Shooting VistaVision for IMAX 3-D with the Gemini 3D Camera

Posted on July 12th, 2009 in Hardware, Technical by Marc Bourbonnais

Last month I had the opportunity of supervising the VFX of a one-day shoot. It is a teaser trailer we are working on at Modus. The trailer is for a large format 3-D feature, and the 1.5 minute teaser is produced to help build momentum as the larger project is in development.

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For this work the camera used was the custom-built Gemini 3D Camera, a remarkable piece of machinery. The camera uses standard 35mm film in VistaVision format, enabling easy film scanning at 4K and 8K resolution. I never thought I would see, let alone work with VistaVision scans in my career… The use of this format is a very inexpensive and productive solution. You get very detailed scans from 24mm x 36mm images without the hassle and costs of 70mm prints.

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The camera itself is very small and light weight. It is rather loud when the dual reels are rolling; that being said, I’m more used to quiet HD shoots. A series of pre-packaged twin lenses are ready to be fitted, it takes a couple of minutes. It was brought in by its creator, Sean MacLeod Phillips who was on set as Director of Photography.

Most of the shooting was handled with parallel lenses, with some specific shots in convergence. My experience with stereoscopic work was always with convergent cameras, it will be interesting to compare the results. The scans are already prepped at Modus, a good test of pipeline workflow for large 4K and 8K images; doubling the data for stereoscopy is like two cherries on top.



More Red Madness

Posted on November 14th, 2008 in Hardware, Technical by Marc Bourbonnais

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A very heavy announcement from Red today; so much information, hardware and new benchmarks that it’s hard to digest…
… Images in 6K, from a full 35mm sensor size at 100 fps.
… IMAX size sensors for 9K plates recording at 500 MB/sec.
… 28K images !
All this with modular camera gear.
More details at the Red website.



Happy Birthday Modus !

Posted on August 8th, 2008 in Hardware, Entrepreneurship, The Company by Marc Bourbonnais

Last week was our first anniversary! Modus was born on paper July 27th, 2007. On August 1st, we were signing the lease for the huge space that became our new studios.

Where we are after our first steps:

  • Our indoor setup is not totally complete, we have to work with our production schedules. Keeping track of our electrical needs is a challenge, with hardware getting in at a fast pace. Extension cords are a start-up company’s best friends.
  • There are 30 of us now working full time. Our original goal was to have 25 people up and running during the first year, so we’re on track.
  • With a few smaller projects, we are working on three features that are spread over 8 months.  Getting these bigger projects on board took a bit longer than expected, but we got up to speed very quickly.
  • Our start-up financing is finally all spent. It was quite hard to make all our investment funds working together, with our financial partners having very different calendars and methods. We are now in our 2nd wave of financing to continue our growth.

With a year in business behind us, 30 employees and a good amount of production in our studios, we’re definitely not a start-up anymore. Modus is now a real (albeit young) business. Thanks everyone for your support and encouragements!

Next post will be from Siggraph 2008 in Los Angeles!



Buying equipment

Posted on August 16th, 2007 in Hardware, Software, The Company by Marc Bourbonnais

Space Ace was asking a couple of weeks ago about the gear we will have to buy in our start-up. I won’t go in the details just yet since we are currently shopping around and going through sales quotes. A few things I can mention about financing and buying equipment:

Everything has to be in the business plan. Your business plan will go through the hands of bankers, investors and partners. They WILL check up on you. So if you forgot to put in those high-end ergonomic chairs, you’ll have to explain why you need to modify your initial budget for twenty 800$ chairs. Be realistic, right from the start. You’re better off with a high start-up cost than looking like someone that did not plan your business start-up properly.

Make sure you’re reasonable about the time you need to pay off your hardware. Accountants will try to write off your hardware in about five years. In this biz we all know our computers are obsolete after a year or two. You can stretch your early loans in five years, but think about the hardware you’ll have to upgrade or replace after two years.

You will not be able to rent hardware until you have good credit. Your corporation is a week old and you want to lease 20 high-end workstations? Good luck.

… but the good news is: Material goods are the easiest costs to finance. Since they are sizable assets, your creditors can take it back if you tank. (But you won’t!) Your interest rate will be lower because the risk is low.

Show you are flexible and your creditors will be happy. I’m not saying you should overshoot just to lower your costs, but if you have a backup plan or a step-by-step scheme for buying equipment, you’ll have a better chance at financing. Creditors like milestones and would rather give money in several amounts over a period of time. 



Siggraph 2007 : Day 2

Posted on August 8th, 2007 in Hardware, Software, CG Community by Marc Bourbonnais

I spent the full day on the exhibition floor, and it should be the same tomorrow. I have to at least visit all the major 3D and 2D booths, and checking out what’s new with motion capture, 3D scanning and other stuff. I’ll post a recap later. Conversations start really quickly when you have “President” written on your badge. I miss going to the conferences, but I’ve got new priorities.

In the evening I attended the Softimage User Group, in the very slick Spreckels Theatre. My ex-employer Hybride was doing a presentation with Chris Watts, the VFX Sup from ‘300’. Hats off to Daniel and Joseph, I know the amount of work involved.  This was the first time I took part in a Hybride presentation… in the audience. I was the unofficial conference speaker back in the days. Times a-changin’.

 I had a choice of 4 parties afterwards; that’s the reward for spending time with vendors all day. Siggraph is all about scheduling conflicts anyway. I decided to check out the one closest to my hotel. The lack of sleep is starting to catch up and Siggraph is not over yet



Siggraph 2007 : Day 1.5

Posted on August 7th, 2007 in Hardware, Software, CG Community by Marc Bourbonnais

Even though I do not have a full conference pass, I’ve had plenty to do during my first 1.5 days at Sigg. The night before my trip to San Diego was rough; I had to finish all the paperwork for our corporate bank account and credit margin. I was all done at around 3:30 am. My plane was leaving Montreal at 7:30, so I had just enough time for a quick shower and a 30 minute “nap”. A night just like a prostproduction crunch.

 But now I’m here in beau-ti-ful San Diego. I spent Sunday afternoon walking around the Convention center meeting old friends. Most of them already knew all about our start-up thanks to this blog; the awesome feedback I keep getting never ceases to amaze me. Best wishes came from all around and my associates and I are thankful for all the encouragement we are receiving. It is quite clear we are on the right track.

 Monday started off with meeting software and hardware vendors so we can start working on quotes. It was great to meet a few of them before the hectic pace of the exhibition. As of now the only hardware we’re buying is…a fax machine, a printer and telephones, but in the next few weeks we’ll have to bring in workstations and servers.

 On Monday afternoon I attended the Softimage Research Summit to have a glimpse at what’s in the works with the fine folks at Soft. The Autodesk User Meet was next, followed by the incredible Autodesk Steel Beach party. An absolute blast, it had everything you need for a killer party: people by the thousands, free food, free booze, 360 flight simulators, music, go-go dancers… all on an aircraft carrier. I’m sure Autodesk, Café FX and their partners are more than happy with the turnout.

 Now I know why deep down inside I wanted to become an entrepreneur. To throw huge parties like that one.