Behind the Magical Moments: Capturing Bahama Blue

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For most people the word Bahamas conjures up images of white sand beaches, rum drinks and great sunsets.  But for documentary director Ian Herring, his perspective changed when he visited in 1996 to film lemon sharks.  “We were standing in a Mangrove swamp,” he explains. “There were full-grown sharks over two meters long in this really shallow water.  It was such a contradiction to see them in this way.  I think coming back, to film again, was to reconcile what I thought I knew with what I witnessed.”

Bahama Blue is a six-part series captured in Ultra High Definition cinematography exploring the diverse ecosystems that are stretched across the chain of limestone islands we know as the Bahamas.  In classical documentary form, Bahama Blue focuses on important actors:  the creatures themselves.  With patience, the team was able to locate and film these animals in their natural habitat.  “Our idea is shift away from the humans and just let the animals and their behaviours reveal the story in a fresh and entertaining way,” says Herring.  “The pressure was on award-winning cinematographers like director of photography Sean White, and underwater camera operators Andy Brandy Casagrande IV and Mark Rackley.  Filming a natural history series like this means managing the three W’s:  Weather, wildlife and water.  It’s never routine.”

This also meant finding a balance with arguably the most famous occupants of the Bahamas: their sharks.  “I understand the obsession,” says Herring.  “Having been in the water with them, you really get a sense of their power and how perfectly adapted they are to the ocean environment.”  With at least forty different types of sharks, the Bahamas has become a world leader in their protection, having fully banned the shark trade in 2011.  “What we learned is that when you protect apex predators like sharks, it benefits the whole ecosystem,” he adds.  “So to focus on the other creatures within this environment was also very attractive to me.”

Bahama Blue (c) 2014 Parallax Film Productions Inc.

How does a filmmaker from Canada navigate such a mysterious and diverse place like the Bahamas?

“The best way is through the researchers and scientists.  They are an amazing network of people who have a specialized knowledge of the Bahamas.  It’s not a large community – everybody knows each other and the research that is going on.  Once you get connected to this network, you discover things you never knew existed.  And someone can tell you exactly where to find them or offer to take you there,” recalls Herring.

This technique resulted in some lucky finds.  “Birds, for example, are hard to film,” he explains.  “They are creatures of the sky and we are creatures of the land.  But coming back from a day of shooting iguanas with wildlife biologist Joe Wasilewski, he pointed out a solitary bird stalking the tidal flats:  the Reddish Egret, a rare white phase type that stands a meter tall.  “My initial reaction to this was a pretty bird standing on the beach, not much more than that,” remembers Herring.  “But Joe pointed out that the egret had a particular way of feeding.  This shy bird would herd the fish in the shallows and get them corralled in a group, then strike and take out a fish.  It sounded amazing, but it seemed really unlikely that it would do so while we were watching.”

“Our director of photography Sean White was filming juvenile lemon sharks from the beach and they had finally arrived.  He said if we want to film the egret we would have to relocate.  It was a classic filmmaker’s dilemma:  a shark in the hand or a bird in the bush, so to speak. My initial response was, ‘No! Don’t move because this bird will never do what you want in front of the camera.’  Within half a minute of me saying this, it suddenly started its hunting behaviour.  Sean made a quick switch and managed to capture its spectacular leaps and corralling.  It was running through the shallows opening its wings, flapping them and herding this group of fish until they were literally bursting out of the water.  It was fantastic! This was a magical moment in the world of documentary filmmaking that required skill but also came down to listening to the local experts and a bit of luck.”

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In addition to the wildlife, the geography of the Bahamas also provided amazing opportunities for filming.  The Bahamian caves and blue holes are unknown to most travellers to the Bahamas because only certified cave divers are able to access these subterranean features.  On one hand they are easier to film because they are not going anywhere, unlike creatures who may or may not show up.  But on the other hand, you must bring everything you need to survive with you, including air and light to see and film by.

“So the technical challenges make it quite dangerous to film.  But we are not focusing on that in the program, the human danger, ” explains Herring. “We purposefully focus on the geology and special nature of these formations.”

With spectacular imagery, Bahama Blue is both entertaining and educational, drawing the viewer into the lives of elusive creatures, yet highlighting the fragility of the ocean environment.  In a market dominated by character-based television programming, Herring believes that there is still an appetite for natural history programming.  “There is room in our lives for us to be inspired and filled with wonder.  There really is a value to that.”

Bahama Blue was produced by award-winning Canadian producers Ian Herring and Maija Leivo of Parallax Film Productions.

