Swift 3-D turnaround gives 'Hannah' a happening feel

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When "Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour" opens Friday in digital 3-D, Disney will unveil a new movie, a pop-culture event -- and a preview of where 3-D is heading.

Sure, the one-week-only engagement is contributing to the substantial buzz surrounding digital 3-D movies. But more notably, this film demonstrates that coverage of events -- while they are still events -- could be the next big application for the format.

The concert film was lensed in mid-November in Salt Lake City and posted in a remarkable 11 weeks, allowing the film to open one day after the tour wraps today in Miami and while interest in the tour remains high.

Also giving the film a news-event feel are timely behind-the-scenes interviews and coverage of concert ticket contests that are cut with the 12 numbers from the Salt Lake City performances.

"You're seeing some materials that are time-sensitive, and that's part of the story line and part of the excitement. Right now, she is a very hot ticket," says Vince Pace, as an executive producer on the feature who handled the stereoscopic 3-D via his Burbank-based 3-D company Pace.

An experienced team and new technology made the breakneck production and post schedule possible, says Bruce Hendricks, the film's director and president of physical production at Walt Disney Studios.

"Most importantly, I hired great people," he adds. "Vince has been working with Jim Cameron and developing stereoscopic cameras for I think the past seven years."

The "Hannah Montana" production was lensed using eight Pace 3-D camera systems, which are specially modified Sony digital cameras, recording to the HDCAM SR format. Vince Pace co-developed this leading 3-D camera system with Cameron, and the devices first were used on the helmer's 2002 3-D Imax film "Ghosts of the Abyss."

Oscar-winning editor Michael Tronick -- who recently earned an ACE nomination for "Hairspray" -- lent his expertise by cutting "Hannah Montana," which was accomplished on an Avid Adrenaline.

Color grading and finishing were handled at Burbank-based post house Fotokem using Quantel's Pablo finishing system with new 3-D software that was introduced to the market in September.

"It performed pretty much flawlessly," Hendricks says. "That made a huge difference because I could make a 2-D cut and review it in 3-D the next morning. They would work all night sometimes, but that was pretty critical. If I had delays there, it would have been very difficult to make the schedule."

He adds: "The entire postproduction crew, music people, everybody, was going seven days a week. We had a really remarkable group of dedicated professionals."

Hendricks says his aim was to focus on making a movie in terms of story and editing and not be intimidated by technology. He adds that some of his comfort with the format came from homework done over the years at the studio -- Disney has been pioneering the digital 3-D format with such releases as "Chicken Little" and "Meet the Robinsons." "Hannah Montana" happens to be the first live-action feature to open in digital 3-D.

3-D "events" are the next areas of exploration. As demonstrated with "Hannah Montana," technology has reached a point where a production can be completed in a timely fashion. Meanwhile, distribution techniques have emerged that could enable live-event broadcasts to digital theaters.

"It's very much in the near future," Hendricks says. "It is being worked on for sporting events. I could even see concerts where live 3-D is broadcast."
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