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RSS Production Selected Mistika to create Impressive Stereo 3D Post Perfection in Russian War Epic "STALINGRAD" - in 3D and IMAX® 3D
Mistika's Award-Winning Stereo 3D Toolsets Helps to Deliver Larger-than-Life Historic Battle of Stalingrad Scenes to the Giant Screen - The first Russian Movie ever to be Completed for IMAX® 3D
POST PERSPECTIVE AT RSS PRODUCTION - STEREO 3D CORRECTIONS IN MISTIKA
Mistika was used throughout at RSS Production to achieve impressive results in painstakingly accurate detail that a project of this scale entails. Complex challenges that productions of this magnitude present in post were overcome with the talented artists using Mistika. The RSS team's brief was to "fix" many of the key elements in post where attention to detail was vital for the final delivery. In order to achieve the desired outcome, RSS Production also developed additional scripts with SGO for ultimate precision to accomplish the required results using Mistika's industry-leading toolsets. Lead by Post Production Producer at RSS Production, Alexander Dukhon and his dedicated and passionate Stereoscopic 3D Post Production team which included Mistika Operator and DI Specialist Daniel Ovrutskiy.
Alexander Dukhon explains "When we first laid eyes on the material, we were impressed with the DOP's work as well as that of all the artists involved. The textures were incredible, whether they were those of the surface of a wall, for example, or the face of the main character - they were so realistic and it looked tangible. Our job was to then work on the stereoscopic 3D elements with the given footage, which was really brilliant, but we had to work hard to bring it up to the required standards that large formats such as IMAX® 3D dictate."
With the innovative tools available for automatic Stereo 3D alignments in Mistika, Alexander and his team managed to build a very fast production process. The project was divided into several stages - firstly, rapidly aligning all the shots followed by then isolating specific challenging ones and switching to full manual mode, giving the team complete control over those images to work on. Alexander expands further "Using Mistika meant that we spent less time on the alignment phase of some scenes than the time required for copying and forwarding the material. Mistika's powerful tools allowed us to correct the serious polarisation artefacts and geometric distortions without destroying or affecting the image. We then received the ungraded materials in DPX 2K Log and we aligned the colour and polarisation issues, and were pleasantly surprised that even after a major colour grade of the corrected image, there were no colour misalignment and no need for fine-tuning at all thanks to Mistika."
Mistika Operator and DI Specialist Daniel Ovrutskiy who was fully responsible for the stereoscopic 3D in the project, devoting over 3 months to it, says "Mistika became a convergence point of all the hard work and experience that was put in the Stalingrad project by the amazing 3D professionals from all around the world. Being a part of the crew right from the start - from the shoot and learning from amazing stereographers Matt Blute and Nick Brown, allowed me to use this knowledge to enhance 3D quality of the film to the highest standard." He continues "It doesn't matter how good the team is, or how advanced the shooting technology is, you still have to adjust the 3D imagery to match the IMAX release quality it dictates, and Mistika's toolset enables you to do that in the shortest possible time."
SEEING EYE TO EYE WITH MISTIKA
Another Mistika Artist working on the 3D post with Daniel and the team at RSS Production was Alvaro Barrasa, who flew over from London to work on the mammoth project. Alvaro's initial challenge was coordinating changes on the Left Eye at that initial stage. He confirms "Mistika still enabled me to make simple fixes on the Left Eye and enabled easy access to choose between the eyes to facilitate the process which helped to speed things up considerably." Daniel elaborates further on the process "As we made the decision to work in parallel with the colour correction sessions, our colour matching fixes didn't affect what the colour grader had achieved because Mistika's exceptional 3D workflow allows you to modify only one eye, while there is work going on in parallel on the other which is highly time efficient."
MISTIKA'S COLOUR MATCHING TOOLS WERE FAST AND EASY TO USE
Daniel and the team at RSS Production were concerned about colour mismatches at the shooting phase of the production "We had massive polarisation and colour issues especially regarding the tank's metal plates, the soldier's helmets, water reflections, muzzle flashes and tons of non-matching lens flares. I was amazed as Mistika fixed 95% of those issues with literally one button!" For the more complex shots, Daniel used Mistika's node compositing toolset with rotoscoping which helped with tracking the challenging areas in order to fix the remaining issues. The post production team at RSS Production inherited all the usual challenges that arise in a Stereo production - colour and light being key factors to contend with in post, but they had full confidence in Mistika's world-leading features to flawlessly perfect them to the strictest exacting standards.
Working with Daniel and the team, Alvaro also used Mistika to colour-match shots, correct complicated polarisation issues and clean lens dirt that created colour mismatching in areas - he was able to resolve these issues effortlessly using Mistika. "Thanks to Mistika's powerful tools, these elements were pretty straightforward to rectify in post. I used Mistika's colour matching tool and its optical flow feature to match the complex polarisation issues. In some cases, I also created miniature compositions to match elements from one eye to the other which is a fairly fast process in Mistika and not as laborious as in other systems." confirms Alvaro.