Bahama Blue premieres in Canada on Wednesday May 6, 2015 on the Love Nature channel.

Check out our Facebook page and Tweet us @BahamaBlueTV.

Parallax Rides a Bahama Blue Tide to World Oceans Day

Bahama Blue (c) 2014 Parallax Film Productions Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MEDIA RELEASE

VANCOUVER, BC April 21, 2015 – World Oceans Day has taken on new meaning to the production team at Parallax Film Productions. After spending months filming their latest project called Bahama Blue, a bunker oil spill occurred in their hometown Vancouver, just as they were delivering the final episodes.

“We just have a new appreciation for how catastrophic an event like this can be. We know how vulnerable many species are to manmade pollution,” says Director and Executive Producer Ian Herring, “It’s a shame that we only truly appreciate wildlife when it’s threatened or gone.”

The team chose a different theme for their series, though, to capture the beauty and diversity of wildlife in the Bahamas. “We’ve taken a page out of (David) Attenborough’s book,” says Herring, “the best way to motivate people to protect the environment is to inspire them, not just lecture them.”

Bahama Blue (c) 2014 Parallax Film Productions Inc.Parallax started by focusing on the classic A-List Species: sharks, dolphins and whales, but quickly learned that just like there are no small roles, only small actors, the Bahamas were filled with countless extraordinary creatures: rare species of iguana found nowhere else on earth, tiny tree crabs who need to stay wet to breath and a type of comb jelly that predates the dinosaurs. The series blends rich 4k cinematography and macro photography, that allowed the team to film creatures ranging from tiny thimble jellyfish to giant sperm whales. Its signature ‘tide lapses’ and intimate aerials set the creatures in their environment: a view of the Bahamas beyond the beaches.

The series is something of a departure for the Parallax team who is best known for its science and history programming. Their most recent project, Battle Castle, blended computer-generated images, beauty location footage with battle reconstructions to tell the stories of six great castles and their sieges. But Herring believes he’s recapturing something of an art lost to many Canadian filmmakers and he’s convinced that Canadian viewers want to see it. He cites a recent survey they showed that 63% of Canadians or nearly 17 million people obtained their information about Nature through visual media in the previous year, narrowly surpassing those who got information from print sources.[i]

Bahama Blue premieres in Canada on Love Nature Wednesday, May 6 at 10 pm Eastern. Love Nature is a premium nature and wildlife channel, which showcases the animals, landscapes and wonders of our world in a commercial free, family friendly format. Herring likes its placement on a commercial free channel. “We want to take the audience with us on a cinematic journey to this unique spot,” he explains, “without the ads, people stay immersed in the stories.”

Love Nature also sees the power of episodes to inspire. “Bahama Blue lets us see nature in a spectacular new light with beautiful 4k content,” says Marcia Martin, SVP, Original Content, Blue Ant Media. “Airing this stunning new series on the Love Nature Channel allows us to further connect people to the beauty and wonder of nature.”

World Oceans Day is June 8, just before the sixth and final episode of Bahama Blue. Parallax intends to support the worldwide event by sponsoring a Twitter chat with one of Bahama Blue’s underwater cameramen, Andy Brandy Casagrande, to discuss his role creating images that inspire ocean conservation.

Bahama Blue will broadcast in French Canada in the winter of 2016.

Bahama Blue is also scheduled to air starting:

  • May 5 in Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa (EEMA) on Animal Planet
  • May 24 in Italy on Focus TV.

Other international broadcast dates are forthcoming.

For more information and interview requests, please contact:

Delanne Young
Parallax Film Productions
1.604.531.2244
delanne@parallaxfilm.com

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Bahama Blue
Bahama Blue premieres weekly on Wednesdays at 10PM ET/PT on Love Nature. (Check local listings at: http://tv.lovenature.com/schedule/)

Promotional trailer:
https://vimeo.com/124883805

Associated links:
http://parallaxfilm.com//portfolio-item/bahama-blue/
www.facebook.com/bahamablue
www.twitter.com/bahamabluetv
www.instagram.com/bahamabluetv

About Parallax Films
Parallax Film Productions, founded in 1996 by Ian Herring, has delivered more than forty-five hours of blue chip factual programs to broadcasters all over the world. The team uses the latest in film technology to provide powerful storytelling with unprecedented visuals in HD, 3D and 4k for multiple media platforms. Parallax’s recent series Battle Castle, a television and convergent media project, received a nomination for Best Historical or Biographical Series in the 2013 Canadian Screen Awards and seven Leo Award nominations of which they won four, including Best Documentary Series. Their international broadcasters and partners to-date are Discovery Channels (US, Canada and International), National Geographic Channels (US, Canada and International), Love Nature (Canada) History Channel (US), Channel 4 (UK), FIVE (UK), DMAX (Germany), RAI (Italy), TV Asahi (Japan), PBS NOVA and Nature, History Television (Canada), BBC Worldwide and Parthenon Entertainment.

