Under The Sea 3-D is the latest visually stunning documentary to grace IMAX screens. If you’ve never experienced one of the 3-D documentaries produced by IMAX, you’re missing out on one of the most immersive cinematic experiences around.
Producer Toni Myers has been working in this unique format since its humble origins, editing North Of Superior. “That was the very first IMAX film, made in 1970. I just thought it was utterly amazing and kept trying to work in the format,” she said.
Quickly seduced by the possibilities of IMAX, Myers has indeed been working in the format in various capacities ever since. She served as a producer on Under The Sea 3-D and is quick to acknowledge the difficulties of shooting in IMAX.
According to Myers, the 3-D cameras her production team used for the film were “the size of a bar fridge and by the time you get it in the housing it weighs 1,300 pounds.”
The cameras had to be operated by two cameramen simultaneously and needed to be hoisted out of the water with a crane to reload film after only three minutes had been shot.
“If you think of those beautiful underwater landscape shots tracking towards a giant cuttlefish and consider that it’s two guys pushing a 1,300-pound camera through the water, it’s pretty amazing.”
Dive teams of eight people were required just to operate the cameras, but the technical challenges were hardly the only difficult part of the shoot. Simply finding the underwater stars of the film was challenging enough.
“The fish don’t hit their marks, so the whole film is a testament to director Howard Hall and his great skill. Because there’s very little you can predict,” says Myers, adding, “We start with a shopping list of the species that we want and plan expeditions around that. Howard is in touch with marine biologists who are studying the shooting locations and can give us predictions about the species we’re interested in.”
Of course, finding certain species proved to be incredibly difficult due to depleting populations.
“I think we had to travel something like 600 miles to a new location just to find the sea snakes we wanted because they’re so depleted. We’re not kidding when we say that they are all wallets, shoes, and hand baskets,” says Myers.
Under The Sea 3-D opens across Canada tomorrow.