Despicable Me: Space for Comedy – Shooting in 3D

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“Despicable Me” is the new 3D film starring Steve Carell, Russell Brand, and Jason Segel. The film, which was directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud, is being released by Universal on July 9.

Not only is Despicable Me Illumination’s first film, it is also the first project that the team has produced in 3-D. Before the layout began, the producers and directors knew that Gru’s world would be further embraced by audiences if an extra dimension was added. They requested that the screenwriters look for opportunities to utilize 3-D as they crafted their script, but only when it made logical sense. The screenwriters were guided in their decision making to insert 3-D suggestions in such scenes as when Gru and Vector fire their array of missiles, when airships fly past or when smoke trails from a vehicle float out across the audience.

Whether it be during the death-defying shrink-ray heist, explosions in midair from errant missiles or on the rollercoaster ride on which Gru takes the three girls, the animators aimed to bring the audience into the journey with the characters of the movie. The filmmakers also discovered that they could use the space as an opportunity to create comedic effect. Since this was a relatively new domain for them, it gave them the chance to deliver laughs that come at very unexpected times.

Producer Chris Meledandri was adamant that the team consciously used the space appropriately, as opposed to a simple 3-D transfer of a 2-D look. He reflects: “The utilization of the dimensional space helps to define the visual look of the film. There are many sequences in the film where we simply take advantage of the dimensional space in subtle ways. Our goal is always to immerse the audience in the film and to make them feel like the film’s environment is expanding around them. We also use the action to put the audience right smack in the middle of it. Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin had tremendous fun in staging and boarding these sequences.”

“From the beginning, we envisioned this as a 3-D movie,” adds producer John Cohen. “We needed to find someone who understood how to make a 3-D movie and how to tell a story from shot to shot and scene to scene. We found a fantastic stereographer in John Benson, who was 3-D specialist on Coraline. He moved to Paris and worked on this movie from the very beginning.”

From the start, the filmmakers knew that they wanted Despicable Me to be in 3-D. They explored different scenarios in which to utilize the extra space, and then began to layer the story with more and more 3D-friendly sequences. The filmmakers even built a model of the entire rollercoaster at Super Silly Fun Land to enhance the way it appears on screen in 3-D. Director Chris Renaud offers: “We layered 3-D in more and more as the movie went along. We were all seeing the importance of 3-D and how the audiences embraced it. Having an element that is completely built creates a cool experience. The thing with designing in this media is that you can’t trick the camera, so everything has got to be there for it to feel like a true experience.”