Underworld: Awakening, The Darkest Hour stereographer Kasimir Lehto details the 3D entertainment experience

Shooting, editing, and delivering the first ever 3D documentary on explosive demolition for international broadcast has connected us with others who are forging paths into the third dimension.

These brilliant, passionate, innovative filmmakers are redefining entertainment … one project at a time.

One of the people we’ve spoken to is Kasimir Lehto.

Lehto, who found us through an article detailing the production of Blowdown 3D, has been in the stereoscopic filmmaking business since 2005.

In that time, he’s worked as a stereographer/DOP on several 3D productions, including Underworld: Awakening and The Darkest Hour. His latest project, Apartment 1303, is slated for production this fall in Montreal, Canada.

Born in Finland to filmmaker parents, Lehto has been immersed in cinematography his whole life. Here’s what he had to say about the exciting world of 3D:

On entering the third dimension

I got involved six years ago. I noticed all the marks in the air that this would be the next step in the history of cinema in terms of distribution and new kind of form. I foresaw that this is the new area where cinema is evolving. You have to take risk to accomplish something or go forward. I was keen to find new horizons in filmmaking – it was strong intuition so I just went for it.

It inspired me. It allowed me to forget everything I know about cinematography and filmmaking and try to and start to build again on top of a new principle – this new format that brings up creative possibilities and rethinking the cinematic language.

On funding stereoscopic films

We founded a company called Stereoscape to generate works for us in 3D. First we applied for money from different technology research centres, film funds for researching and test-driving 3D. We got quite a lot of money from Finland to research and develop this whole thing – we were government-financed.

On the road to 3D

When we started there wasn’t much knowledge and tricks and technology around so it took like a really long time to figure out. We did a lot of short films and a lot of demo content which we tried to figure out how to shoot 3D, how to place the cameras, how to edit, how to view which took enormous time for us because nobody was really doing it in the small budget level we were doing.

Figuring out everything was kind of a struggle but the was the fun of it, to kind of explore and learn new things, to figure it out and to have it working. Now everything has changed dramatically. Editing software is supporting 3D, there are a lot of different 3D cameras for different price ranges and budgets, there are production services, there is screening, there are 3D TVs.

On 3D’s universal appeal

3D gives the viewer more information. When the viewer receives more information that’s a richer experience and it engages you in a deeper level. My basic ideology is that drama is actually one of the best areas to work in 3D. You are observing the people and the action and the drama between them. When the 3D is added it gives the viewer a richer experience of the character, which makes it more real and more understandable.

I think that 3D is something between the cinema and the theatre. We all know that with the theatre the presentation of the characters is real so the whole context of the story or the subtext is stronger. In drama it’s about emotions and the story. 3D can deliver these characters and situation with a higher level of information like social signals, emotional signals – if all this can be delivered in a stronger level of information that’s always better.

The 2D/3D debate: it’s black and white

You know many times in the past people have asked me why 3D is better than 2D then I’ve asked them “what do you prefer, black and white or colour in films?” And 99 per cent of the time it’s like “colour” and then I ask why. They always the answer is it’s because it feels more realistic. 3D it delivers the content on a more realistic level so in that case the viewer is more encased and he feels what he sees at a stronger level. You feel that you’re being there, you’re part of the whole story or scene, you’re in the room. That’s why 3D is good and why stories can benefit from it.

On the creative process

[As a stereographer] the biggest challenge is to get everybody on board on making a 3D film and telling the story in three dimensions … to start feeding people and to start helping people understand the difference. The optimal ways to block a scene in 3D, how the cutting and editing pace is different, how to incorporate all these things for the method.

[As a DOP] The biggest challenge is to try to give the director as many tools and as many references and experience so that he or she could be able to tell the story in a way that it works great in 3D in a way that 3D wouldn’t disturb his or her method … it would be a fluent experience. So it’s optimizing the storytelling method to match the 3D.

The biggest reward happens every day you look 3D on a big screen. When you screen your dailies or test or whatever it’s always shocking of how amazing it is. And you get more rewards when things are working smoothly and you get great shots and as a cinematographer you can use the camera in a way that is kind of matching how the audience wants to see 3D. Once you get to the kind of method where you can shoot 3D in a 3D way, not within a 2D method, that’s when the 3D starts to flourish.

