Steele Studios Completes On-air Stereo 3D Graphics Refresh Package
October 31, 2011

Steele Studios Completes On-air Stereo 3D Graphics Refresh Package

Culver City, Calif. - Steele Studios, a creator and producer of visual content for television, film, music videos, and commercial projects for Fortune 500 companies, has completed and delivered an on-air stereo 3D graphics package for 3net, the 24/7 3D television network from Sony, Discovery, and IMAX.

Beginning November 4, viewers of 3net will see the vibrant new stereo 3D graphics components designed, created, composited, and delivered by Steele Studio co-owner Jerry Steele and his team. Comprised of over 60 elements, the new graphics include main logo opens, IDs, promotional and sponsored elements, interstitials, promo opens and closes, and many other transitional and supplemental elements.

The package represents a visual and dynamic "refresh" of the look and feel of the network. This new work by Steele Studios extends the company's involvement with 3net, which began months prior with the network's launch in early 2011. That work included building elements and graphics for the launch, modifying existing graphic elements for stereo 3D broadcast, editing, and creating many promos, sizzle reels, flying titles, interstitials, wipes, and transitions that have been airing during 3net's first months.
To create the CGI, the group used Maxon's Cinema 4D. The artists also used Adobe After Effects and Photoshop.  

Steele also completed all the various complexities included within the stereo post process for live-action elements (convergence, left-eye/right-eye color balancing, linearity and geometry, depth budgeting, and scripting). Because of the multitude of different sources for the content featured on 3net, Steele was required to re-converge and, in some cases, re-create the stereo 3D for a standard TV size.
The 3net on-air graphics project for Steele Studios comes on the heels of the company's other recent, high profile 3D projects. In 2010, the studio completed a 3D video featuring Latin pop star Shakira for the opening ceremony of the World Cup soccer competition. Titled "Waka Waka" ("This Time for Africa"), the video was the official theme song of FIFA's 2010 World Cup. For the video, Steele provided stereoscopic supervision, online, color correction, beauty FX, compositing, stereo 3D geometry, linearity, and finishing services. Soon after, Steele served as online editor for Avril Lavigne's hit stereo 3D music video "What the Hell." Steele was in charge of the video's highly detailed stereo 3D work, and provided the visual effects, beauty work, color correction and finishing. For both the videos, as well as for the 3net refresh, Steele Studios used the Quantel Pablo 4K with stereo 3D compositing, online work, color correction, finishing, and mastering.

In his role as stereographer for the new graphics package soon to be featured on 3net, Steele says, "For these new graphics, we wanted to create really dynamic shapes that exaggerate depth, but at the same time, we were limited to a minimal stereo 3D depth and inter-axial distance. The way we could do this was to use really wide-angle lenses and shoot objects which we'd move only a few nanometers at a time. We had crazy big lenses, giving us massive distortions, which allowed us to exaggerate depth and to 'stage' this 3D space appropriately."

According to Steele, all the elements in the composite were ultimately shot with different sized lenses and then placed carefully within the limited space. The group used a combination of solid and amorphous objects, so that they could "bend" the rules as needed to fit all the pieces in the composites. "We relied heavily on the undeterminable shapes that were placed between solid objects to separate them," he adds. "We ultimately had to exaggerate the physical nature of these constructs, because all of the other visual information around them wouldn't normally give the viewer the correct sense of depth and mass." 


One of the biggest challenges with this project was that we the group was limited to the dimensional budget they could apply to 3D graphics for television. For the theater, the stereo 3D cannot extend as far into the screen relatively as it can for TV, and for TV, the stereo 3D cannot extend as far out of the screen as with movies. "It is a result of the maximum positive divergence that the viewer can comfortably watch," Steele explains. "Ideally, you have to analyze what budget or degree of depth you're applying to which shots. We had to figure out a way to deliver interesting graphics, which, when edited together, didn't represent distracting convergence shifts, which can lead to audience eyestrain. You have to be able to plan how to go from one extreme to another to engage viewers in 3D, without visually confusing them. Additionally, the graphics had to be consistent and represent a norm that all the content around them could work with."
3D is an optical illusion, notes Steele, and the more cues that can be created within a certain depth range that are complimentary to each other, the more the 3D appears to be real. "We're tricking the eye into thinking there really are three dimensions. We have to put depth cues in at certain depths-every visual cue between the point furthest back in the screen and the imagery at the forefront of the screen, has to fall into place," he says. "If it doesn't, that's where the illusion stops. In creating these 3D animations, we made sure that the stereo 3D was emphasized and de-emphasized appropriately. It is important to create drama within the stereo 3D and allow the impact to play out. Timing and content are controlled to give the viewer the chance to rest and then feel the extent of the stereo 3D again." 

Adds co-founder Jo Steele, "3D is definitely the next big thing in TV. It will inspire the arrival of many new channels, and will also revolutionize the gaming industry. Many of our competitors are on the fence about 3D--some think it's a fad and won't adopt the new technology until it has proven itself, industry-wide. However, we at Steele Studios have recognized the potential of riding the crest of the wave many times before, and will continue to embrace these changing technologies as we strive to remain at the forefront of this exciting new medium."

For the project, Jo Steele served as executive producer; Jerry Steele, stereographer, creative director, Pablo artist; Chris Williamson, design and art director; Kurt Miller, Cinema 4D artist; Mark Edwards, producer.