The first stereo 3D feature film to mix live action with stop motion animation is being readied for an early 2011 release.

The stop motion sequences for Breakthru Films’ The Flying Machine took 25 animators 18 months. That’s an unusually slow schedule because each second, requiring the conventional 24fps, necessitated three exposures each for the left and right eye image.

Over the film’s total 32 minutes that equated to 276,480 single exposures.

For each exposure an animator moved a Canon EOS 5D digital SLR on a stereoscopic IOTA slider from Dragon Stop Motion.

“No technology exits to allow us to capture left and right eye frames simultaneously,” explains VFX producer Franck Malmin. “This makes the process very complex because when swapping from left to right eye positions the animators need to remember exactly what they have changed on the puppets and sets from the previous frame.”

The stop motion sequences were supervised by Tim Allen (Fantastic Mr Fox) at Breakthru’s studio in Lodz, Poland.

The live action was shot against blue screen at Opus Film Studios in Lodz using twin Sony PMW-EX3 camcorders with Zeiss Digiprimes mounted on P+S Technic rigs with footage recorded to AJA hard drives.

Starring Heather Graham and directed by Martin Clapp and Geoff Lindsay, the family adventure celebrates the 200th anniversary of composer Frederick Chopin.

The film premieres in Beijing on Feb 17 followed by theatrical distribution in Poland and China in March.