Sunday 25 September 2016

World’s first near-infrared feature film

I've known for a while that the Red digital cinema camera could take great monochrome infrared moving images. For the past few years film makers Glen Ryan and James van der Moezel of silver dory productions in Australia have been working on a tour de force movie to exploit this, called BRINDABELLAS | edge of light .

It's probably best I let the film makers describe what they set out to achieve ...
BRINDABELLAS | edge of light is an immersive cinematic journey through the sky and landscapes of the Canberra region of Australia – in particular the Brindabella Ranges. The film focuses on the interplay of mountain light, air and water as these elements are transformed across the seasons – from clouds to mist, rain and snow – then frost and ice – and onto creeks and rivers. It explores both the wider montane vistas of the Brindabellas and the more intimate details of the natural flows that are created by these mountains and, in turn, shape the very landscapes they arise from.
The video, shot at 4K resolution, looks superb, exhibiting all the characteristics of near-infrared photography but with the added dimension of movement. The landscapes will look familiar to anyone used to taking such images, with clouds sailing majestically across ink-dark skies above Wood-effect forests, accompanied by minimalist music and effects. There used to be a common phrase in the early days of interactive video ... Every frame a Rembrandt ... and it really applies here.

But there are more than landscapes. The area's wildlife is included. Here's where something extraordinary appears, an unusual feature of an unusual movie. Insect chitin, the substance of which much of their bodies is made, has long been known to be transparent at near infrared wavelengths. You can see this demonstrated clearly, and in minute macroscopic detail, in parts of this movie. Not just chitin either, I wasn't aware that caterpillars might become transparent (or at least translucent).

The film is in 22 chapters, covering five seasons (two summers bookend the production) and you can watch it in up to 4K quality via the production website, YouTube or Vimeo. My 5K iMac can display the 4K movies, given a following broadband wind, and they look superb (although I haven't gone all the way through as yet). Another Koyaanisqatsi perhaps?

PS: Silver Dory have also produced a book/monograph of the project. Selling out fast, apparently.