In this latest instalment of our 'Close Up' series, we take a look at our 3D conversion of Bernardo Bertolucci's nine-time Oscar winning masterpiece, The Last Emperor. PFW's Richard Baker (Creative Director, View-D™) and Matthew Bristowe (Joint Managing Director, View-D™) take us behind-the-scenes of the conversion and talk about the honour of working with the legendary director himself.

Prime Focus World is proud to have delivered the 3D conversion of nine-time academy award-winning film The Last Emperor (1987) for legendary director Bernardo Bertolucci. The 4K 3D remastering of this classic movie was produced by Oscar-winner Jeremy Thomas, working closely with Bertolucci and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro.

Bertolucci was involved in the conversion process from the beginning, approving a twelve shot test sequence produced by PFW at the start of the project and then viewing and approving the conversion at special screenings in London in February 2013. Once the tests were approved, and the style for the depth was set, PFW were given free rein to manage the creative process, which was led by senior stereographer Richard Baker from PFW’s London facility and executed by its team in Mumbai, using PFW’s proprietary View-D™ process. Prime Focus World converted 1262 shots for the 2 hour 48 minute film.

Speaking of the project, producer Jeremy Thomas commented: “[We have produced] a beautiful 4K 3D version of The Last Emperor under the tutelage of Bernardo (Bertolucci) and (cinematographer Vittorio) Storaro. It’s perfect, beautiful, and it makes the film look incredible.”

The Last Emperor was shot with super-wide anamorphic lenses and mostly natural light (due to no lights being allowed in the Forbidden City), and presented some challenges during the conversion. PFW’s approach was to avoid heavy clean-plating to preserve the integrity of the photography, introducing a subtle depth and dimension to the movie. Senior Stereographer Richard Baker said ‘The conversion was designed to be sympathetic to the photography – to enhance the beautiful images captured in camera by Bertolucci and his Director of Photography Vittorio Storaro.’

A further challenge of the 3D conversion was the size and scale of the scenes captured, including armies of thousands; 19,000 extras were used over the course of the film, and the Chinese army was drafted in to accommodate. These scenes required lots of attention to detail and heavy rotoscoping in order to allow the View-D™ artists to create the necessary depth.

“It was a genuine honour to work on this project with one of the true masters of modern cinema,” said Matthew Bristowe, Head of View-D™ Production, Prime Focus World. “We played the depth sensitively, using it to enhance the narrative arcs of the movie. The re-mastered pictures look incredible in stereo on the big screen.”

The Last Emperor in 3D premiered at the Festival de Cannes 2013 & American Film Institute Film Festival, December 2013. 

Watch Bernardo Bertolucci talking about the 3D Conversion of the movie below.



Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Producer: Jeremy Thomas
Studio / Distributor: Columbia Pictures

PFW Supervisor: Richard Baker
PFW Producer: Matt Bristowe
PFW Scope of Work: 3D Conversion, 1262 shots - 
Exclusive Conversion Partner
PFW Lead Facility: London
PFW Associate Team: Mumbai



 PFW Last Emperor brochure

PFW Last Emperor brochure