'Glee' Movie Goes 3D with Cameron-Pace

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When Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy and Twentieth Century Fox Films decided to shoot a live-action 3D concert film based on Glee! Live! In Concert!, they turned to Cameron | Pace Group (CPG), the company behind the 3D Fusion camera system developed by co-founders James Cameron and Vince Pace.

The CPG 3D system has been used on features from Avatar to Transformers: Dark of the Moon, as well as 3D concert films including Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour and Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience.

In an conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, CPG co-chairman and CEO Vince Pace related that he views Glee: The 3D Concert Movie as another step toward marrying a 2D business model with 3D, as well as merging feature and broadcast production methodology--both of which many insiders believe is needed if 3D is to grow as an industry.

"The key for us is the business model," Pace said. "What we demonstrated with Fox is a business model that made sense cost wise and made sense for (creating) a quality project on a short post schedule."

Pace suggested that the budget was "probably 40% (lower) compared with (prior) concert films in the 3D world. We still have a little ways to go, but the delta between a 2D effort and a 3D effort is nowhere near what we had for something like Hannah or Jonas Brothers. I would say we still probably have to get it down to 30% to make it work for general production, where the delta is so close to 2D, you might as well shoot it in 3D.” (While Pace did not reveal the Glee budget, the Hannah Montana 3D concert film budget has been reported to be under $7 million.)

Directed by Kevin Tancharoen and produced by David Nicksay, the Glee movie features concert footage of the Glee cast members’ performances of select series’ season one and two musical numbers. It was lensed on June 16 and 17 at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, NJ (just outside New York), and opens in theaters on August 12.

Director of photography Glen MacPherson selected seven Fusion 3D rigs (a rig is used to hold and position two cameras in order to capture a left eye and right eye image for 3D), which were used with everything from a Cablecam to a Steadicam and Technocrane. According to Pace, the rigs for this production held primarily a combination of Arri Alexa and Red Epic digital cameras.

"One of the biggest challenges that we were able to overcome was the way these cameras are handled in a live production environment (compared with a feature shoot)," Pace explained. "The infrastructure of (CPG’s mobile 3D production truck) had to accommodate the multiple camera formats and process them as a single format. That is not common in the broadcast world." To do this, CPG implemented new technologies in their truck.

One new piece of gear in the infrastructure is a Kayenne Video Production Center production switcher from broadcast equipment maker Grass Valley. This enabled the team to create a 'line cut'--which Pace explained is essentially a rough cut that is created live and used to capture the energy at the time of the performance.

Pace suggested that this line cut gave postproduction a starting point that helped the team to complete the movie on a tight six-week post schedule. The Kayenne will be used  by CPG for switching on future live 3D broadcasts, as well as for productions such as 3D concert movies.

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never opened in theaters on Feb. 11 and grossed more than $98 million worldwide.

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