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On a blustery Monday afternoon, a  sizable  crowd converged on a sound stage nestled in the heart of Pinewood Toronto Studios for a Stereoscopic 3D Production Seminar hosted by the Screen Industries Research and Training Centre  (SIRT). The event made big promises about addressing all aspects of 3D production, from covering the details of production and equipment, to presenting a market overview, to addressing the creative possibilities of using 3D””and then delivered on each of those promises.

The presenters included Bill White (CEO of 3D Camera Company Ltd), Diane Woods (VP of 3reedom Digital), Brent Robinson (stereographer of Silent Hill Revelation ) and Demetri Portelli (stereographer of Hugo ). Collectively, the panel represented a sort of A to Z of the 3D production process, from a great idea for a 3D production to using a 3D rig in the field to reselling theatrical 3D content to television markets. There was a little something for everyone and a lot of accrued experience in these relatively new technologies.

Carolyn Cox, the training coordinator who helped organize the event, knows the importance of sharing information in a rapidly developing area of film production. “I really wanted this workshop to be not only technical but to address some of the myths and fears of shooting in 3D,” says Carolyn. “It’s not necessarily true that it costs too much, or that you have to shoot in a studio with huge rigs. Toronto is becoming a kind of mecca for 3D, and it’s important to share that information so it can stay that way.”

The size of the crowd, surprising for a weekday afternoon, speaks to the fact that Toronto’s film industry agrees with Carolyn’s statement and SIRT’s overall mission. The real draws on the panel, and the presenters peppered with the most questions from the audience, were the working stereographers: Brent Robinson and Demetri Portelli. The detailed questions about focus and convergence, about hows as well as whys, demonstrated that Toronto’s production community is eager to be a power house in 3D production. And the generosity of both Robinson and Portelli in sharing their knowledge provides a clear path to that goal. “Prep is fundamental in a 3D production,” Portelli noted in his presentation. “Every 3D crew has a team member who hadn’t done 3D before. So it’s learning and teaching first, and then it’s prep.”

If SIRT’s 3D production workshop was a learning and teaching day, its overall mission is one of augmenting general preparedness for an entire film production community. Founded in 2010, SIRT’s production studio and lab is a sort of technology playground for digital image capture and post-production. SIRT partners with a variety or organizations, academic institutions, and commercial production companies to keep Toronto’s film industry on the cutting edge of emerging technologies.

“While we work with companies or organizations on specific projects, our goal is to then get that info to the people in the industry as quickly as possible,” say SIRT director John Helliker. “Ontario has a really strong reputation for having crews and production companies who are at the forefront of new technologies. We want to keep it that way.”

SIRT works to link more general-purpose events like the 3D production seminar to hands-on events as well. Indeed, the sound stage where the event was held had the latest cameras and 3D rigs pushed against the wall. The day before this particular event, SIRT had invited 5 instructors to demonstrate 5 different 3D rigs to a smaller group of 20 participants.

SIRT is concerned with the whole work flow of the production process, from image capture to post production to delivery in a multi-media environment. “We think of it kind of as a series of screens,” says Helliker. “What’s the combination of screens you’re going to deliver to, from IMAX to mobile phones, and what’s the most efficient work flow to get [the content] there?”

SIRT’s Stereographic 3D Production Seminar was an excellent example of the organization’s mission in action. And the event was free to the community, requiring only a registration to attend. If you’re involved in any aspect of Toronto’s film community, whether it be industry coverage, production, post-production, marketing”” any aspect, really””there’s no reason not to take advantage of SIRT’s presentations and workshops. SIRT typically offers at least one event per month. To keep up to date on what’s happening at SIRT, visit the SIRT website or sign up for the organization’s newsletter.