— Daytime TV’s “The Rachael Ray Show” celebrated Halloween with a 3D extravaganza available to viewers with 3D glasses distributed by “TV Guide” magazine.
|Pee Wee Herman and Rachel Ray ham it up for 3D |
The entire production was shot in the 8,000 square foot studio on Sony BVP-900 and BVP-950 standard definition cameras, supplemented by outdoor shots and animation. 3-D Vision, a Westbury, NY-based provider of 3D production and conversion technology. converted the footage in the weeks leading up to the Oct. 29 broadcast.
“When the idea came up, we started to look at all the different options to doing it—bringing in specialized 3D cameras or conversion,” said the show’s director, Gene Bernard. His team decided on conversion, due to cost, time, flexibility, and space constraints. “We decided early on that we didn’t want to do the entire show in 3D because we didn’t want to alienate viewers who might not have the glasses.”
Ray’s signature cooking segments ran in their standard format. 3D elements included sight gags supplied by Ray, her husband and guests Pee-Wee Herman and magicians Penn & Teller, plus props and an entirely new Halloween-themed set.NEW TO 3D
“None of us worked in 3D before,” said Bernard. “And when we were shooting it we weren’t going to be able to make a judgment about the 3D quality of the image because we would be seeing it in 2D.”
The show’s production team worked with 3-D Vision from mid-August onward to fine tune the production; additional notes and tweaks were made during the conversion process.
The show itself was shot in one take (versus the usual two or three takes). The opening sequence (a dance number shot outside) and bumper shots were done later.
For Bernard and co-executive producer Joseph Freed, 3D was all about designing the shot to emphasize depth, using markers (props) and dynamic camera work that delineated foreground, middle and background layers.
“We used the jib and the Steadicam to move around the foreground object to the next object,” said Freed. For example, Rachel Ray’s entrance onto the set became a longer point of view shot, with the host walking past a tombstone and statue, then through cemetery gates and past a tree.
Other props included bubbles shot by a bubble gun, cards tossed toward the camera, and Pee-Wee swinging on a vine.POST PRODUCTION
3-D Vision used its patented “Auto 3D” process to convert the footage. According to CEO Gene Dolgoff, the process uses cues in the 2-dimensional images to create stereo pairs. Cues include factors such as, for example, how much one object covers (“occludes”) another. Equally important are the size, sharpness, color saturation, contrast and brightness that objects have relative to their depth from one another.
“As things get deeper, all those things decrease in a predictable way—you look at those factors as a guide to generate stereo pairs of pixels,” said Dolgoff. “The software, guided by an operator, automatically generates the second image and puts it at the right spacing through an editing program.”
|“Full-Color 3D” glasses were distributed via TV Guide in the weeks leading up to the broadcast. |
The files generated by Auto 3D software can be formatted for 3D-ready TV sets as well as standard sets that require glasses provided by another source. In this case, the format supported 3-D Vision’s “Full- Color 3D” glasses, which have a green left lens and a purple right lens. Dolgoff favors these colors over the traditional cyan and red because they optimize the brightness and color mix for the viewer.
“Only one set of colors will give you the color balance you need to have nearly equal brightness in the two eyes—imbalance creates eye strain,” he said. The green and purple lenses, he noted, also minimize overlap of television’s three basic colors (blue, green and red), which, in turn, minimizes ghosting. “We made narrower filters so that the glasses don’t transmit those overlapped wavelength areas.”TIME, COST & PAYBACK
Taping a show in studio takes roughly an hour to 90 minutes, according to Bernard, who adds that this show took at least six weeks of planning, plus three and a half for post production. Including the set dressing, conversion, and eye glasses, Bernard estimated that it was easily one of their more costly shows (Sara Lee sponsored the episode).
That said, both Bernard and Freed said the procedure they chose costs less in terms of time, money and manpower than the alternatives for 3D. Dolgoff also noted the increased flexibility afforded by conversion.