USC to offer stereoscopic 3D program

Focus will be on using technology to tell stories

Stereoscopic 3D (S3D) technology has the potential to revolutionize the way movies are filmed much in the way the advent of color and sound did.

“If it’s well done, you forget there’s anything unusual about (S3D). It just broadens the gamut of what you can use to express things,” said USC professor Perry Hoberman.

Hoberman and Scott Fisher, chair of USC’s interactive media division, are setting up an interdisciplinary program at the School of Cinematic Arts that will address how the technology can be used in narrative-based production such as movies and scripted television, as well as in gaming and immersive media. According to Fisher, the program should commence next fall.

The program will have a strong research component to complement its classes, Fisher said. USC already collaborates with such industry partners as Sony, HP and EA on S3D and boasts many alums who are its boosters, including George Lucas, Randall Kleiser and faculty member Michael Peyser, who exec-produced last year’s “U2 3D” film.

Fisher said while the technology itself is undeniably important, the program will focus on developing its pictorial language.

“We have a good sense of the differences (between 2D and S3D), simple things like not making quick cuts between, say, a nearfield scene and a landscape because it hurts your eyes,” Fisher said. However, filmmakers are just beginning to test out such techniques as upping the perception of depth to heighten emotional impact, he said.

Visual media from cave paintings onward has, until now, always been two-dimensional, where composition and other pictorial tricks are used to give the illusion of 3D, Hoberman said.

“3D takes up that burden of creating space, so that you can have very different kinds of images and different kinds of visual styles that will work in 3D that wouldn’t have worked in 2D.”

Fisher said perhaps the most exciting part of the new program is the interest generated in Hollywood.

“We’re getting so many requests from industry to provide them with this kind of background in stereoscopic imaging because they’re making more and more films and need that kind of talent to move things forward,” he said.