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Working in 3D
"When I came on the film, the first draft of the screenplay already existed and I heard that producer Joe Roth and the Walt Disney Studios wanted to make the film in 3D," Sam Raimi explains about his very first foray in the digital 3D realm. "I thought it was a good idea. I think that for this project, the fact that it introduces the audience to Baum's fantastical world and can give them a sense of dimensionality, a sense of space, is very exciting."

Not only did the project mark Raimi's first in digital 3D, but also that for his cinematographer, another longtime ally, Peter Deming ("Drag Me to Hell," "Evil Dead II"), who remarks that "3D is definitely a different animal. You're working at different light levels. Your choice of lenses is much different than for a 2D film. You're always looking for new ways to cover your scenes or maximize the 3D in the blocking and the staging, as opposed to a 2D movie.

"In taking on the project, Sam was faced with two new ventures, 3D and digital," Deming continues. "We talked a lot about that, about what cameras to use, about shooting in 2D and converting in post-production, a practice called dimensionalization. Shooting on film and converting to digital. We probably spent a month prepping and shooting tests in Los Angeles on two different 3D systems, two different cameras, and film. And then posting all that through 2D or 3D imaging and comparing them all.

"The camera we ultimately settled on was the Red Epic because in 3D, much like your eyesight, you need two images to make a three-dimensional fact," the veteran cinematographer explains about the 3D camera process. "Our eyes are fairly close together and there's no way to get two cameras that close together. So, you end up with a 50 percent mirror and you have one camera conventional and one on top so they're looking through the same mirror at the same subject.

"Yet, the center of each image is only about an inch apart, and you can vary that distance between the center to create various 3D effects. So, it ends up being quite a large structure compared to a normal motion picture camera. We obviously wanted the highest quality camera, but as compact as we could get without giving up quality. And that's what the Epic gave us," the camera veteran concludes.

"Our story begins in Kansas in the year 1905. It's presented in black and white. The 3D is dialed down. The soundtrack will be mono. When we get to the Land of Oz, the screen opens up to a widescreen format," Raimi explains about the opening 18 minutes of the film. "We'll transition from mono into the full 7.1 sound, bring the choir up on the track, go to full color and dial up the 3D. And I hope that together these effects will be a powerful experience for the audience."

"And, while we shot the entire film in 3D, we shot it at a very shallow depth for these opening scenes," Deming adds. "When we get to Oz, we transition from black and white to color. We also go from 1:66 to 2:40 widescreen and we expand the 3D."

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