Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Ok, Here's the Plan

While working on some new shots, I've been rendering out the right eye version of the first couple of shots that were produced; I now have my first seconds of final 3D video. The 3D in motion works as well as my test frames suggested. I did make a sizeable goof in one 75 frame shot (about 3 seconds worth), which now needs to be re-rendered for both left and right eyes to correct the perspective problem.

Anyway, the plan... I'm trying to figure out how this thing is going to look in its final DVD incarnation, so planning has to be undertaken at this stage to ensure the best quality result. I'm producing all the images at 852x480, then importing the resultant right and left eye versions into a freeware program called
Stereo Movie Maker. The program creates 3 AVI files for each shot - a 2D version (made from the left eye video file), an anaglyph 3D version, and an interlaced 3D version. This will probably cause me storage headaches down the road, as about 15 seconds worth of footage equals about a 400MB uncompressed AVI, per version.
Then, I take the 2D version into Adobe Premiere and edit it. The goal is to go straight from the Premiere timeline to a DVD-ready MPEG2 file without any intermediary steps, which would cause compression loss. To acheive this (since I'm using Premiere 6), I'm evaluating a program from
Videotools called Premiere Video Server, which allows you to use an encoder, such as TMPGEnc, to produce a final video stream directly from Premiere. I did a test using Cinema Craft's MPEG Encoder, but was unsatisfied with the results, and have opted for the freeware TMPGEnc for the quality of its video output.

The 852x480 16x9 image is smashed into a 720x480 anamorphic frame, which is then decoded back to a 16x9 image by your DVD player. I haven't burned a test file for playback yet, but looking at it on a computer monitor displays no edge problems associated with most video scaling operations.

Once I have the 2D version finished, I can then have Premiere replace all the 2D clips with their 3D counterparts, while retaining all my edit decisions. The encoding process can then be repeated for each subsequent version of the movie.

So, there you have it. The initial tests of this process have gone well, so we're off to the races. For those of you interested in current stats, there is 1:14 of finished animation; 39 seconds of that is final, rendered 2D animation; and 17 seconds of that exists in 3D.