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We also sat down with Bob Whitehill and Josh Hollander to talk in a bit more detail on their involvement in the 3D upgrade. One of the things I mentioned during the roundtable was how great the textures looked in the film. Wet fish seemed shinier, the whales tongue looked bumpier. There were a lot of things that seemed crisper and more realistic than ever. Stereopscopic Supervisor Bob Whitehill attributes that more to the added pixels, but he credits the original makers of the film for what a great job they did on the texture
I think it speaks to the effectiveness of 3D, because that's the same shading, same lighting as the original. But when you're seeing that dimensionality of it, you're seeing the pockets on the tongue, or the scales on the fish's body. In 3D space, I think that those sort of aspects just stand out more, have a little more life to them. I think when we're talking about texture, we're also talking about very fine detail, and so maybe the higher resolution is also being effective there. We've rendered that many more pixels jammed into that same size space, and so you're going to have more fine lines on all of that texture. It's a credit of the original makers of the film for doing such a good job, and then it's a credit to the technology of 3D and resolution, why it stands out more now.
Both Whitehill and Director of 3D Production Josh Hollander were in agreement that they wanted to honor the look of the original film. A balance had to be struck between creating the kind of 3D effects people would be looking for without drastically changing the movie or somehow detracting from the original film. "We really just want to stay true and honor those original films, and honor the vision of the original film," Hollander said. "Bob often says that 3D can mirror a story arc the same way score does. Similarly with the other technology - the shading, the textures, etc. - we feel like we want to honor that original and just do it justice, make a 3D film that's worthy of its original version."
Bob Whitehill added to that...
And not detract from it where your'e thinking about the 3D too much. I know that there's some in the audience that may want that. They've paid a premium and they may want it to be more aggressive, but I think we found a healthy medium where it should feel dimensional, and every shot should feel different to you as you're watching it. We haven't gone so subtle that only the most sensitive eyes can feel it, but at the same time we haven't pushed it - I hope - past the limit where it's becoming a detriment.
Finding Nemo isn't the first Pixar film to receive a 3D makeover, nor will it be the last. You have to consider the amount of organization it takes to keep all of the files together, especially when factoring in the number of people working on them. If something is saved in the wrong place, it could be lost forever (or for a long time, anyway). Once technology advances, the films coming out in recent years may be revisited ten years from now. Whitehill spoke about the steps being taken today to make sure the files are properly stored and upgraded in anticipation of future projects.
We have so many bright systems people and constructors of this file system that is so elaborate and has so many different pieces pulling together that there's just tremendous thought put into proper file storage and archiving. We have these different versions of the software that will be released twice monthly - these global trees updates. There's a tremendous amount of thought. They're sort of among many unsung heroes at a company like Pixar. A lot of different people get credit for our movies, but these IT and systems professionals who are archiving and masterminding a plan to carry all this data forward in a way that's accessible. They really do a tremendous job.
Their efforts will likely be greatly appreciated in time if and when it comes time to bring these movies back, perhaps ten years from now when technological advancements call for another rerelease. From what Hollander added, it sounds like this has been a learning process over the years…
We've learned a lot as a studio, just about how to store things, how to cycle them forward. When you're in the heat of production and you have a hundred technical artists working on something, and they're all saving it to the right place, every now and then something gets placed locally, that doesn't placed back on the global storage. And so what we're doing is, we're finding holes, we're finding errors, we're finding things missing. As we find those things, we're making sure they get saved back into that global location. So, theoretically it will be easier next time around.
Theoretically. But again, the time spent and efforts taken will be well worth it in the long run. The effort put into Finding Nemo's 3D make-over shows in the finished product. Pixar has succeeded in taking a beloved movie to the next level by making it an even better visual experience for fans and newcomers to enjoy in theaters.
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