StereoEssays / Five or six stereoscopic essays in search of a narrative
The film StereoEssays / Five or six stereoscopic essays in search of a narrative is a high-tech audiovisual essay that explores ultra-definition stereoscopic images. As in the legendary Views of the Guanabara Bay (1898), considered the first Brazilian movie, made by the Segreto brothers, Rio de Janeiro is once again the focus of pioneering cameras. The difference now is that the “views” can be observed in three dimensions and ultra-high definition.
The film is divided into five acts, plus a prologue and an epilogue. The prologue and Act I more explicitly portray the idea of “views” of Rio de Janeiro, with wide-angle aerial and marine shots of Sugarloaf Mountain, the Rio-Niterói bridge and the Guanabara Bay. Trucks, cranes and ships – all elements in gigantic moving proportions. In 3D, the stereoscopic space is formed against the backdrop of the continuously moving machines. As stereographic filmmaker Keith Collea said about the machines: “look, they work for us!” In contrast, the huge, colored containers form a background chain, closed with their secrets about the objects they bring from afar. Act III explores the maze-like streets of the Tavares Bastos community and celebrates the local football players. The feet, the ball and the unpredictable movements of the boys are compositional elements of the shots which blend into the movements of the dance of Act V. The feet, hands and movements of the Mangueira dancers integrate into the movements of the ball, in an unassuming, spontaneous game, with the main objective of promoting a new visual experience.
All of them, Rio de Janeiro views, football, “favela” and “sambistas” are considered Brazilian cultural “clichés”. However, the sound track in its foreignness drives us out from the position of enjoying the exotic, the primitive to the position of the 21th century viewer who has viewed more than a hundred years of cinematic images.
Since the outset, the film project has tackled the technological challenges of the major research laboratories. From the single camera pair, a piece of equipment still unknown to experts, to the processing of images with roughly 10 million pixels, and screening the film with special projectors, still in the phase of stabilization. In the stereoscopic projection of the film (3D), the resolution reaches 20 million pixels per frame on the screen, counting the images corresponding to the left and right eyes.
This experiment recalls the challenges faced by the pioneers of cinema and retrieves the fantasy of the 19th century stereoscopic apparatus. In 1891, Edson already intended to bestow stereoscopic depth on the Kinetograph images that would be seen through the Kinetoscope. In 1856, only two years after being founded, the London Stereoscopic Company sold half a million stereoscopic viewers. Also in the mid-19th century the Fotoplastikon Warszawski (Warsaw Stereoscope) was invented in Poland. In the pre-cinema age, stereoscopic photography provided a new experience of perceiving reality, giving viewers a new level of immersion into the images, as if traveling to remote places and personally partaking in far-off events. Stereoscopic views of the city and other places were already being shown to the public in 1905, with the inauguration of the Fotoplastikon Warszawski in Al. Jerozolimskie 51, Warsaw, which remains open for visitation to this day. The Warsaw Fotoplastikon is the only attraction of its kind still operating at its original address.
In 1935, Louis Lumière remade the Arrival of a Train at a Station (L’arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat, 1895) in a stereoscopic version, which remake was possibly the true motive for the famous amazement at the realism of the images usually attributed to the public projection of L’arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat in 1896. Walter Benjamin has reported on more than one occasion his stereoscopic experience with the Kaiserpanorama in Berlin in 1900. The German thinker mentions the public’s fascination with travel photographs and uses the stereoscope as a metaphor of the new configuration of modernity, with images “arranged as if they had come out of drawers,” brightly coloured scenes and objects against backdrops with towering buildings and forts, inherited from the Tsarist regime in the city of Riga. Later, Benjamin draws attention to the time required to give such detail to these new three-dimensional scenes, and suggests that the “stereoscopic look” should be cultivated in order to tackle deep down the “historical shadows.” All this “stereoscopic heritage” of still and moving images served as inspiration for the EstereoEnsaios project: scenes that take us back to the history of equipment that shows “views”, the arbitrary movement of nature, machines and the human body, full of sensuality in light of the stereoscopic device.
The stereoscopic vision generated by new ultra-definition (5K) technologies urges us to consider new possibilities of image, new metaphors for cinema and a new level of sensations – in short, a whole new aesthesis. The gigantic, digital ultra-definition images set the stage for a new visual upscale.
Whereas before we had the “cine eye” (in the singular), with Dziga Vertov and the centrality of the monocular perspective that accompanies his story, now the stereoscopic image allows perception of the visual world around us through a “stereopsis”. In other words, there has been a shift from the Cyclops (single eye) movie camera to a dual camera, stereoscopic view. In this regard, how are we to contemplate a whole new world of moving images captured mechanically and electronically through a binocular perspective? In simpler and more direct terms, how are we to shoot and assemble a three-dimensional film, narratively speaking? What do our eyes, saturated by over 110 years of motion pictures, support – and expect – of the images revisited by stereoscopy in colossal proportions? Above all, the issue tackled by EstereoEnsaios is: is 3D a language or an effect?
The questions are only just beginning.
Jane de Almeida (part of the paper presented in Istanbul at ISEA)
The short 3D/4K film is part of a research project developed by the Advanced Applications of Remote Visualization Working Group supported by the RNP (National Education and Research Network). This Working Group’s proposal is the execution, production, organization and cataloging of the creative process of audiovisual content in 4K 3D format (image with minimum resolution of 4096 × 2160 pixels). The film was produced with Red Epic cameras, capable of capturing 5K images, rigged to obtain stereoscopic images.
Digital 3D short film (4k, DCI 4k, 2k formats) / (It can be showed as an installation with back projection as well) / 15.38 mins
Jane de Almeida – Direção / Direction
Keith Collea – Estereoscopia / Stereoscopy
Fábio Pestana – Fotografia e Câmera / Cinematography
Alfredo Suppia – Edição, Pesquisa e Roteiro/ Editing, Research, Script
Cicero Inacio da Silva – Pesquisa e Produção / Research, Production
Andre Pupo – Edição / Editing
Livio Tragtenberg – Trilha sonora / Sound Track
Beto Ferraz – Edição de som / Sound editing
Caru Schwingel – Produção / Production
Bruno Beauchamps – Produção executiva/ Executive Production
Sound mix: Dolby Digital 7.1 (file size: 49 Gb)
Formats: 4K 3D (TIFFs sequence 4096 x 2160) / DCP 2K 3D / JPEG 2000 (4096×2160) / .MOV 2K 3D (Polarized)
Frame rate: 24 fps
File size per frame: 25.3 Mbyte (4096 x 2160 TIFF – 24bits color)
Total uncompressed size of the movie: 1.1391072 Tbytes
Film Location: Rio de Janeiro