an odd situation since it it being re-released theatrically. Disney doesn't want to promote the BD release too heavily until after the theatrical release starts.
     
  13. dmiller68

    dmiller68 Well-Known Member

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    Well this post convinced me to pre-order this for my wife she loves this movie.
     
  14. Adam Gregorich

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    I can't confirm special features, and I didn't bother asking about the 3D Blu-ray, but I did confirm that the 2D Blu-ray will be the original theatrical version NOT the IMAX Special Edition version.
     
  15. jschoey

    jschoey New Member

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    In that last depth map, why is simba and his family behind the sky? The sky is a lighter shade, therefore infront of the main characters? Thats a mistake, hopefully not carried into the film, unless they intended this, although it would make no sense if they did.
     
  16. cafink

    cafink Well-Known Member

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    The previous DVD release contained a version of the movie that was referred to as the "original theatrical version," but it actually contained the new animation from the IMAX version, omitting only the new musical number. Do you know whether "the 2D Blu-ray will be the original theatrical version" means it REALLY will be the theatrical version this time, or merely the same "original" version we got on DVD?
     
  17. Brisby

    Brisby Well-Known Member

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    Saw the theatrical reissue today (in glorious 2D :P), and the altered animation in the "Can't Wait To Be King" number is still there. :( At least the end credits were the same as the original 1994 release.
     
  18. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    FXGuide has a similar interview (and the same images) about this process: http://www.fxguide.com/featured/the-lion-king-3d-in-depth-with-disney/ At first I was worried that they had stolen Adam's material (or vice versa LMAO!) but no, looking at them closely they are a bit different and take different tacks, so if you are interested check out their coverage too! They also have a video that is not included above.
     
  19. GregK

    GregK Well-Known Member

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    The theatrical re-release in 3-D has done quite well. #1 in the Box office for its second week: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/25/boxoffice-idUSS1E78M23320110925
     

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