Capturing footage for IMAX films has by no means been significantly straightforward or low cost. Again within the good previous days, IMAX required 70mm movie, which was twice the width of 35mm movie utilized in typical cinema and nonetheless pictures cameras. It was heavy, cumbersome, and very costly. Even with the transfer to digital, capturing enough decision and element to fill floor-to-ceiling screens required cameras and lenses that simply climb into six-figure value ranges.
Earlier this yr, nevertheless, digicam maker Blackmagic launched its Ursa Mini Professional 12Okay digicam, which is one in every of our Better of What’s New award winners this yr. Its $9,995 price ticket appears tall till you take into account what it could possibly do and the opposite fashions with which it competes. Because the identify suggests, the Ursa Mini Professional can shoot 12Okay footage at 60 frames per second. That’s 60 photographs each second, every with 80 megapixels of decision (12,288 x 6,480), simply sufficient element to refill even the huge IMAX theaters.
Utilizing the brand new digicam is Australian filmmaker Stephen Amezdroz, who’s at the moment engaged on a movie referred to as Koala. It’s slated to be the primary IMAX film captured in 12Okay, which roughly matches the perceived decision of photographs captured on 70mm movie.
“The irony of this complete factor is while 80 % of the koala inhabitants has been underneath menace within the final 12 months or so,” says Amezdroz. “The area I’m in has an overabundance.” He’s capturing in Victoria, within the south east a part of the nation. Koalas had been as soon as a basic a part of the Australian fury commerce, however now the inhabitants has rebounded and vacationers are lured to the realm to view its wildlife. Amezdroz’s movie hopes to encourage vacationers to go to responsibly in a approach that respects the animals habitat. A part of undertaking that activity includes getting these lovable animals up on the large IMAX screens.
Screens as massive as these present in IMAX theaters carry their very own distinctive capturing challenges. “Due to the dimensions of the display screen, you possibly can’t have objects coming into one aspect of the body and exiting on the opposite aspect,” he says. “It takes too lengthy. Or they transfer so shortly that the viewers finally ends up with whiplash. It’s comparable if one thing enters on the high of the body and strikes down.”
That body placement additionally presents challenges in the case of filling up the complete image. “You have got a candy spot within the heart. Your eye line ought to be a 3rd of the way in which up the display screen, so that you body on that foundation,” he says. That may depart additional room on the high that wants filling. Typically filmmakers stretch the content material on the high of the body or use graduated impartial density filters to fade the highest of the picture to darkness and create a easy transition. The additional decision that comes with capturing 12Okay provides extra alternative to stretch and manipulate the picture with out distorting the image.
In keeping with Amezdroz, fades are vital for IMAX movies in the case of each the body and transitions between scenes. A slight vignette across the edges of the picture helps the display screen mix into its surroundings with out making a harsh boundary between the image and the room. He additionally prefers dissolve transfers the place the pictures regularly fade into each other to stop harsh transitions between photographs. “Every part in your peripheral imaginative and prescient modifications and ‘whack’—it’s jarring,” he says.
However earlier than the koalas can present up on-screen, somebody must seize footage of them. Capturing in 12 means big file sizes, which take up a lot of storage. The Ursa Mini Professional 12Okay can compress footage down by 18 instances and nonetheless obtain usable outcomes which are a lot smaller and editable on a contemporary laptop computer. Amezdroz, nevertheless, prefers to shoot almost uncompressed to take care of each final little bit of element. In consequence, he must be extraordinarily selective about how lengthy the photographs he captures are and what takes he chooses to add from the digicam.
As soon as the footage is uploaded, capturing in 12Okay permits for some wiggle room in the case of framing. Capturing at 4K means the body is locked in and cropping reduces the general high quality. At 12Okay, there’s ample room across the edges to “push in” and reframe a scene a bit with out sacrificing element or sharpness.
Nonetheless, as a result of the digicam itself is so small and moveable, Amezdroz feels comfy working it with a small crew and even alone. And whereas the $10,000 price ticket isn’t low cost, it’s significantly lower than the opposite choices on the market that command a number of instances that.
Amezdroz has manufacturing elements to finalize earlier than going into one other season of capturing with the koalas—infants (referred to as joeys) begin to arrive in August. However, even with the digicam and crew sorted, he nonetheless wants the animals themselves to cooperate. “The bloody issues sleep for 20 hours a day and are awake for 4 hours a day,” he laughs. “Thanks heavens a few of that’s throughout magic hour.”