Monday, May 4, 2009

Life through a Fisheye

So, I’ve been getting questions from my clients on why I’ve been out of town more these days. Aside from teaching my visual story telling workshops, which keeps me on the road mostly in the summer, teaching my on-line course and my usual out of town assignments, I’ve been working on a very cool project with a friend Logan. He is a documentary filmmaker and has been working on a film for the Imax Theaters. The working title is “The Sky Lines of Texas”. The project showcases the amazing environment and skies throughout the state. The project is due to be completed in the next nine months.

My self-portrait using a full 180 degree fisheye lens on a still camera.

Logan is a good friend and from time to time he helps me shoot and edit my own tutorials for my workshops and talks. We meet often to share ideas and talk about concepts for upcoming projects. When discussing his upcoming Imax film he told me his ideas and ask for some direction on cool Texas locations. He mentioned the problem of shooting so many locations in the limited time he would have access to the rented camera gear and crew needed to shoot such a project.

I mentioned my ability to shoot interval-timed exposures. This means that my still camera can be set-up to shoot an image every 1 to 15 seconds for as long as you have card space. This was great news to Logan. It meant he could focus on shooting the motion stuff while I did the still time lapse images. Definitely more bang for the buck! The idea was to use the still images along with the motion images together in the final film. Another reason this plan was so perfect is because it helped Logan keep the crew small and efficient allowing quick movement from location to location. Often only staying in one area long enough to capture a sunset then moving to another location to capture a sunrise. The gear used to make an Imax film is very expensive that means “ time is money”!

Logan with one of two digital cameras used to make the "Skylines of Texas"

This project is for the Imax dome theaters, which presented a challenge. My still camera would need to have a complete 180-degree lens, which is a very specialized 4mm lens and not often used. In fact as far as we could tell, never used for an Imax film. After a few calls to the larger rental houses, no one was able to help which says a lot because DFW has some of the best gear rentals houses in the country. Logan had better luck and found out that the lens used for the Imax camera is a Nikon mount. Turns out this lens is a rare piece of glass and is made in small factory in Japan. We're were able to get our hands on a second 180 lens for my camera and we hit the road.

This is a raw unedited sample of some of the recent images we've shot. I have to say I'm very impressed with Logan. In the first place this 20 something guy is completely self taught, an amazing director, producer and shooter. In the next place he was able to rework the still images from my camera and correct the perspective to a normal lens. You'll see the original capture in the top of the frame as you view the images.

This article, graphics and photography are protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in part or as a whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author. Text, graphics and photos by Mike McLean