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Entering a new dimension: Toronto hopes to become a prime location for shooting films in 3D

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At the Cinespace studios in south Riverdale, the cast and crew of Resident Evil: Afterlife will finish shooting in 3D in the next week. In January, Saw VII will begin shooting, also in 3D.

The Toronto film industry, still struggling to recover its glory days, sees much hope in the third dimension. Key players hope to establish the city as a reliable destination for large Hollywood productions looking to shoot in 3D.

“When Hollywood producers have successful experiences at a location, they tend to come back,” says Jim Mirkopoulos, vice president of operations at Cinespace Studios. “Toronto has film crews, technicians and camera operators who have been seasoned for 30 years, and now those people are becoming very conversant in 3D.”

Last night, the crew working on Resident Evil: Afterlife were scheduled to shoot a series of 25 foot high explosions in the parking lot of the Cinespace studios on Booth Avenue. To get the depth required for 3D, the crew had to film the blasts not only straight on, but also from above and below.

The technology to shoot in this way required camera rigs that were only recently developed for James Cameron’s epic Avatar.

The cost of 3D cameras, often about $500,000, has made accessing the equipment for training difficult. The union representing the city’s camera crews hopes the Resident Evil producers will let them use the 3D equipment for a weekend once shooting wraps to train people who didn’t work on the film.

“The 3D camera technology hasn’t actually changed that much, so when we do get our hands on the equipment our people are pretty quickly trained,” says Rick Perrotto, a business representative for the International Cinematographer’s Guild’s local branch.

Fortunately, the 3D cameras and rigs for Saw VII are being provided by the Toronto-based 3D Camera Company. The equipment will arrive in Toronto a week before shooting begins, and local crews will be offered seminars and training during the first week of January.

The 3D Camera Company was started in 2006 and has grown into one of the four largest 3D film companies in North America. While the company is headquartered in Toronto, its equipment is rented out by productions all over the world.

Bill White, one of the founders of the company, believes it is essential that Toronto’s film crews become well-versed in the 3D technology.

“Within three to four years, I believe everything will be shot in 3D,” Mr. White says. “Shooting in 3D only presents a nominal extra cost, and it’s growing exponentially. When you capture 3D you automatically capture 2D as well, so you are adding value to the product.”

The technology has existed since 1890, but with the recent popularization of high definition film projection Hollywood studios began to invest in 3D films again. Almost all of the major 3D releases this decade had been animated films, but in January, 2009, Lionsgate released My Bloody Valentine 3D, which went on to earn more than $100-million worldwide. James Cameron’s much hyped 3D science fiction epic Avatar is to be released on Dec. 18, and 2010 will see major 3D releases including Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland in 3D and Disney’s Tron: Legacy (filmed in Vancouver).

Ali Kazimi, a film professor at York University, said the school is in the early stages of offering a course on 3D filmmaking.

The 3D Camera Company recently provided York with a 3D camera, and Cinespace gave the school access to its set of the American Oval Office in Kleinburg for the school’s 3D FLIC project.

Prof. Kazimi directed a five-minute 3D film called Cleaning House in September. The film’s crew was comprised entirely of current students and recent graduates, with the purpose of testing the potential of new 3D technology.

“It’s so new that it’s not currently a course, but there is an expectation that the research will lead to curriculum development,” Prof. Kazimi says.

Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/canada/toronto/story.html?id=2319932#ixzz0ZHVlIVQb
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Thu, December 10 2009 » 3D, emerging technologies