Behind the scenes with Barbie and Ken in 3-d:
When I saw the fun, super-saturated fashion trends for this spring, it occurred to me that the designers might have taken a cue from Barbie and Ken’s closet. With that in mind, I thought why not go on location to Barbie’s Dream house for a fashion shoot? I remembered the bold colors and patterns of the playhouse interiors from my childhood. It would be the perfect setting to showcase the latest trends. Then, to add a playful twist, I decided to add an element of 3-d.
To pull it off, we shot real, live Barbies and Kens on a white sweep in the studio. We had to simulate the pose so that when they were cut out and placed in Barbie and Ken’s world, seated on a toy chair or lounging poolside, it looked convincing. I know my partner, Tony Rodio is a total whiz at technical retouching and could handle the challenge. No problemo.
The 3-D component posed challenges as well. First, we wanted the images to look good with or without the special glasses. As you know, if the entire image were in 3-d, it would be a bit of a blurry mess when viewed normally.
The solution we came up with was to determine specific elements in each scene to render in 3-d. This would give depth and a playful spin to the story without being problematic. I am not sure if this has ever been accomplished before. If it has, I am not aware. Again, I was so confident that Tony could pull this feat off, I proceeded with confidence.
So, the exteriors, pool and rooms of the vintage Dream House were shot separately for the backgrounds and environments. The models were all shot on white. Some props and furniture were also shot separately. The elements on white were carefully cut out and stripped into the miniature backgrounds to form composites. Then the various 3-d elements were cut out and manipulated in a complex process to render left and right eye perspectives with red and cyan channels to create the illusion of 3-d with the special viewing glasses included in the magazine.
I am so fortunate to be able to work with such a talented and supportive array of individuals who make it possible to not only think outside the box, but to execute. Here a few specifc shout outs;
Of course, Tony Rodio was indispensible. But, also, our photo stylist Mary Beth Wetzel. From the first pre-production meeting she totally understood the concept and direction. She was able to think like Barbie and Ken when she pulled all the fun clothes, accessories and props that contributed so much to the overall effect of the images. And her enthusiasm was playful and infectious. Art Director, Robin Richeson Colter did a spectacular job with the layout, per usual. Angela Layman King not only modeled herself, but got all the other models faces camera ready as well.
And, of course, all of this would be a daydream without a fantastic publication like B-Metro willing and able to figure out how to include a pair of 3-d glasses with every issue and showcase such a spread in full technicolor style. So, here is to you, Joe O’Donnell, publisher extraordinaire. I raise my hot pink, plastic martini glass to you. Your support made the whole party possible.