The latest 3D series with David Attenborough starts today on Sky 1 and Sky 3D. Filmed over 5 weeks in the pacific archipelago of the Galapagos, Attenborough explores the incredible biodiversity and natural history of that inspired Darwin during his original visit on the Beagle.
I’m honoured to have worked on the series, spending 5 weeks in the Galapagos during the early summer of 2012. I shot 3D timelapse on a variety of rigs including mirror, side by side and hyper-stereo with separate cameras. Additionally I setup and ran a studio on the island for the more complicate 3D plant growth sequences.
I used a Hurricane mirror rig for the exterior shots with two Nikon D800 bodies. Where possible I wanted the shots to have movement and for that I built a ladder dolly which enabled me to move the rig through the landscapes. Owing to the weight of the rig it was only really possible to have one axis of movement, the dolly. However, with some ad-hoc engineering on location I managed to add a pan. Since Galapagos I’ve built a motorised pan / tilt head especially for heavier 3D rigs which enables three axis moves (pan, tilt, dolly) with a mirror rig. This new head can be mounted on a jib too. This head is currently being used on two new series currently in production.
Also employed was a side by side rig with to Nikon D4 bodies. These were the same bodies I used for hyper stereo landscapes shots, for which I would have the cameras up to 50m apart.
The studio shots were more conventional in that they were a single SLR (Nikon D7000 or D300s) shooting stereo pairs and motion control was added for greater impact. Rotating moves were employed with a new turntable I made for the shoot.
Studio lighting was the greatest challenge owing the regular power cuts we faced and hence I settled for LED lighting. To ensure constant power each light, camera, motion control system and 3D system were connected to a UPS and voltage regulator I designed and built for the series. With a combination of mains and a car battery, each studio camera ran around he clock with no dropped frames in the whole 5 weeks. To help battery life, I linked the LED lights to the motion-control system which switched them off between exposures.