On stereoscopic success

Try to look at as much 3D as possible. Try to make test shoots and try to explore things and learn from it. You have to learn how the 3D is different from 2D and according to that information you should tune your method to match the features of 3D.

The biggest asset in the set is everybody’s mind. So everybody should, from the whole team, director and DOP, production designer and producer, all the key positions should have experience or knowledge about the 3D so everybody understands what it is and how is it different from the 2D method.

On indie filmmaking and the future of 3D innovation

Indie films are more capable of mobilizing or utilizing this form that’s because they are smaller so they can explore and be more innovative. And since they are small they have to be smart and kind of jump higher than they actually are. There’s more intention of really nailing it and exploring it in ways that it can be really impressive and tell the story. I’m sure the big films will follow but they are so huge it takes more time for them to kind of evolve and arrive.

The last word

I’m quite positive that 3D is here to stay. If we look at how far moving pictures have come in the last 100 years it would be naïve to think that the format would stay in the 2D format. It’s the rule of evolution. Things are going forward – I don’t think there’s any other option for visual media language than to go to the third dimension.

This week in Battle Castle – Sept. 9

Here’s what’s going on this week in our current production, Battle Castle:

 On YouTube

Conwy — comparing Welsh castles

Executive Producer Maija Leivo reveals her impressions of the differences between Conwy, Caernarfon, and Harlech castles in Northern Wales. The Battle Castle crew scouted and shot at all three locations for Battle Castle: Conwy. The fortifications are part of the Iron Ring that King Edward I erected as part of his castle building campaign in what is now Snowdonia. In 1294 Welsh leader Madog ap Llywelyn challenged these strongholds during a medieval rebellion against the English.

More: <a href="

On Flickr

Battle Castle: Gaillard – fisheye’s view of the keep

The keep at Chateau Gaillard, captured through a fisheye lens, shot during the filming of Battle Castle: Gaillard with host Dan Snow. The French army, led by Philip Augustus of France, laid siege to English King Richard I’s stronghold in 1203-1204. The show reveals how Richard the Lionheart’s castle builders constructed the fortifications, which included securing the castle, an island fort, and the town of Petit Andely, and details the medieval weapons used to attack it.

More: http://battlecastle.tv/blog/chateau-gaillard-change-perspective

On Twitter

Medieval siege tip of the week:

Several things are needed to construct siege engines: skilled engineers, considerable labour, accessible material … and so on – K. Nossov
3 ways to #gomedieval
Awesome medieval moments on the web, chosen by The Gatekeeper:
A case for graffiti


Knights give bowling tournament an old edge

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwLR-Abh8Kk Uploaded by MedievalTimesUSA

Watermelon prepared by longsword

A world of castle engineering, bloody siegecraft, and epic clashes that transform mortals into legends awaits …

Join us.


This week in Battle Castle

From this week forward, we’ll be sharing highlights from our current production, Battle Castle, on our blog.

Hosted by historian and broadcaster Dan Snow, Battle Castle profiles the military architecture and engineering of some of the world’s greatest castles, as well as the medieval weapons technology they faced during the epic sieges that tested them.

This action documentary series is scheduled to air on History Television in Canada and Discovery UK early next year. It’s also slated for distribution by BBC Worldwide.

Battle Castle reveals the stories of:

-Dover – The Key to England

-Crac des Chevaliers – The Crown Jewel of Crusader Castles

-Malaga – Ferdinand and Isabella’s bloodiest siege

-Conwy – King Edward’s Iron Ring

-Chateau Gaillard – Richard the Lionheart’s stronghold

-Malbork – The Teutonic Knight’s red-brick glory

In addition to these broadcasts, Battle Castle also features an extensive online world that continues to grow every day.

This trans-medieval journey includes exclusive web content, behind-the-scenes material, and plenty of opportunities to #gomedieval.

