The Corinthia Hotel

Behind the scenes of a 3D film shoot

How do you bring people closer to the experience of a place, before they set foot through the door? For us it's all about enticing the viewer, and we love to find new ways of doing this. In Heston's Sweetshop we used things like binaural sound, perfumed scent, and augmented reality to evoke the Fat Duck experience. In The Craftsmanship of Care, it's slow mo stereoscopic film.

Here we take a look behind the curtain to give you an insight into how this 3D film shoot came together.

Behind the Scenes

The Corinthia Hotel

The Craftsmanship of Care is the philosophy behind The Corinthia Hotel London, where guest services are built around the principles of elegant authenticity, attention to detail, and made to measure. Designed to be exhibited internationally at private events, our film aims to capture the spirit of the hotel for an exclusive audience of business travellers.

Deciding how to shoot

To bring this story to life we decided to shoot with a high speed Phantom camera, which is designed to capture a high number of frames per second. This gave us the flexibility to reduce the film's pace in certain places and create highly immersive, slow motion scenes.

Creating in 3D

We then had to decide what approach we would take to creating the stereoscopic 3D effect on film. Traditionally this is done by shooting a scene through two identical cameras at the same time. The cameras are set up side by side to recreate human vision, with each camera representing the separate images seen by each eye. By changing the distance between the cameras (and therefore the offset of the images) you can change the viewer's perception of depth in the shot, with their brain doing much of the work!

In this instance we opted for something different; a beam splitter rig which was developed by our 3D cinematographer Rob Black and DoP Paul Lilley. This was great for our live action shoot as it allowed us to use just one camera setup, but split the input using mirrors to create a left / right output, as with a two-camera setup (it can, however, limit you when it comes to lens size options).

By combining the Phantom camera and the beam splitter we were able to really immerse the viewer in the finer details of the hotel through detailed, 3D slow motion scenes.

Shooting 3D for cinema screens

One thing we did need to keep in mind was that the film would be shown on large, 9m cinema screens in New York, LA and beyond. When it came to offsetting the left and right images in post-production, we had to remember that any amount of offsetting would appear much greater on a larger screen. Offsetting the images too much could potentially cause eyestrain and headaches for the audience - not such a good idea!

There are only two similar screens in the UK, and neither were available for us to use, which meant we had really limited testing capabilities. This made the process - from film shoot right through to the edit - all the more challenging, with no room for error.

Learning to be flexible

Flexibility is a big part of film shoots, and something you need to learn fast. Some shots might not be attainable due to timing restrictions or logistical reasons, so they have to be dropped. At other times you might find new, more interesting angles when you are actually there in the scene; it's all about taking advantage of unforeseen changes and better opportunities.

A great example of this in The Craftsmanship of Care is the image of the young lady walking through the curtains. As she emerges, the sun creates a perfect lens flare behind her. Rather than post-production trickery or complex lighting rigs, this was down to being in the right place at the right time and adapting our approach to get that perfect shot.

That being said, this is no replacement for forward-planning and attention to detail, especially on a shoot where getting in the way of the guests and disturbing their experience is simply not an option. Expect long days, late nights, and early mornings!

Post production

Whilst on set we also created a set of HDRIs (High-Dynamic-Range Imagery) for every location we shot, with the lighting still set up. These images are used to create realistic reflections and lighting for post-production work, and meant we could get any special post production effects to fit in the scene seamlessly. For instance, the quotes that appeared on screen throughout the film were creating using HDRIs to make them feel embedded in the scene rather than simply laid over the top.

We also added spot sounds in post production, such as a champagne hiss and the match strike, which enhance the viewing experience even more.


Steve Swanborough

Date published

22 August 2014