Avid brings 3-D without blinders

New edit tool means more 3-D, less 'kludging'

“Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience” has earned the second-best opening weekend for a concert movie — right behind Hannah Montana’s own 3-D film a year ago. The feats are even more impressive when you consider that the films’ editors couldn’t always see what they were doing.

Michael Tronick cut the Jonas Brothers’ movie without the benefit of 3-D playback in his Avid.

“It would have been extremely useful to be able to look at an edit of a song immediately in 3-D,” he says. “It would have been a creative plus, and it would have taken away a lot of lab costs doing 3-D conforms.”

That makes this an auspicious moment for Avid Technology to announce the release of a new version of its popular Media Composer software, this one with built-in 3-D playback capability. The product streets today.

There’s no question that 3-D editing and post has long been a major headache. “Cutting 3-D is not like cutting 2-D twice,” says CEO Steve Schklair of 3ality Digital Systems, which pioneered digital 3-D post-production.

Schklair sayshis clients have long had to use workarounds for visual stereo, which made 3-D post a big question mark. When 3ality meets with studios about 3-D, Schklair says, they ask, “ ‘How do we guesstimate our post in this project?’ The whole goal of these tools is to give filmmakers more predictability.”

Without the added capability, conforming in 3-D meant sending a cut to a lab, waiting a few hours, then watching the result in a screening room. “You almost needed a dedicated person and a dedicated setup to do that,” says Charlotte Huggins, producer of the 3-D “Journey to the Center of the Earth.”

Now that Avid, like Quantel’s complementary color-correcting tool the Pablo, offers off-the-shelf products for stereoscopic 3-D, the barrier to entry for live-action 3-D is falling.

3-D post technology is evolving so quickly that most of the commercially available tools in the marketplace today weren’t available when “Journey” was in post.

“Journey” helmer Eric Brevig has seen demos of the new tools and says they remind him of “high-end versions of the thing we kludged together.”

Says Brevig, “There was a lot of kludging.”

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