MISTIKA'S MASTERFUL GEOMETRY-MATCHING TOOLS SAVED THE DAY
Geometry matching was one of the most complicated tasks the team faced. The IMAX® 3D delivery format dictated stringent exacting standards to adhere to, and so it was imperative that the geometry corrections were rigorously tested and precise. As with all Stereoscopic 3D footage, the team was confronted with the usual challenges that can arise such as size, rotation and keystone issues which Mistika is a master at solving. Daniel talks through the process "I used Mistika's automatic stereo alignment toolset as a basis for the geometry corrections, which already delivered very well even at that early stage. I then used Mistika's full manual mode and deep compositing toolset for the final stage, which enabled me to achieve alignments that were close to perfection, on incredibly complex shots that had keystoning, lens distortions, Y-shifts and perspective changes all at once. We had to fix more than 800 shots in just under 2 months on material that had several stereo misalignments, and with Mistika's help, I think we succeeded in bringing the best 3D possible to the audience."
Alvaro notes "These were really easy for us to fix using Mistika and we utilised the clever automatic and semi automatic tools that Mistika provides to solve the majority of our geometry work. Shear, scale X differences and non-linear wide lens distortions that created random Y shifts presented more demanding challenges which heavily relied on Mistika's high-end solutions to calculate, using the advanced optical flow-based pixel-by-pixel matching modes." One of the hidden strengths of Mistika is that although it provides incredibly powerful stereo matching tools, Mistika also allows the operator to combine any number of other effects in order to end up with perfect stereo matches.
MISTIKA IS KEY TO KEYSTONING CHALLENGES
Alvaro went on to describe some significant keystoning issues in both eyes that he had to tackle and how Mistika came to his rescue. "One particular challenging shot arose which involved facing an accumulation of various complex issues all at once. It would have been overwhelming had Mistika not been there to rely on. At first, I used the Stereo tool, then warped the image a fraction in order to optimise the optical flow and then I composited the elements accordingly to finally arrive at the best result. One tiny aberration or distortion on a monitor screen would be blatantly conspicuous on the giant IMAX screen, so we were extremely mindful of this throughout the entire process."
SIZEABLE CHALLENGES FIXED IN POST - IMAGE SIZE-MISMATCHING IS NO SWEAT FOR MISTIKA
Alvaro also worked on solving size mismatching issues that appeared on some of the corners of the image. He explained that it was almost impossible to detect some of the mismatches using the anaglyph mode so he had to conscientiously zoom-in considerably closely to the image, and exchange Left and Right Eyes in order to carefully locate the cause behind the phenomenon. He enthuses "Once the defect was localised, we then tackled that area and used a combination of Mistika's extraordinary optical flow, warping and compositing tools to perfect them seamlessly." Alvaro concludes "I am so proud to say that we achieved the best and highest quality results in all of the Stereo 3D shots we worked on in Stalingrad, and they were all on time - all thanks, once again, goes to Mistika's incredible and unique capabilities that contributed to making this possible."
DEPTH-GRADING IN MISTIKA AT THE TOUCH OF A BUTTON
As a final pass for the picture, Daniel accomplished an entire depth grading job, with post stereographer Nick Brown. "It was an amazing experience, as we were able to do all dynamic convergence pulls and animated floating windows for the whole 2 hour feature in just 5 days of work! It was almost too easy, because all we had to do was push Mistika's "AutoKey" button and make all creative decisions in a "click-to-converge-here" fashion." Daniel affirms.
STEREOSCOPIC 3D SHOOT ON GIANT SETS
Two RED EPIC cameras were used with 3ALITY digital rigs for the stereoscopic 3D shoot in 5K for post production in 3 formats: IMAX® 3D, S3D and 2D. Filming took place in autumn 2011 over 17 days where two key battle episodes were shot with 900 actors in crowd scenes. The shooting process commenced again from May 2012. Massive sets had to be constructed on an enormous scale on location in St. Petersburg where every detail was reproduced, such as recreated bombed-out buildings.
MISTIKA'S AWARD-WINNING TECHNOLOGY IS SUITABLE FOR FILM AND TELEVISION
As the cornerstone of many internationally acclaimed facilities and broadcasters, Mistika is a powerful post production system that encompasses colour grading, compositing and online finishing. It is capable of producing both 3D and 2D content and at any practical resolution including 4K and beyond, and is already capable of efficient file-based 8K workflows. Mistika's stereoscopic toolset is considered the most advanced available as SGO were early to note the challenges faced when post producing stereoscopic content. Mistika was key to enabling "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" to be post produced in high frame rate Stereo 3D for which SGO, as Leading Technology Partner, won the IBC 2013 Innovation Award with Park Road Post Production for the World's First HFR-S3D Post for The Hobbit Trilogy. SGO also won The International 3D and Advanced Imaging Society's Technology Lumière Award last month for its Mistika finishing and colour grading system, for advancements in Stereo 3D and specifically due to its impact and innovation in the industry.
MORE ON RSS PRODUCTION AND MISTIKA'S 3D REVOLUTIONARY ROLE IN RUSSIA
Moscow-based RSS Production invested in a Mistika system earlier this year to be used predominantly for colour grading in 2D and Stereo 3D work. Mistika was put straight to work on various projects already before work on the Stalingrad feature film commenced. The Company provides technical and creative expertise in 2D and Stereo 3D film and television productions for commercials and documentaries and they also specialise in delivering corporate media events.
