Stereo D goes big with Quantel Pablo Rio
Stereo D was formed in 2009 by President, William Sherak to bring directors', cinematographers' and major motion picture studios' vision of 3D storytelling to the big screen. The studio was acquired in 2011 by Deluxe Entertainment Services Inc. and continues to provide end to end 3D production services on feature films, television productions and commercials.
Stereo D opened its doors with only 30 employees in 2009, but after a phenomenal demand for 3D conversions in the past four years, Stereo D has experienced explosive growth, now employs over 1000 people, split between its 70,000 square foot headquarters in Burbank, California; a newly opened studio in London; and its facility in Pune, India. Stereo D works with some of the biggest studios in the industry, including Twentieth Century Fox, Marvel Studios, Paramount and Universal.
"Over the past three years we have worked on 23 conversions - 27 by the end of 2013," says Sherak, "We've been thrilled to be working with some of the world's biggest directors, such as James Cameron, J.J. Abrams, Steven Spielberg, and Guillermo Del Toro."
3D movies have changed consumer movie-going habits significantly. In 2012, 48% of cinema goers watched at least one film in 3D, with 'The Avengers' earning an astonishing $623.4 million at the US/Canadian box office.
Sherak adds, "With releases such as 'Titanic 3D' and 'Jurassic Park 3D', the audience is only there to see the conversion; chances are they have already seen the film - it's all about the 3D."
Stereo D first purchased Quantel systems in 2010, choosing an iQ online finishing and DI system for post on 'Gulliver's Travels' and 'The Green Hornet'. It later added multiple Pablo 4K systems to its workflow.
Executive Vice President and Chief Creative Officer Aaron Parry says, "Quantel were the only company able to provide us with systems that could play 2K and 3D reliably and in-sync; we were able to do things that our competition couldn't. No one could do conforming, editorial, color correction and deliverables all in one box."
Stereo D now has a total of twelve Quantel color correction and finishing systems; three Pablo Rios, three Pablo 4Ks, four Pablo PAs and one iQ, as well as SynthIA, Quantel's new software package that provides professional high quality S3D interaxial adjustment for post. The Pablos, Pablo PAs and iQ run together on a giant Quantel GenePool, allowing the systems to share the same media at the same time across all the different suites.
"We're always looking into how we can move forward together with Quantel's R&D team. We can and do call Quantel's R&D Director, Simon Rogers, at any time to make suggestions; they are willing to listen and respond to their customer requirements," says Parry.
Choosing Pablo Rio
Stereo D was one of the first adopters of Quantel's brand new high-end color and finishing system, Pablo Rio, critically testing the system's beta version to ensure it matched the requirements of Quantel customers. Stereo D has had a Pablo Rio in-house since July 2012, adding two more early in 2013.
Head of Post Production at Stereo D, Milton Adamou says, "We have an advantage over our competition - it's Pablo Rio. It allows us to be much more interactive with our customers. We can make important creative choices with the director in house; it's just so quick and enables us to be more flexible for our clients' needs. For 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter', we did 175 shots on Pablo Rio in three weeks, it's really phenomenal. We have used others in the past, but where they took 20 minutes, Pablo Rio works only takes seconds - our clients are shocked by the speed."
"In only three years we're able to keep re-inventing our creative collaboration and delivery system with Quantel. Pablo Rio is realtime. Nothing else matters now - realtime is the only way forward. Pablo Rio gives us a solid backbone system and a phenomenal toolset, letting us loose creatively. Pablo Rio is efficient for the client and innate for the client."
"We're pioneers of the Quantel workflow; none of what we do at Stereo D would be possible without our Quantel infrastructure. At the moment we have three movies going through our workflow, putting between 100 and 500 shots in the GenePool a day; this is an extraordinary amount and really pushes our Quantel systems to their limits."
"We work in a fast-paced environment here at Stereo D. Our aim is to get shots in front of the filmmakers as fast and efficiently as possible. We have world-class directors in our theatres every week, sitting in front of the Pablos to make changes and see their final results. Previously, we would have to stop and lock the editing about two weeks before the film release. Now with the speed and agility of our Quantel systems, we are able to continue working right until the end - losing our safety net completely! If the director is in the room and he wants to experiment, we can make changes there and then - they're not going to wait!"
Go big or go home
Recently, Stereo D worked on Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures' 'Pacific Rim', one of 2013's biggest action movies. 'Pacific Rim' was shot on Red Epic at 2.5k, with 99% of shots converted at Stereo D. The film tells the story of a fight to save humanity between man-made robots and giant sea monsters.
Milton Adamou says, "A movie isn't about just the shots, it's about the continuity. Therefore we're usually involved right from the pitching stage of each movie so we know exactly what the producer is envisioning for the film. Guillermo was very much a hands-on director throughout the film. We love this as it allows us to be more detailed and client orientated. We offer an open approach to each movie, with a comfortable environment, where our directors, DOPs etc. can interact with the Stereo D editors.
"Guillermo Del Toro hadn't planned on converting the film to 3D, as it was shot using many difficult elements to convert, such as water, fire, snow and steam. One of our big challenges was to overcome issues of scale, as there was a high risk of miniaturization occurring. We had to consider the size and scale of the enormous creatures and robots as we didn't want things looking like toys next to them; we had to make sure the humans were kept in perspective," Adamou explains.
Speaking to Indiewire's Jordan Riefe, 'Pacific Rim' Director, Guillermo Del Toro, said, "I went to Stereo D and I gave them the most difficult shots in the movie. I told them turn them around in a week and make 'em perfect, and then I'll consider it [the post-conversion]. And they did." (http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsononhollywood/guillermo-del-toro-talks-rise-of-the-guardians-pacific-rim-dark-universe-and-other-new-projects?page=2)
Stereoscopic Online Editor at Stereo D, Greg Emerson, says, "Pacific Rim's slogan was 'Go big or go home', and that's exactly what we did - we had to go big. We never say no to a challenge; every job is different, but quality always comes out in the end. We wanted to make the film as true to life as possible, with a comfortable medium for audiences and we wanted the background to have substantial detail and clarity on the shots."
Heart and soul
Emerson continues, "'Pacific Rim' is just the start for Pablo Rio - it's an exciting time for us. Pablo Rio gives us a rapid dailies and a rapid conform speed, three times a day. We love the conform speed on the Rio, it's game-changing. We can conform hundreds of shots, for multiple movies, three to four times a day. We couldn't do what we do without Pablo Rio; it's the right way to do business. Our Quantel systems are our heart and soul - they have never let us down."
Stereo D's Quantel systems handle the conform, editing and deliverables, as well as running final stereo checks. Stereo D's remote sessions are conducted with its multiple Pablo PA assist stations in both Burbank and Pune.
"Our Quantel GenePool here at Stereo D is unique," says Adamou. We can make creative decisions on the fly, without transferring huge amounts of data. We can now do remote sessions with our Pablo PA at the director's house or on location - it's all about making it easier for the customer. Everything is accessible there and then, which is especially incredible considering the amount of data. We are able to seamlessly move between our NAS infrastructure and GenePool - it's all about space and time.