Creative Loafing interviews filmmaker D.J. Roller and his work with IMAX 3D photography. Roller most recently served as director of photography for the documentary, Wild Ocean 3D, and worked the on films, U2 3D and Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D.
Is it challenging to find new subjects or “frontiers” for documentaries?
Yes and no. It’s hard filming a [fictional] story, because every story has been told before, and it’s the same with documentaries. It seems like everything’s been shot before, but with the advent of 3-D, everything that’s been done before can be done again in 3-D. 3-D IMAX photography brings the audience closer to the unattainable image. You can capture for the audience what it was like for you to experience something. I know divers who saw Wild Ocean and told me afterward that while they were watching it, they forgot that they weren’t underwater. One of them said, “I started doing my breathing patterns like I was diving.”
How heavy are IMAX cameras? Why don’t you just sink to the bottom?
The cameras are so huge, it takes two people to lift them out of the water, but they’re balanced so well that it’s not a problem in the water. You have to manhandle it to move it on the surface, but in the water, you have to be very delicate and precise with it when you’re filming. It’s still a large mass, so even moving it underwater takes a lot of energy. It’s a workout – we eat well every night, because we work up such big appetites.
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