Alain Derobe

Alain Derobe, Stereography Supervisor, passed away Sunday March 11, 2012. Internationally renowned 3D expert, Alain Derobe had just finished supervising the live 3D shooting of the feature film “Astérix & Obélix: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” directed by Laurent Tirard. Before that he had supervised the 3D shooting and grading of “Pina” by Wim Wenders, which was nominated for best feature documentary Oscar. A few weeks earlier, Alain received the Special Jury Prize from the International 3D Society of Los Angeles. Alain was working in France. The award was accepted on his behalf by Howard Preston.

After  initial studies in chemistry, and later architecture, Alain’s passion for visual phenomena led him to the Ecole Louis Lumière and IDHEC (now La Femis) cinema schools. He later returned as a professor. Co-founding member of AFC (French Association of Cinematographers) and member of the CST (French Image and Sound Technical Committee), he was also co-founder and first president of the UP3D (Union of 3D professionals).

Alain specialized in 3D images from 1992, after a career as feature film and commercial Director of Photography from 1966 to 1990. Following an airplane accident, he ironically specialized in Aerial Cinematography. He was also a long-time technical consultant in large formats for the Futuroscope Theme Parc, and he participated in the manufacturing of various multi camera systems, including Circorama 360°.

After his first 3D shoot,  he developed a passion that would last for the rest of his life. He is the inventor of a 3D technique and philosophy called the “Natural Depth Method.” That was the foundation of every film he worked on with his team, which included his daughter Josephine, who has been following in her father’s footsteps. In his approach,  pre-production expertise, starting sometimes during script development, was essential. He said, “The key to quality 3D depends above all on the will to use a new form of language as well as a coherent approach to this newly conquered depth; one must not be subjected to 3D but build with it.”

Alain and I spent hours in February at the AFC Micro Salon discussing his upcoming textbook on 3D. The book is beautifully written, wonderfully illustrated, articulate and witty. I hope that Josephine will carry the project to completion.

After our meetings in Paris, Alain gave me a bottle of Nuits Saint Georges to carry back to New York. We drank it last night in his honor.

The worldwide cinema community regrets the great loss of this unique man who was enlightened by a true vision of research and invention aimed to serve creativity.

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