When Directing 3D, the Eyes Have It

When Bruno Hullin, one of the two directors working on 3D World Cup productions, sat down for his first 3D production on June 11 for the game between Mexico and South Africa, he knew the challenge ahead of him: how to take his skills from years of directing in 2D and apply them to 3D. And it’s a challenge that dozens of directors around the globe will face in the near future.

“The secret in 3D is that you start wide and zoom while, with the lower-pitch cameras, you need to be very wide and have players in the front of the image,” he says.

Telling the story of the match is paramount, and Hullin says, when relying primarily on cameras that are close to the action, the production team needs to learn new ways to follow the action.

“In 2D, I always cut by looking at the men on the pitch because that tells me

Bruno Hullin is one of two 3D directors working on the World Cup broadcasts.

what is happening,” says Hullin. “But, when I am on a camera on the pitch, I will look at the eyes of the players to understand what is happening and where to cut.”

One of the top tools in the 2D productions at the 2010 World Cup have been super-slow-motion camera systems. Shooting at upwards of 300 frames per second has given viewers a great view of tightly shot, emotional facial reactions. For the moment, however, those shots don’t work for 3D.

“With 3D,” Hullin notes, “we need layers [of objects], and, with low, tight shots from super-slo-mo systems, we only have one layer, which is the player or coach on the background, so there is no depth.”

That said, he does believe there is a role for those shots within a 3D production because the images are so impressive.

One of the issues still to be sorted out for all 3D broadcasts is the number of cameras. Does 3D need the same number as a 2D broadcast, or can it get by with fewer? Hullin says that eight cameras is enough for the 2010 World Cup but more cameras located at a lower level would help tell the story even better since pitch cameras are the primary tool for telling the story of the match in 3D.

“You can direct it like a 2D game, but it will not be interesting,” he says. “To be interesting, you need to find the spirit of 3D, because there are things that are possible in 3D that cannot be done in 2D. For example, you can stay with a wide shot in 3D while, in 2D, you would force the cut and force the view. But, in 3D, you allow the viewer to choose what they want to look at.”