From the beginning, the mission of the HANNAH MONTANA & MILEY CYRUS: BEST OF BOTH WORLDS CONCERT film was to bring audiences the electrifying experience of seeing Miley Cyrus live—from the vantage point of the very best seat in the house, a seat so incredible, it could give a fan all the angles. With its sharp, crisp imagery and lifelike appearance, Disney Digital 3-D™ proved to be a great medium for transporting audiences directly into the center of Miley’s dynamic performance.
Bruce Hendricks knew that delving into 3-D would involve challenges, especially for Miley, who would have to perform several shows with a whole team of cameras getting up close and personal and following her every move on stage. “Unlike the normal 2-D process, 3-D is best served shooting close and wide. So the performers can’t be too conscious of the cameras, no matter how near they are,” explains Hendricks. “That’s not easy for anyone, but Miley was terrific.”
The artistic and technical process began long before the tour kicked off, as Hendricks forged a rare creative collaboration with the show’s director and choreographer, Kenny Ortega, who kept the 3-D shoot in his mind even as he came up with the vibrant staging and compelling dance moves that make Miley’s performances so much fun. “Production designer Michael Cotten and I worked closely with Bruce to always ensure that we had a production look that would serve the 3-D aspect of the project,” Ortega explains. “Ultimately, the entire design of the tour, including the choreography, lights, video and stage design factored into maximizing the potential of the 3-D.”
With the show specially crafted to be experienced in three dimensions, Hendricks would need the latest state-of-the-art equipment to capture every inch of what was happening on stage…and beyond. That’s why he turned to Vince Pace—whose company, PACE, is the world’s leading innovator in advanced 3-D and Digital Cinema Systems—to develop a photographic system that would help translate the show onto the screen with its live-wire atmosphere intact. Ultimately, Hendricks, Pace and cinematographer Mitchell Amundsen set in motion a custom-crafted system utilizing the groundbreaking Fusion 3-D cameras recently invented by PACE—running seven at a time in the middle of Miley’s show—to film the movie.
Pace was thrilled to be able to put his cutting-edge camera system at the service of bringing audiences a you-are-there experience with the performer that so many are yearning to see. “Miley is such a young, energetic, fun performer; she’s a real joy to watch in 3-D,” he comments.
Pace originally designed the highly advanced Fusion 3-D cameras used to film HANNAH MONTANA & MILEY CYRUS: BEST OF BOTH WORLDS CONCERT with Academy Award®-winning filmmaker James Cameron, who has been a leading pioneer in expanding the creative possibilities of 3-D. These cameras, which work on principles similar to human eyesight, are able to provide a depth of field and perspective never before seen in movie theaters. Cameron first used them to create acclaimed underwater documentaries, but more recently, filmmakers like Hendricks have started exploring how the Fusion 3-D cameras can bring hard-to-capture events, such as sports and concerts, to life in a way that harnesses the full emotional thrill of an in-the-moment experience.
“James Cameron and I set out to change entertainment as we know it by designing the tools necessary to shoot a new form of 3-D, one that is based more on experience than effect,” Pace explains. “These cameras operate much like a person. They have two eyes, in this case two high-definition cameras, and a very powerful brain, that for us is the computer in the system. In a sense, our cameras capture the image just like a human person witnesses an event. Our images give the viewer the ability to experience exactly what it was like to be there.” Filming Miley took the Cameron/Pace cameras into new territory that pushed their limits.
“We used the cameras on this film like an orchestra uses different instruments. Depending on what Bruce wanted for a particular shot, I would choose the right camera for the job. This is the first time that this has been done with 3-D,” notes Pace. He adds that the film also marks the first time that a project captured in 3-D was also edited in 3-D, which occurred under the aegis of sought-after-editor Michael Tronick.
While envisioning, coordinating and shooting the film was a considerable technical challenge for Hendricks and his entire team, he notes that it was also a serious blast for them—in large part because Miley herself was such a pleasure and so cooperative, even with the creative intensity of the project. “Miley is just really focused and professional,” Hendricks summarizes, “and the undeniable fact is that her instincts are great as an entertainer—and getting to capture that in the moment was always exciting.”