The changing face of S3D advertising

Advertising agencies have been quick to capitalize on the fascinating possibilities of the three-dimensional experience, investing more and more time, energy and money in the production of 3D commercials. As a result, production companies and postproduction houses are faced with new and exciting challenges. 

A 3D commercial that was produced recently for the global software giant Microsoft provides a good example of these challenges; the 30-second spot was produced in a real 3D environment by production company e+p commercial, advertising agency Agentur Wunderman and ARRI Commercial, all of which are based in Munich. In the spot, the camera follows a trail biker up and down walls, doing the occasional summersault, jump or flip. The camera also captures the orange trail of chalk the daredevil leaves in his wake; at the end of the commercial, in a computer generated reverse zoom ending in a bird's eye view of Berlin, this orange trail turns into the Microsoft Office logo.

In order to produce three-dimensional effects of the highest quality, ARRI Rental created and tested a hardware infrastructure unlike anything ever before assembled in Germany. The commercial was filmed with a crew of 60 people, over the course of two days in Berlin. It was shot on two ARRI ALEXA cameras and, for high speed recordings, two Phantom cameras; both camera systems were mounted on stereoscopic rigs.

The ALEXA footage was recorded to synchronized HDCAM SR recorders as well as in ProRes to a QTAKE video assist unit. A 3D monitor and the necessary 3D eyewear was made available for on-set viewing purposes to director

Moritz Laube, DoP Christian Rein, agency representatives and the client. This provided helpful feedback about the three-dimensional effects, which benefited the team during the shoot.

Quality control of the 2D and 3D streams was undertaken at ARRI Film & TV Services in Berlin and Munich throughout the shoot. Offline editing was completed on a specially upgraded 3D AVID with real time 3D viewing capabilities. Once the offline edit was approved, the online and VFX work could commence; the challenge at that stage was to enhance the CGI particles in such a way that they created the illusion of being within the viewer's actual grasp.

"The result was absolutely convincing," says Hansjörg Fuhrken, artistic director at Wunderman, Munich. "No gimmickry, just brilliant, atmospheric images that create an emotional connection to the product and that we haven't seen before; just as our client, Microsoft – who asked for a high-tech spot for their innovative product – had envisioned it."