Here’s what’s going on this week in the Battle Castle universe:

 On YouTube

Battle Castle: Gaillard – Dark Discovery

Camera and Director of Photography Sean F. White and Technical Assistant Rory Lambert explore an unexpected opening found at Chateau Gaillard. The French army, led by Philip Augustus of France, laid siege to English King Richard I’s stronghold in Normandy in 1203-1204. Battle Castle: Gaillard reveals how Richard the Lionheart’s castle builders constructed the fortifications, which included securing the castle, an island fort, and the town of Petit Andely, and details the medieval weapons used to attack it.

More: http://battlecastle.tv/blog/chateau-gaillard-exploring-dark-side

On Flickr

Battle Castle: Malbork – a medieval feast

Photos of an exhibit at Malbork Castle, meant to recreate what a meal served at the fortification during the Middle Ages may have consisted of, shot during the filming of Battle Castle: Malbork with host Dan Snow in Poland. The show profiles the siege of 1410 when Polish and Lithuanian forces attacked the brick stronghold. The offensive, which was led by King Jagiello and Grand Duke Vytautas, occurred after the Battle of Tannenberg. The castle, historically known as Marienburg, was built by the Teutonic Order, crusader knights who occupied this area of the Baltic in medieval times.

More: http://battlecastle.tv/blog/malbork-castle-recipe-gomedieval-fun

On Twitter

Medieval siege tip of the week:

Beware the elite’s desire to defend their own interests, as it can be the beating heart of any structural defence – M. Keen
3 ways to #gomedieval
Awesome medieval moments on the web, chosen by The Gatekeeper:
Siege engine homage: trebuchet salutes the Kansas City Wildcats

Dare to compare medieval cooking … stay for the Sweet Frumenty, avoid the Plague (no really, it’s a drink)

http://cookit.e2bn.org/historycookbook/index-27-normans-medieval.html via CookIt!

Writer Merry Farmer rolls out medieval-themed blogs every Monday. Bonus points for the alliteration

Want more Battle Castle action?

A world of castle engineering, bloody siegecraft, and epic clashes that transform mortals into legends awaits …

Join us.


3D TV exclusive: 3net’s Director of Programming and Acquisitions weighs in on the state of stereoscopic entertainment

Blowdown 3D makes its US debut on the 24-hour 3D channel 3net this Sunday, Aug. 28.

Here at Parallax Film Productions, we’re counting down the days until our American audience gets to experience explosive demolition in 3D for the first time.

To mark this event, we chatted with Mark Ringwald – Director of Programming and Acquisitions at 3net – about the premiere, the channel, and the state 3D TV in general.

Some of his thoughts appear in yesterday’s blog post, which details Blowdown 3D’s production and features a few clips from the show, put up in Dubois Anaglyph for the web.

Here are some other highlights from the interview:

On 3net’s programming

We have over 100 hours on the air at this moment and by the end of the year we’ll have 200 hours in our library. There will be a lot of new programming this fall. It’s going to be entertainment, it’s going to be kid’s programming, and it’s going to be concerts and movies and scripted programs. The content is going to be about 75 per cent commissions and co-productions and 25 per cent acquisition. So we’re doing a lot of original content.

On why 3D production can be a challenge

It’s a brand new technology and everybody’s feeling their way through it. Shooting 3D is not like shooting 2D. If somebody says “oh we’ll fix it in post”, chances are you won’t be fixing it in post. 3D gives you every opportunity to come back with no footage whatsoever. Unlike 2D when you can go out and shoot a bunch and say “well, I can piece together something”, you really have to do a lot more planning, you really have to worry about composing each and every shot. You have to shoot it differently than 2D.

We’ve been fortunate here at 3net with Sony’s part: they have a 3D technology centre for DPs and directors. So on the commissioning side people that have been doing projects for us have been sent though that school, so they have a firmly established background.

On the future of 3D TVs

Everyone is getting a 3D set. Starting this year all the major manufacturers – Sony, LG, Panasonic – are all putting the 3D technology in their sets. If you buy a TV set that’s over 42 inches it’s either going to be a 3D set or it’s going to be 3D capable. So we have to stop thinking “is 3D going to work?” and say “well, everybody’s going to be getting a 3D set, are we going to have good content, is there going to be a reason for them to watch something in 3D?”

