Most of the 3D films you’ve seen in recent years actually have 2D origins. They’re shot in the standard two dimensions, and then converted into 3D in post-production. Fans of action films, superhero sagas, and other high-intensity, big-budget flicks, have had the chance to see quite a few movies in 3D this year. With what seems like a new 3D film being released every week, the need for artists to work in post to get those movies converted has increased.
These stereoscopic artists often work on Nuke design software and other proprietary programs to isolate every single shot of the 2D film and add the illusion of depth to the image.
“Basically, you take a 2D image and separate it into two so you can work with them in the 3D space,” says Jake Steininger a 2011 Game Art grad who works as a stereoscopic artist at conversion company Stereo D. “My job is to take the image, determine what should pop out on the screen, and go about splitting it up that way.”
Jake’s background in art – specifically game art, and the computer animation skills he earned at Full Sail – helped him land the job at Stereo D in 2013. Since then, he’s moved from the company’s Burbank, California offices to its Toronto headquarters, and contributed to projects including Iron Man 3, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
As a stereoscopic artist, Jake’s typical week involves being given two or three shots that he’ll work on isolating for conversion, under the supervision of his lead. Jake and his co-workers will give each other feedback, but when he’s in the midst of dissecting a shot, he’s often working alone. Each film is different, but he’s usually on the same project for about three to five months, and it makes its way into theaters shortly after. Busy season for stereoscopic artists is usually from November to July, as they finish up projects slated for release during the summer blockbuster season. While he can’t say what he’s working on next, Jake did work on last summer’s Terminator Genisys, which he says was one of his most enjoyable projects to date.
“I always get that little high when I see [a movie I worked on] in theaters,” says Jake. “I think, ‘Oh yeah, this was actually a thing that I worked on at some point.’”
When he’s not at his Stereo D desk, Jake keeps his character design skills fresh, which is the area of focus he fell in love with while studying at Full Sail.
“I’m working on polishing up my art skills, studying human anatomy, and working on texturing and modeling,” says Jake. “I’m pretty happy where I am, but eventually I would like to get into the gaming side of the world, preferably as a character artist, but we’ll see.”