Set visit: Keanu Reeves' '47 Ronin' turns London into 1700s Japan
Samurai loyalty and honor in 3D
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Producer Abdy credits a research trip to the graves of the Ronin and the art in the religious temples in Japan for this fantastical departure. “We’re going for ‘Lord of the Rings,’ we’re going for ‘Star Wars’ we want to create the world of Japan, we want to create the dream of Japan.”
This ambitious fantasy element informed the choice of Rinsch as visual effects are his strong point. He has only one narrative film under his belt, (sci-fi short The Gift) but his commercial director’s reel is beautiful and effects heavy. Abdy gushes “Carl is tremendous with visual effects, he really understands how to visually tell stories. He has big ideas and is a world-creator.”
This pressure is not lost on Rinsch, who wearily admits “we’re creating a world not from scratch but a world that's entirely new to most Western audiences. And we’re doing it in stereo and we’re doing it with a cast who doesn't speak English as a first language. That on paper is like, okay, that's officially crazy. ‘Don't do that.’”
The sets that have been built on the back lot at Shepperton are truly grand and remarkable to behold. Although there is a large element of the fantastic, the idea is clearly to portray as much as possible practically instead of creating them later in a computer. The film is being shot in 3D with multiple Cameron/Pace rigs that anachronistically float on cranes amongst the beautifully costumed Samurai on horseback and throngs of extras in ceremonial dress.
Behind the scenes in the 3D video village Stereographer Demetri Portelli works with a fantastic array of equipment to adjust the depth of the 3D on the fly for each of the three camera rigs during the production by adjusting the distance between the two lenses.
Unlike post conversions where the depth is assigned in post production via computer, a 3D shoot allows for a more natural rendition of 3D by shooting with two actual cameras per rig (one for each eye.) This new all-digital workflow allows the director, the DP and the Stereographer to playback each shot from each camera and analyze the depth effect of the footage and adjust it for each take. Portelli explains “You might say ‘On that take the performance was good but the 3D was conservative, let’s do another take with bigger 3D!’ That’s a really good thing to do with your director.”
Portelli has just come off shooting Scorsese’s “Hugo” and takes a long view on the art of Stereo cinema. “I think 3D is evolving. It’s still very new for so many people and it’s becoming a bit finer tuned and better executed, and the better technical 3D is better artistic 3D.” However the Canadian Portelli says he has not been able to go home. “Scorsese’s movie went three months longer [than expected] then they asked us to do this, so we’ve been stuck in England.”
Carl Rinsch tells us that his approach to the 3D is probably more aggressive than usual. “You have to play with it like music… it’s going to get a little bit bigger here and then it’s going to mellow out and then it’ll ramp up!”
Will this amazing mishmash of actors, cultures and technologies add up to a decent historical fantasy-action-samurai flick? Find out when “47 Ronin” hits theaters this Christmas, December 25th.