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Each container had a platform mounted and secured for the dances. “We even concealed a trampoline in a container,” production designer Carlos A. Menéndez explains. “In the end, what mattered most to me were safety and the dance. Those were the first two things on my checklist. The third was showcasing the most amazing views of Miami we could get.
The arrangement of the containers was crucial. They were set to frame downtown Miami and Miami Beach in the background.” The designer also had to keep in mind that the 3D cameras came with extra equipment that needed to be concealed. “Crash has a specific style of lighting, which is fantastic,” he says.
“I have a specific design style. We worked it all out together. There were three 3D cameras with a tremendous amount of gear attached, which made it a whole different game than a regular movie. I was constantly trying to hide all of that.” Scott Speer had never shot in 3D before and credits director of photography Karsten ‘Crash’ Gopinath and the film’s stereographer Nick Brown with guiding him though the process. “I had to learn to shoot in a different way than I would for conventional 2D,” he says. “But I was lucky enough to have an amazing crew.”
Dance lends itself naturally to 3D, says Brown, and the filmmakers were able to maximize that effect with innovative camera work. “Scott and Crash were very open‐minded about trying new things and shooting in unconventional ways. We were able to create volume and depth that is totally comfortable to watch.
“We set shots up specifically to get the most out of the 3D medium,” he continues. “It’s not used for gag effect, like a hand sticking out in front of the screen. We’ve created moments that look really, really good. The choreographers had to be aware of creating layered dances, so we could get a lot of depth in the shot, but for the most part they choreographed the piece and then we figured out the best way to capture it in 3D using the camera positions and moves.”
Producer Jennifer Gibgot was amazed at how successfully the dances translated to the screen. “I didn’t anticipate the dance looking this good in 3D,” she says. “We were able to take specific moments in the choreography and utilize the 3D and the dancers to heighten the effect. It makes it a more exciting moviegoing experience, that’s for sure!” With a fourth ‘Step Up’ film now under her belt, Gibgot never ceases to marvel at the endurance and commitment of the performers who make them possible.
“Dancers are the hardest‐working people in the business,” says Gibgot. “They are one of the reasons I love making these movies. They don’t make a lot of money; they do it strictly for passion and nothing stops these kids. They love what they do so much that they show up every day excited to do it. It doesn’t matter what you throw at them—and we’ve thrown a lot. In fact, even if the cameras aren’t rolling, they’re still dancing. They can’t stop themselves!”