Associated links:
www.parallaxfilm.com
[i] Source: Federal, Provincial, and Territorial Governments of Canada, 2012 Canadian Nature Survey: Awareness, participation, and expenditures in nature-based recreation, conservation, and subsistence activities, p. 23

 

Hiring: CGI Modeler and Texture Artist

Parallax Film Productions is looking for a Maya modeler and texture artist for a documentary series. Must have knowledge of Maya (modeling, texturing, basic lighting, basic animation, and rendering) and Photoshop (texturing). Must have great attention to detail.

Primary duty requires modeling and texturing exact replicas of nautical military vehicles based on historical and modern images (for use by compositors). Other essential tasks will include creating CGI only based shots (engineering explanations).

Must be able to work in a Mac environment.

Knowledge of After Effects an asset. Knowledge of fluid dynamics would be a bonus.

Must be able to work under direction and adapt with intelligence and good humour to shifting priorities.

Pay commensurate with experience.

To apply, submit a cover letter and resume as a single Word or PDF document to jobs@parallaxfilm.com. Please put “CGI Modeler” in the subject line.

No phone calls please.

Hiring: Digital Compositor

Parallax Film Productions is looking for a digital compositor for a documentary series. Must have strong Photoshop and After Effects skills (CS6 or higher). Must have knowledge of compositing in 2.5D using After Effect’s virtual camera in 3D space, working with multiple still images and green screen elements in z-space.

Primary duty requires building virtual 2.5D sets from a multitude of still images and incorporating Maya 3D models into the 2D compositions. Other essential tasks will include keying, rotoscoping, plate cleanup, and set extensions.

Must be able to work in a Mac environment.

Knowledge of Element 3D plug-in an asset. Experience with After Effects for motion graphics design would be a bonus.

Must be able to work under direction and adapt with intelligence and good humour to shifting priorities.

Pay commensurate with experience.

To apply, submit a cover letter and resume as a single Word or PDF document to jobs@parallaxfilm.com. Please put “Compositor” in the subject line.

No phone calls please.

Bahama Blue TV series releases Top 10 Ways to Save the Oceans

Bahama Blue - Shark3 may 21 2014

Parallax kicks off principal photography filming Bahama Blue this month, exploring the islands of the Bahamas through the award-winning lenses of Andy Brandy Casagrande, Mark Rackley and Sean F. White.

[Watch the trailer]

The experience has renewed and reinvigorated our committment to protecting the underwater stars of the show, and inspired us to come up with a list of the Top 10 Ways to Save the Oceans in advance of World Oceans Day, June 8. (more…)

The right camera for shooting Bahama Blue in 4K IS…

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Last week, Kate Webb interviewed Bahama Blue DOP Sean F. White about the three cameras he was considering to shoot wildlife series Bahama Blue in 4K. This week he revealed his choice, and the winner is… The Red Epic-X!

Size, cost, lens compatibility and frame rate were all important factors in Sean’s decision on the camera he will to take with him to the Bahamas when filming begins next month.

But ultimately, the Red’s speed and flexibility was too tantalizing too resist.

“At the end of the day, it’s something that’s going to serve all our needs and more,” says Sean.

“That’s the camera that I knew will need a lot of accessories and data storage, but is going to give us flexibility; in our frame rates, in our resolution, and in our compression rate, so that we can manage the size of the data. That’s a very overlooked feature.”

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The Red can easily be configured to fit inside underwater DOP Peter Zuccarini‘s state-of-the-art underwater housing, and is a proven wildlife camera capable of shooting up to 280 frames per second.

Looks like this little Red is in for an exciting ride! From expeditions through mangrove creeks to dives in deep-water trenches, it will have to withstand exposure to some of the Bahamas’ fiercest elements and biggest predators.

Here’s hoping the sharks don’t like the taste of it.

Shooting a nature doc in 4K: Which camera is best?

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Image of diver in Canary Islands shot on Canon EOS-1D C. Credit: Peter Zuccarini

Parallax researcher Kate Webb interviewed Bahama Blue DOP Sean F. White about the cameras he is considering to shoot this groundbreaking wildlife series in 4K.