On the future of 3D content

3D is coming in our homes, so I think the challenge is how to use it to its best advantage. And that’s the real challenge for producers and content creators. People say “what are you looking for in the next 3D show?” and I say “I don’t know”. I think this technology opens a lot of doors to a lot of new concepts and I don’t think people are using the 3D space to its fullest creativity yet. So it’s the challenge of creating content that people will want to go and watch.

On why 3D is great

3D immerses you in the experience. If you’re underwater you’re swimming with the sharks, or if you’re in a country in the Himalayas or on Mount Everest or if you’re at the Indianapolis 500 you feel more immersed inside that content and more like you’re there.

The underwater stuff is great. In one show about dolphins and whales the whales kind of came out. They were out there far enough that you felt like you could touch them and that’s kind of a cool effect. I don’t scuba dive so seeing a whale or a dolphin coming out and almost poking you is pretty spectacular.

On the big picture

You watch television for a myriad of reasons. It’s an experiential form, you’re enjoying the story or the drama or the action or the sport or whatever it is that you’re watching. This is a different way of enjoying it. I don’t think everything’s going to be in 3D. But I think there’s going to be a lot of programming that once you watch something in 3D you’re going to want to watch it in 3D.

The last word

Our mission is to create compelling 3D content that will make people want to go out and get a 3D set and sign up for 3net. There’s no trick to it. It’s just making great television.

Production company captures explosive demolition in 3D


Production company captures explosive demolition in 3D

First implosion ever to be filmed in 3D for international broadcast to make U.S. debut on 3net

VANCOUVER, CANADA – It’s explosive demolition like you’ve never seen before.

For the first time ever a film company has shot, edited and delivered a documentary on structural implosions in 3D.

Parallax Film Productions Inc. used 20 custom-rigged cameras to stereoscopically capture the implosion of a 100,000-seater sports stadium in Salvador, Brazil from every conceivable angle.

This unprecedented visual experience, originally commissioned by History Television and National Geographic Channels International, has been acquired by the 24-hour 3D channel 3net and will make its U.S. debut this Sunday, Aug. 28.

“3net is trying to be the gold standard for 3D,” says Mark Ringwald, Director of Scheduling and Acquisitions for 3net, a joint venture between Discovery Communications, Sony and IMAX. “We work really hard to make sure everything is the best it can be in terms of 3D convergence.”  “Blowdown 3D is a great story about collapsing a stadium, and all the 3D is really good.”

Explosive demolition like you’ve never seen: Blowdown 3D to make US premiere on 3net Sunday, Aug. 28

Our Canadian friends got a two-dimensional view of Blowdown: World Cup Demolition when it premiered earlier this year on History Television Canada.

Our American fans will have the 3D premiere of this Blowdown episode, which hits the airwaves starting August 29th on 3net in the US.  There is a Program Schedule located here: http://press.discovery.com/us/3n/ but you should check your local listings.

Over the past three years, the series has been fun to produce and we even got good at the science and art of filming structural implosions. Nothing could have prepared us, however, for challenges of filming our final episode in Salvador, Brazil last August. For the Parallax Film team, the appeal of capturing the demolition of the one of the world’s largest football stadiums in preparation for the 2014 World Cup was a no-brainer. Executing though, was more problematic.

The team had been working in house for months developing and testing 3D camera systems that would meet our broadcasters HD quality standards but still be portable enough to navigate an industrial demolition site.  We then had to train up personnel to operate the equipment for a multi camera shoot, including a number of what we call kill cams, that ride the structures down after the explosives detonate.  Finally, Brazil is a long way from Vancouver (3 flights over 24 hours) and subject to a three-week wait for a visa, so if anything went wrong, the crew was on its own.

The Stadium went down as they always do, in the blink of an eye.

