The Jazz Age

Duggan has learned the basics of 3D at a course at Sony Studios in Culver City. "Once you’re over the initial hump, it becomes instinctive," he says. "We maintained spontaneity in the way we worked."

The 3D rig was small enough to work with a Steadicam or lightweight Scorpio telescopic cranes. The camera rig wasn’t much more obtrusive to the actors than a standard sync sound 35mm film camera, according to Duggan. "The smaller mirror box [which houses the beamsplitter] meant the actors could maintain close eyelines," he adds.

Most of the time, convergence remained untouched through the course of a shot—not parallel, but placed in the scene where it would serve the shot the best. The lenses were Zeiss Ultra Primes. Duggan’s choices in terms of glass were limited; a lens system with a smaller front diameter was needed in order to use wide-angles like the 16mm. Wide shots were generally done on focal lengths in the 16-20mm range, medium shots on 21-40mm lenses and tighter shots on 40-85mm. "Rarely did we go longer because it starts to counter the effect of 3D depth, as little stereo separation can be wound into the shot," Duggan says.

On the soundstage, Duggan and gaffer Shaun Conway lit to provide Luhrmann maximum flexibility. The perimeter gantries and greenbeds were lined with 360 degrees of light. Direction and intensity were controlled at a dimmer desk, often during the shot. Softer, closer floor lighting was shifted around shot to shot, and a handheld soft source sometimes followed the lead actors around massive party scenes, lending them additional modeling. Programmable spots swept through the background, serving as backlight.

According to Duggan, director Baz Luhrmann was convinced 3D was right for the project after seeing a number of 3D movies, especially Dial M for Murder

Soft, but directional lighting was used to create a very reflective environment for the costumes, especially the sequin party frocks at Gatsby’s parties. Conway used fixtures he developed, called Tetris lights because they’re rectangular and can be stacked together. "It’s a four-foot-long box, about a foot deep, with six 300w bulbs, all individually switchable and DMX controlled," says Conway. "The inside of the box is all white, so they’re super-soft, but directional. I can also control the spread with egg crates. It’s a light with many increments of level, which allows us to use it as a soft key or fill or just a touch of eyelight."

Duggan says that this type of light also helped to keep the skin tones reflective and glamorous. For keylight, they often used Chimera OctaPlus, which are large, soft and easy to handle, according to Conway. Research revealed that the 1920s saw a popular trend toward architectural lighting and spotlights, so Duggan lit the Long Island mansions with period-authentic sources and freely used the colored spotlights for the parties.

Shooting 3D didn’t really change the way Duggan lit. "I applied the same principles of modeling and creating depth with light," he says. "However, I did learn to avoid certain lighting and camera tricks that you tend to use to create the feeling of depth in 2D, such as hard, backlit silhouettes, which end up looking like cutouts in 3D. Out-of-focus foregrounds in ‘tight overs’ become distracting blobs. We still shot many ‘overs,’ but we kept them dark and just sharp enough to make sense of them. Ultra-long lenses that in 2D create depth by isolating the subject from the foreground and background actually flattened out the image in 3D. With long lenses, you can’t dial in much separation or volume, as the eye can’t merge the images when viewing. It becomes a 2D image."