The Jazz Age

Duggan notes that 3D added volume to the frame. For the party scenes, he said the format gave the frame more depth and detail because as a viewer, you can scan through the party and focus in on the different happenings, picking up detail and dimension.

In one important scene that unfolds at The Plaza Hotel in Manhattan, Tom Buchanan confronts Jay Gatsby. "It’s a very tense scene, with all the cast spread around the room," says Duggan. "As there’s so much three-dimensional volume in the room, the viewer can easily cast their eye around the characters. Although they’re not on the same plane, you can easily move your focus between them. It’s very different from the 2D experience, where you tend to remain focused on a single plane."

The 3D worked similarly in the big party scenes. "There’s so much depth and detail in the parties," says Duggan. "As a viewer, you can scan through the party, focusing in on the different happenings and picking up all the detail, richness and dimension in Gatsby’s mansion, all the way down to the sequined costumes."

In contrast to the opulence of Gatsby’s world is the setting of the "Valley of Ashes," a vast industrial wasteland of coal ash that lies on the route from Long Island to New York City. Several key scenes unfold there. A similar coal ash dump in Sydney was dressed with George Wilson’s gas station and a few other buildings. VFX set extensions complete the set.

"The characters passing through are always in full color, in stark contrast to the monochromatic background," says Duggan. "Fortunately, we had a few overcast days, and when the sun did come out, we cut out all the direct light. It was fairly misty, and we set up a lot of atmosphere in the background for an oppressively hot feel. We kept volume on the characters in the foreground."

Stereographer Alonso Homs praised the adjustability of the 3ality rigs, which came in handy when Luhrmann called for a different shot after rehearsal or between takes. "Baz became very interested in making the actors’ faces look as natural as possible in terms of volume," says Homs. "He always spoke of Stereo-3D as being a combination of theater and cinema, which made me understand just how important the human part of the medium was to him. Used properly, 3D can bring a lot to the story, not only in bringing you into a movie’s world through depth, but by portraying the characters most accurately, through volume. Seeing a character in the same way that we see people’s faces in real life allows us to read them and understand them better."

Soft, but directional lighting was used to create a reflective environment for the costumes, especially the sequin party dresses at parties. According to Duggan, shooting 3D didn’t change the way he lit scenes. He applied the same principles of modeling and creating depth with light as he would with 2D.

In the interest of achieving perfect volume in the actors’ faces, close-ups were often shot with wider lenses, which goes against conventional lensing for drama. "But somehow Simon always found a way," says Homs. "He always found the angle and the lighting to make the cast look fantastic, even when being filmed with a 32mm lens three feet from the camera.

For more information, visit the film’s website at