Buying a camera is always a big decision, but picking one compact enough to haul through swamps and jungles to shoot wildlife in ultra-high definition presents a dizzying array of considerations for cinematographer Sean White.

“I think the hardest part is comparing the different features of these cameras and scrutinizing them with a fine-toothed comb, and then really going back and trying to visualize whether it’s the right tool for the job,” he said.

Sean will primarily be using his camera to shoot creatures on the topside, such as flamingos, parrots and iguanas, but he also plans to swap gear while crisscrossing the tropical archipelago with acclaimed underwater cinematographer Peter Zuccarini, who already uses a Canon EOS-1D C.
(more…)

Hiring: Digital Media Manager

Our viewers demand more than television programming – we’re stepping up. We’ve built a strong online presence that allows our audience to participate in the world behind the shows we create and we want to build even more. We’re excited to start evolving our digital media strategy and launching some new campaigns. That’s where you’d come in.

Do you love conceptualizing, building and managing custom content for various audiences? Do you have the writing and editorial expertise to produce premium original content for cross channel publications? Have you mastered the art of the online conversation? Are you an online fan yourself? We’d love to have you join our team.

We are looking for someone who understands the nature of online fandom and is an active participant in that world. You need to have the ability to adapt voice and messaging to our different audiences (while also encouraging and managing contributors to do the same) and be an advocate for our fans. You will think strategically, execute with organization and enthusiasm and engage through meaningful content that builds community.

How do we know you can do the job? Tell us about your proven track record designing and implementing successful social media and online marketing campaigns. Outline your experience with day-to-day creation and launching of digital content for multiple platforms. Share your own experiences as a fan online, including both examples of what worked and what did not (and perhaps what could have been done to make the latter better).

If we bring you on board you’ll be doing some stuff that’s really important to us: co-creating, implementing and evaluating a company wide digital media strategy and procedures, researching and developing content for websites, blogs and social media platforms, understanding and creating platform-appropriate content that aligns with each target audience’s interests and needs, responding to and communicating with the various online communities in a consistent, on-brand voice, optimizing content for search engines, defining and conducting analytic programs to improve strategies (just to mention a few).

If you have a Bachelors degree with a major in digital media or communications we’d really like to hear from you… we’ll also give some extra attention to folks who also possess science and humanities degrees.

If you’re excited about this position please write and tell us why. Give special attention to your practical experience and be sure to share one of your successful projects or campaigns that showcases your passion, talents and achievements as a digital media strategist. Please send this document and your resume as a single pdf document to jobs@parallaxfilm.com.

Please no phone calls. If you’ve secured an interview we’ll be sure to give you a ring.

Glasses-free 3D and the transition to 4K-3D at home

In this post, Ian Herring writes about why glasses-free 4K-3D TV could become the next holy grail of home entertainment

Plenty of pundits have pronounced 3D TV dead, but a new generation of technology could offer the reprieve that we in the business have all been waiting for.

The first high-quality glasses-free 3D tablets hit the market this year and are already flying off the shelves. The 10.1-inch Hampoo and eight-inch Gadmei are mercifully ushering in the end of the awkward active-glasses phase of 3D consumer electronics (CE).

That means it’s only a matter of time before a 55-inch glasses-free 3D TV becomes the next must-have in home entertainment — and that, in combination with the other next big thing, Ultra HD (4K), will be just too fantastic to resist.

It makes me excited about the future of 3D filmmaking.

Imagine sitting on your sofa watching an action-packed film or show, such as Parallax’s upcoming underwater series Bahama Blue or Guillermo del Toro’s summer blockbuster Pacific Rim, in glasses-free, 4K-3D.

In the theatre, because of the tint on my polarized lenses, I found some of Pacific Rim’s fantastic creatures looked dark – snapping me out of the immersive experience. This could be fixed with brighter projection in theatres, but also perhaps, someday, at home. With an autostereoscopic 4K-3D TV the picture would be ultra-bright and crisp — much more so than 1080p — just as it was intended.

Which has got me thinking that 4K may be the gateway for 3D to take hold. 4K is a more accessible idea for people to grasp – it’s not a huge leap for people to see that Ultra HD is a logical step from HD as it’s just a better image.

So for now we leave 3D off the table and when the autostereoscopic sets begin to roll out with 4K resolution, I think it will blow people’s minds in the way HD did when it first came out in the mid-2000’s.

And if things go well, autostereoscopic 4K-3D TV is set to become a powerful, immersive and transformative visual medium, and that’s why Parallax is diving in full-force.

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Swimming with dolphins in 4k-3D may be like being there