Dolphin Cam Discussion

by Michael D. SellersPaul Mockler (our underwater cinematographer), Ken Levasseur (dolphin specialist), and I had an interesting conference call yesterday to discuss ways that we can achieve a kind of “dolphin cam” — means of communicating the point of view perspective of a dolphin including high speed underwater travel and the way that a dolphin experiences sonar. There are some really interesting things that we’re going to do which have never been done before:Outrigger MountWe will be building a special underwater rig which can be trailed from an outrigger on a boat with some degree of auto-control allowing it to move through the water among dolphins. So, imagine 3-4 dolphins swimming alongside a “mechanical dolphin” which is our point of view. We would experience being in among the dolphins moving at speed, including leaps out of the water and other movements.Dolphin CamWe are going to be able to mount a small camera on a dolphin. This picture shows a rig which the dolphins at UNEXSO are used to wearing as part of a scientific experiment. In the experiment, the rig monitors their heart rate and other internal factors as they dive at depths of up to 100 feet. We will replace the monitoring gear with a small HD camera.Dsc_0100Dsc_0089SonarWe are also working on a system which will be able to convey the way a dolphin experiences the use of sonar. The scenario we’re looking at involves a dolphin looking for something in an underwater cave or at the entrance to such a cave. With Ken Levasseur’s help, we are designing an FX shot wherein we go see the sonar “light up” the dark area in a way that arguably approximates the way a dolphin uses both vision and acoustic information and integrates it.These are small touches that have to work in the service of the story — but if we are able to achieve visual things that haven’t been done before, and do so organically in the service of the story, it will help elevate the film and create some very dynamic visuals which are particularly helpful in creating a trailer that has a certain “wow” factor.

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~ by Michael Sellers on November 28, 2007.

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