Here’s a 2D peek of the implosion, captured on President Ian Herring’s Lumix:


Controlled Demolition Incorporated and their Brazilian partners Arcoenge Ltda executed the plan, not a moment too soon for spectators who had been subjected to the blaring of a five minute siren.  The crew made the return trip home anxious to see if they’d pulled it off.  Were the calculations accurate?  Mirrors clean?  F-stops adjusted?  Would we have enough footage to cut the contracted 44 minute broadcast hour, and even if we had enough footage, would we be able to pull together a storyline that made sense?

In the end, the show got made and delivered.  It took a herculean effort from the team who put themselves out there every day.  Finding problems and working out solutions up until the day we shipped tapes and hard drives to our broadcasters.  A special thanks goes out to all them.

Maija Leivo, Executive Producer


Blowdown Season II Canadian premiere: a film company’s quest to capture the ultimate implosion

As History Television prepares to air Super Stadium, the first episode of Blowdown Season II, Tuesday night at 7 p.m, here in house we’ve been talking about the groundbreaking triumphs – and inevitable agonies – behind the incredible shots that make these shows so undeniably explosive.

A high-stakes mission

After shooting, editing, and delivering eight episodes of the series, which follows Controlled Demolition Inc. as they tackle the world’s toughest implosions, I can say with certainty that there’s nothing like the rush we get when the crew returns to the production office after an implosion.

They may be on the road for weeks filming the prep work leading up to the demo, but everything rides on the footage they get on the last day, and there is little room for error and no do-over.   It is the ultimate life lesson.

We call it demo porn and we pour over the shots as they come in.

The money shots

When we filmed Blowdown II: Spyship – the sinking of the Hoyt. S. Vandenberg off the coast of Key West, Florida – we mounted recoverable cameras and harddrives that filmed her as she sank. Listen to the sound as one goes down: it is utterly eerie.

Blowdown – Unsinkable: camera rides the Hoyt S. Vandenberg down from Parallax Film on Vimeo.

In our mission to capture a potentially record-breaking drop for Blowdown II: Monster Tower, we mounted cameras on the top floors of the doomed Ocean Tower condominium project on South Padre Island. And amazingly, they actually rode the building down during the implosion.

We weren’t able to recover the cameras but here is the system we designed that protected our harddrives.

File 182

With the help of Controlled Demolition Inc. President Mark Loizeaux’s expert advice, it landed right on top of the rubble pile as predicted. And a 30-something storey drop later, the footage was all there. And it’s incredible.

File 181

Our ultimate challenge was Blowdown II: World Cup Demolition. We filmed the whole episode in 3D.

Sometimes, after all this amazing footage hits Parallax Film HQ, we don’t even know what we’re looking right away at and only piece it together as we unravel the story … the wonder of these discoveries is really satisfying.

Getting the goods

One of the big questions for crew is whether to shoot big wide shots that allow you to watch the whole thing unfold, complete with the amazing microsecond timing.  Or do you zoom in and witness the devil in the detail like the failure of expansion joints or payoff of pre-slicing concrete rings?

Sometimes it depends on the camera technology.  We’ve experimented with high speed cameras at 300+ frames per second, and found that it worked best for those tight shots, rather than the wides which you just want to let run.

Time to explode

We’ve done some amazing stuff with cameras in this series – things that, to our knowledge, have never been done before.

And the very best of these unparalleled visual experiences will be rolled out over the next few weeks on History Television.

Enjoy the ride, Canada.

We sure did.

Maija Leivo, Executive Producer


Delivering a 3D documentary: what it takes to make the cut

Charting the course of a creative company means selecting projects that fulfill a collective passion for experimentation with cameras, visuals and story.

In the realm of innovation 3D fits nicely with these criteria …  so naturally we had to try it.

But to pick up a camera and start shooting was out of the question because there was nothing – absolutely nothing within our price range that we could carry around like an HD camera and meet broadcast specs.

We foraged ahead with Blowdown 3D and after six months of R&D, several camera systems, a month of production in Brazil and nine months of post we have finally delivered a truly groundbreaking 3D documentary.  

We met our creative criteria of keeping the 2D and 3D cuts identical and having an engaging, watchable show in both formats.   As well we gained stereography expertise and a full 3D production and post facility.

