Shooting is finished. During post-production, errors are discovered that had previously gone unnoticed. With light-field processing, this is no problem. The technology offers new possibilities for film production and allows scenes to be modified.
The scene is in the can. The film crew has packed up its cameras, rails, floodlights, and monitors. The actors are already on the next set. All takes are safely stored on digital media and are ready for post-processing and editing. The director and cameraperson inspect the material and select the scenes for the initial rough cut together with the editor. It is precisely here that issues come to light which, for all the meticulous planning, create new doubts in the cold light of the screening room and post-production. Did the camera really travel correctly during the tracking shot? Were there little wobbles and lack of focus in there that should not be in the final cut? When working with one or two cameras, this often means that nothing can be changed, because it would be too expensive and too much effort.
Changes are possible even after shooting
This is exactly where lightfield technology comes in, a new kind of tool for recording and above all for post-production. The technology uses a variety of different perspectives, which are recorded on set with multi-camera systems, to alter and creatively adapt sequences. For example, the perspective of a scene can be changed, the depth of field can be shifted, and effects such as virtual tracking shots can be subsequently integrated. All this, of course, has long been everyday practice in studios for computer-generated scenes. In the Moving Picture Technologies department at Fraunhofer IIS, scientists have been working for many years on the application of lightfield technology for use in liveaction movie scenes. The head of the department, Dr. Siegfried Foessel, and his colleague Dr. Frederik Zilly are fascinated by the technological and creative challenges that a practically viable solution entails. “The starting point for our considerations about how expensive, timeconsuming pickups and reshoots could be avoided and how unrepeatable scenes could be used in new film versions were topics in our many discussions with our customers and partners in the film industry in Germany, Europe, and Hollywood,” recalls Siegfried Foessel. “Increasingly, it was the cost and also the generally unsatisfactory results when merging real scenes with virtual, digital effects that drove the search for a solution.” The scientist’s team has been working together closely with the technological and creative side of the film industry on the transition to digital technology since 1998. One of the first digital film cameras to be suitable for practical application, the ARRI D20/21, was developed in the laboratories of his engineers, as was the internationally used easyDCP postproduction software, as he proudly explains while looking at the screen in the in-house cinema.