Prime Focus has recently converted Walt Disney Pictures and legendary director Tim Burton’s black-and-white, stop-motion comedy horror Frankenweenie to stereo 3D. As exclusive stereo conversion partner, PFW was able to work closely with Burton, VFX Supervisor Tim Ledbury and VFX Producer Jonny Finch, and ultimately execute full creative control of the 3D conversion on the show. Richard Baker, PFW Senior Stereographer of London, creatively led the charge across Prime Focus World’s global production facilities to deliver the entire 3D conversion of the movie.
Frankenweenie is a remake of Burton’s own 1984 short film. It tells the heartwarming story of a boy who conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life. More than 2,000 artists, production and support staff at Prime Focus’ stereoscopy facilities in London and India collaborated to deliver 1,518 3D conversion shots for the film.
Prime Focus Cofounder and Chief Creative Director Merzin Tavaria said, “‘Frankenweenie’ marks Prime Focus’ first 2D to Stereo 3D conversion for Walt Disney Pictures and working with visionary director Tim Burton was truly delightful. The Stereo 3D conversion was tremendously challenging, as it was our first stopmotion full-length feature film. The set was larger than any usual stopmotion animation film set, and was one of the most unique framebyframe styles in stopmotion filmmaking. We explored the potential of Stereoscopic 3D to the maximum and we believe that we have made every sequence visually thrilling.”
“We wanted the 3D to be as immersive as possible, to enhance the emotional impact of the film,” said Richard Baker, Prime Focus World Stereographer on Frankenweenie. “3D for me shouldn’t be a window into the screen. You need to feel surrounded by the movie to become truly immersed in the story. This was central to our planning when designing the 3D and creating the depth script. We had the opportunity to exaggerate the scale and depth much more than we would on a live action show to really heighten dramatic moments, and we were also able to combat the miniaturization of the puppets by using depth as a creative tool.”
Richard was assisted during the conversion process by Prime Focus Stereographers Jimmy Phillip and Barry O’Brien. Jimmy, who creatively led the Mumbai team, travelled to London to work with Richard and Barry on the look before returning to India to ensure consistency across shots.
“The beauty of stopmotion animation is that the majority of the shots are long, lingering and locked off,” continued Richard. “The pace of the film is naturally slower, giving the audience more time to absorb the detail in the scene. But this also demands more attention to the 3D overall, particularly with the sculpting of the characters. We worked very hard designing the stereo look and Tim (Burton)’s enthusiastic approval of our efforts was more than gratifying.” he concluded