To succeed we needed to 4 key players in place.  A business partner who made sure capital was available; a broadcast partner who helped off-set some of the costs and commission a 3D version; a DOP to build and operate a 3D system and an editor who took on the head and heart ache of posting in 3D and edit a show, simultaneously.

Each partner went in blind, worked hard and remained unwaveringly committed – always moving forward despite the many, many set-backs.   I cannot overstate the massive technical obstacles that stood in our way – especially in post.   For a year it was one step forward, two back – not a terribly long time in the scheme of things for R&D and execution but the money was burning and we had to deliver.

On a larger scale the 3D film industry is hot … but there’s still a lot to learn. At NAB 2011 nearly every booth had a 3D camera system or monitor on display.   Unfortunately the consensus from my team that attended is that most of the stereo projects being generated are not visually interesting or executed in optimal 3D.

As far as 3D programming goes, the broadcasters are starting safe with lots of natural history. Over the next few years television is going to steadily move towards 3D penetration.  The consumer interest is too great for them too pass up the business opportunity.   But for now, I look forward to just seeing how Blowdown 3D is received around the world.

Ian Herring, President


So You Want To Learn 3D? How to bring the stereoscopic dream to life

It’s been a long journey into the realm of 3D documentary filmmaking for myself and the rest of the Parallax team.

A rugged path marked with a few big wins – triumphs earned via epic missions through a series of formidable stereoscopic obstacles.

The good news: we’ve trampled a rough trail … a trail that will hopefully help other enthusiasts avoid getting too thoroughly lost in the enchanted forest that is 3D production.

Our stereographer, Sean White, details some quick and dirty ways to follow us into the third dimension.

Immerse yourself

Learning 3D is a full-time job. A solid foundation of stereo principles is needed if you want to succeed

Research. Take an introductory course. Enlist the help of an experienced stereographer.

Or for true 3D keeners, deconstruct a ready-made system into its basic components. Best way to master the beast. Hands down.

Start small

Our first foray into 3D filmmaking was a modest one involving two $20 cameras purchased on EBay and mounted on a side-by-side rig.

Starting small makes getting bigger the only option.


Always think of ways to make your 3D system better. Tinker, take risks, and invent.

Capitalize fully on your mistakes by knowing exactly where you went wrong. Leave no error unturned.

Share your failures and successes with other experimenters. Best way to avoid epic catastrophes.

Keep your eye on the prize

Driving your whole 3D pursuit is the desire for results – not only should you want something properly stereographed but something beautifully stereographed.

Keeping this in mind, never forget to reverse calculate . . . knowing what you want in the end means taking purposeful, well-thought steps to get there.

Alright, that about does it … now it’s time for the good stuff:

Get out there, get dirty, and above all, have fun.

Ian Herring, President


File 177

Stereographer Sean White films Battle Castle: Dover.

Click here for more photos of the Beamer EX and Parallax crew in action.

3D Technology: Parallax Film’s Beamer EX – a stereoscopic rig like none other.

After many blog posts chronicling its inception, the time has finally come to detail la mini beam splitter rig de resistance.

Meet Beamer EX Stereoscopic Rig, a Parallax Film Productions exclusive, designed and assembled by our stereographer Sean White.

File 174

With two successful 3D shoots in the can, our Beamer has proven a force to be reckoned with in the field – portable, rugged, and a damn good shooter.

And pretty easy on the eyes, don’t you think?

Here’s the Beamer breakdown:

– Custom built aluminum beam splitter chassis integrated with 15mm rods and components

– Designed for two Sony EX3 cameras for perfect genlock and time code sync

– HDSDI signals from both cameras recorded to Convergent Designs nanoFlash 3D at up to 280 mbps

– Precise monitoring and alignment with 6″ Transvideo CineMonitorHD 3D View

– Easy to setup and transport

– Switches from tripod to handheld shooting and back in seconds

– Adjustable interaxial distance from 0-100mm

– Calibrated camera heights from base mounts

– Floating 4-point micro adjustment screws for perfect mirror alignment

– Single Anton Bauer Dionic battery on Goldmount powers the monitor and both nanoFlashes

Ian Herring, President