Post Production Producer at RSS Production, Alexander Dukhon says "It is a very exciting time in Russia as Stereo 3D is only just developing and is still a very new format here but there is a growing demand for it, as audiences enjoy seeing the screen come alive in 3D. Producers are still afraid of the format and that is why our company aims to dispel the myths about 3D production with cutting edge and performance-leading technology, such as Mistika, for 3D shoots and post production. Mistika is widely recognised as the most advanced system out there for both 2D and S3D and ahead of its league and is the vanguard of quality 3D."
Alexander continues "We recently selected Mistika for its reliability and versatility - the fact it is one complete system appealed to us as we needed a product that could colour grade and also perform various functions in both 2D and 3D - having all these tools at our fingertips in one system was perfect for our needs. We are very proud of the results that Mistika delivered here at RSS on Stalingrad - our very first IMAX® 3D feature film production project and the system is a marvel and great investment for us. We would not have been able to manage without it on such a complex project. I also want to thank SGO's Jose Luis Acha and Mistika Operator Alvaro Barrasa who came over for a few weeks to help us at RSS Production."
Jose Luis Acha, Regional Sales Manager at SGO in Madrid states "It is exciting and rewarding to see RSS Production deliver a successful feature film project such as Stalingrad that involved Mistika. Russia's demand for emerging technologies will now rapidly increase and the timing was ideal for them to embrace Mistika's technology. We congratulate RSS Production on their incredible work and achievements on this ambitious Oscar-nominated project, and we hope further exciting work like this will be in the pipeline for them for many years to come - they always have SGO's full support as pioneers at the forefront of Russia's 3D revolution."
AN EPIC ACCOUNT
Stalingrad recounts the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942, a turning point in the Second World War. Soviet troops eventually won control of Nazi-occupied Stalingrad, now modern Volgograd. Produced by Non-Stop Production, a subsidiary of AR Films and Art Pictures Studio, Stalingrad is ultimately a love story that takes place in the middle of a brutal war. Action scenes in the movie depict German bomber planes flying directly at the audience and dramatically crashing in flames across the big screen. The Battle of Stalingrad lasted for months and the Russian victory in 1943 led the way for the Allied victory in World War II. Some of the cast includes Petr Fedorov, Dmitriy Lysenkov, Alexey Barabash, Andrey Smolyakov, Oleg Volgu, Yanina Studilina, Maria Smolnikova, Thomas Kretschmann and Heiner Lauterbach.
The film will be shown internationally at IMAX® 3D cinemas - and makes history as the first Russian film to do so. The film will be released in the U.S. early 2014, and is also scheduled for release in China with the Chinese release preparing for 3,200 IMAX® 3D screens.
Watch the film trailer courtesy of the IMDB website:http://www.imdb.com/video/wab/vi3635390745/ or on You Tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3AXBdfZidY with official film posters available at this link http://www.wdsspr.ru/archive/00203/
SOME OF THE CREDITS INCLUDE:
Post Production Post Production Company - RSS Production (Stereo 3D) using Mistika
Post Production Producer - Alexander Dukhon
Stereoscopic 3D Artists using Mistika - Daniel Ovrutski at RSS Production
Freelance Stereoscopic 3D Artist working at RSS Production - Alvaro Barrasa
Post production Stereoscopic 3D System - SGO's Mistika
Cinelab (Colour Grading)
Cinelab - Da-Vinci Resolve - Bozhena Maslennikova
CG - Main Road Post
Directed by Fedor Bondarchuk
Producer Alexander Rodnyansky Production Management
Sergey Melkumov ... producer
Alexander Rodnyansky ... producer
Dmitriy Rudovskiy ... producer
Steve Schklair ... 3D producer
Marina Leonova ... production manager
Jason Pomerantz ... production manager: IMAX Version
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Dmitriy Grachev ... director: second unit
Ivan Shurkhovetskiy ... director: second unit
Special Effects by
Seth William Meier ... special effects line producer
Visual Effects by
Steve Schklair ... 3D visual effects producer
Camera and Electrical Department
Ivan Alekseyev ... dolly grip
Matthew R. Blute ... supervising stereographer
Geoffrey Bund ... 3d rig technician
Shawn Dufraine ... 3d engineer
Anna Evstratova ... second unit stereographer
Dean Georgopoulos ... digital imaging technician
Nate Heartt ... red camera technician
Marc Sieger ... cablecam supervisor
Kevin Stanley ... digital imaging technician
Céline Tricart ... 3D rig technician
Nick Brown ... post stereographer
Rod Nikolaychuk ... assistant editor
ABOUT RSS PRODUCTION
RSS Production is an association of pioneering professionals in the film and television production industry with resources that include high-end digital cameras and next-generation technology for Stereoscopic 3D and 2D productions. The post production studio is made up of several editing stations, sound recording systems as well as VFX, colour grading and Stereo 3D studios which now houses a state-of-the-art Mistika suite with a 2K Barco projector and 5-metre reference screen all under one roof. Visit them at www.rss-production.com
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