Thursday, September 1, 2011

Jesse Blanchard knows more about 3-D than you do.

'Shine', Jesse Blanchard's 2-minute, 49-second masterpiece
When I spoke to my buddy Jesse Blanchard about a year ago, he was all excited to build a 3-D rig he'd dreamed up. A couple of nights ago, he invited me over to see the result: a short film that lasts less than three minutes. (If you want to see it, click here.)

It's been a busy year for Jesse. He didn't just build a 3-D rig and shoot a film with it. He built one, tested it, refined the design, built another, tested it, refined the design, built another...

All in all, I saw five 3-D rigs at Jesse's place. I have no idea how many prototypes he went through before the first, or how many tweaks he made to each of the designs once he built it.

What I do know is that through this process, Jesse went from knowing about as much as you or I do about 3-D to knowing pretty much everything there is to know about 3-D. 

My version of Jesse's story is that rig I built last year to do that one effect: with a continuously moving camera, create the impression of going forward in time, backward in time, and then forward in time again. Like Jesse, it took me a year to build a working prototype. Like Jesse, I went through lots of designs. And like Jesse, at the end of the process, I knew more about messing with time than most people outside of quantum mechanics will ever know. 

My result is even shorter than Jesse's: A 60-second commercial, which tells a wonderful little story, but to be honest, the best part isn't the wacky messing-with-time shot. It's fine. It does the job. But a couple of other elements get more smiles and nods of approval.

Will Jesse or I ever recoup the money we invested? Will we ever be compensated for the time and energy we put into these projects? Will we ever get a phone call from Steven Spielberg, begging us to accept a huge amount of money for the opportunity to use what we came up with?

I can't tell you.

But I can tell you this. It's one thing to have an idea, quite another thing to do the hard work of making your idea come to life. 

Jesse may never get an opportunity to shoot another project in 3-D. And I may never have a job that calls for a continuously moving camera that moves through time forward, backward, then forward again. But both of us are a lot better directors now than we were a year ago.