Posted on December 9, 2009

Entering a new dimension

Aaron Lynett, National Post A controlled explosion is staged yesterday on the set of Resident Evil: Afterlife at Cinespace Studios.

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.