Phil “Captain 3D” McNally has a new 3D movie in theaters Friday March 22nd, “The Croods” and according to Phil, “The Croods is the most ’3D’ movie DreamWorks Animation has ever produced.”
Phil shares this and more with me in this Q&A.
Phil “Captain 3D” McNally (Yup, he legally changed his name to Captain 3D!) is DreamWorks Animation’s Stereoscopic Supervisor; which means he’s the 3D genius behind the magic at DreamWorks Animation. Captain 3D has worked on some of my favorite 3D movies including “How To Train Your Dragon”. Whenever Phil comes out with a new 3D movie I have to see it on the BIG screen because I know it will be cinematic, dramatic, epic and emotional.
JS: You did an amazing job of using depth to help elevate the emotional impact of “How To Train Your Dragon”. What’s your favorite emotional 3D moment in “Dragon”?
PM: “Dragon” was a great show and there are many moments where we are using stereo for emotional impact. The one I show the most is the sequence where Hicup is searching the forest and discovers the downed dragon for the first time. His intention to kill the dragon and return a hero is in conflict with his true desire to set him free. As the stress rises the stereo increases in sync with the sequence.
JS: Did you use this same emotional style of 3D in “The Croods”?
PM: We have used it to some extent in all the movies. In “The Croods” we set out to really maximize the stereo volume. It is the most ’3D’ movie DreamWorks Animation has produced. By that I mean it has the deepest backgrounds and the closest foregrounds on average. This also allowed us to use a longer lens palette. The sweet spot was 35mm.
JS: What’s an example from “The Croods”?
PM: Some simple examples are ramping up the stereo depth when we see over a cliff edge etc…
JS: What else did you try to bring to “The Croods” to raise your game even higher and continue to further the impact of cinematic 3D?
PM: It was all about maximizing the depth. I have recently argued that if the 3D version of a movie is not ‘different’ enough from the 2D version then why do it? More than any movie I have worked on “The Croods” looks the way, I think, a 3D movie should look. Big depth, full volume, spatially consistent, low stress and natural. It just looks right.
SEE THE TRAILER IN 3D:
JS: Did you use a depth script?
PM: We used to create depth scripts in the early days but do not need to any more. Typically we establish early on which sequences of the movie will be the big stereo moments so everyone remembers when we get there. Otherwise it is between myself and the Head of Layout, Yong Duk Jhun, to come up with a stereo plan for the sequence and show it to the Directors.
JS: What was it like to watch “The Croods”, when it was finished, with the Directors?
PM: Ha by the time it is finished I estimate that I have seen every shot around 500 times so who knows how many times the Directors (Chris Saunders, Kirk D’amico) have seen it. With that in mind it is very difficult to see the movie fresh. You really have to see it with a public audience to have the final appreciation.
JS: What’s your next project?
PM: I am currently setting stereo on the last few sequences of Turbo. The story of a super speedy racing snail.