Posted on June 3, 2010

Exploring the third dimension – York University’s new 3-D FLIC research program

York University’s new 3-D FLIC research program aims to create a new vision for Toronto — and bring a whole lot of Hollywood money to town.

Anumber of 3-D motion pictures have come and gone over the years (remember Jaws 3-D?), but something about the more than $1.8 billion Avatar grossed worldwide has those in the industry think- ing that this time, the glasses are on for good.
However, with stereoscopic film technology — the new wave of 3-D — being so new, its possibili- ties are largely untapped, as filmmakers are pretty much making up processes and techniques as they go. That’s a situation a group over at York University are hoping to capitalize on, with their two-year academic-industry partnership program, the 3-D Film Innovation Consortium (3D FLIC).
“Every (3-D) production right now is a proto- type, with filmmakers learning as they go,” says Nell Tenhaaf, associate dean of York’s Faculty of Fine Arts and the 3D FLIC project lead. “We want to try and set up ways of testing and learning things, so that we can learn how to do it better the next time around, and then get that information out to pro- duction companies,” she says.
With the help of $1.4 million in funding from the Ontario Media Development Corporation’s Creative Cluster Partnerships Fund, York is bring- ing filmmakers, vision scientists and psychologists together to explore just how immersive the 3-D movie experience can be.
Working on actual productions at Cinespace Studios, they’ll be looking at ways to better adapt the technology to current filmmaking techniques, as well as how humans react to stereoscopic film, both physically and mentally.
Vision scientists will be bringing their expertise to bear on how to create a better illusion of depth, as well as how to limit the number of people who experience unpleasant side effects such as headaches. Psychologists will bring their research on human behaviour and the mind to the set, looking at ways we perceive stereoscopic films and how to better hold our attention.
Filmmakers, of course, will be providing their expertise, as well as providing real-time problems and obstacles in actual productions, and the project will draw upon computer science and gaming experts as well. The goal, using the “if we learn it, they will come” idea, is to make Toronto a leader in 3-D film innovation and expertise, which in turn should bring more productions (and money and jobs) into the GTA.
“If you can demonstrate you’ve developed expertise in a certain area, you’ll draw productions,” Tenhaaf says. “3D FLIC envisions the GTA as a hub for the best quality and most original stereoscopic film production,” she says.

Eye Weekly, June 3 -9 2010