American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 26

TECHNICAL SPECS
2.40:1
Digital Capture and Super 16mm
Red Epic Dragon, Arri 16 SR3
Vantage Film Hawk V-Lite, V-Series; Kowa;
Bausch & Lomb Super Baltar; Angenieux;
Cooke MK III
Kodak Tri-X 7266
Digital Intermediate

26

May 2015

The Imax film Humpback Whales explores the communication, mating,
parenting and migratory behaviors of the giant mammals that were once hunted
into near extinction.

I

Majestic Mammals
By Mark Dillon

Humpback Whales provides an intimate look into the world of the sublime
mammals nearly hunted into extinction a
half-century ago. The 39-minute Imax film,
narrated by actor and activist Ewan McGregor, tracks the communicating, mating,
parenting and migratory behaviors of the
giant marine creatures.
The movie marks the 38th Imax
release from MacGillivray Freeman Films,
joining other such aquatically themed spectacles from the Laguna Beach, Calif.-based
production company as Dolphins, Coral
Reef Adventure and Journey to the South
Pacific. Humpback Whales continues the
mission of director and company president
Greg MacGillivray, who also chairs the ecofocused One World One Ocean Foundation. "I'm a surfer and diver, and through
Imax 3D films I want the public to understand the importance of keeping the
oceans healthy," he says. "We were looking
to create this character of the humpback
that people would respect and understand
so they would say, 'These are worth helping
so they'll survive the next 10,000 years.'"
Above-water shooting was led by
director of photography Brad Ohlund,
whose work for the production company
dates back to the 1976 blockbuster historyof-flight documentary To Fly! (AC July '76).
Howard Hall, a 20-year MacGillivray Freeman collaborator and director of the Imax
American Cinematographer

hits Into the Deep and Deep Sea 3D, served
as director of underwater photography.
Ohlund and MacGillivray, also a cinematographer, switched between the
production's 2D Williamson W4 and Imax
Mark-II 15-perf 70mm cameras. Additionally, crewmember Robert Walker operated a
Red Epic Mysterium-X, recording in 5K
Redcode raw with compression ratios
between 5:1 and 12:1 to 256GB and
512GB RedMags. MacGillivray estimates
that 20 percent of the film was captured
digitally. The finished film with its mix of
formats was converted for Imax 3D and
Imax Dome presentation.
As always with wildlife material, the
filmmakers were at the mercy of what
unfolded before their cameras. "We create
a script that [serves as] a point of departure," Ohlund says of the preproduction
process. (Stephen Judson is the movie's
writer.) "Then we start thinking about what
we're filming and how to deal with that
color palette. Here we're mostly shooting
the ocean, so we consider as much as possible introducing elements of color that will
correspond to our underlying blue palette."
That includes cutting to a school of yellowand-black-striped fish, or the maroon sails
of a passing catamaran, or wide shots
revealing Hawaii's lush greenery.
Cameras began rolling in 2011 for
about 180 shooting days spanning three
years. MacGillivray had scouted Hawaii and
the Pacific island of Tonga looking for sufficient humpback populations. "I picked loca-

Humpback Whales photos by Brandon Cole, Michele Hall, Barbara MacGillivray and Meghan MacGillivray, courtesy of MacGillivray Freeman Films and Pacific Life.

ily on smoke. "Every interior has a bit of a
gauzy tone that we then took down and
crushed a little more in post," the cinematographer explains. "It definitely gave a
sense of diffusion in the air; you can really
notice it with all the practicals because it
lent them a nice, bloomy effect."
The Age of Adaline was one of the
first features to shoot with a Red Dragon 6K
sensor. Digital-imaging technician James
Notari details, "When shooting spherical,
we shot a 2.40:1 [aspect ratio] with a 5percent reduction, which gave us a window
of 5837x2432. This enabled post to move
the image around if needed. We used a 4K
setting when we were using anamorphic
lenses and a 6K [full-frame setting] for the
spherical lenses. Each day we would create
looks that I ingested into the camera. We
shot on both 128GB and 256GB RedMag
SSDs. I worked on a Light Iron Outpost cart,
color grading and transcoding media
through RedCine-X Pro, using RedColor3
and RedGamma3."
Lanzenberg was very pleased with
his Canadian crew, and credits Adaline
executive producer/line producer David
Kern with putting together "a great group
of keys and leading a fantastic production
team." The final grade was overseen by
visual-effects supervisor James McQuaide
(who also served as second-unit director),
working with Company 3 digital colorist
Stephen Nakamura, who graded the raw
files in DaVinci Resolve 11. "We started
from scratch with the raw files, using the
dailies grade that David and the DIT had
created as a guide," remarks Nakamura.
"David saw what we did in the final, and he
was very happy with it, which is always gratifying to hear!"



American Cinematographer - May 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - May 2015

Contents
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - Intro
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 1
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 2
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - Contents
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 4
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 5
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 6
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 7
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 8
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 9
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American Cinematographer - May 2015 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - Cover4
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