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D.J. Roller, cinematographer/
producer, veteran diver, and founder of Liquid Pictures, recently wrapped principal photography on a new IMAX 3-D film entitled "Wild Ocean." It was shot over two summers along South Africa's pristine wild coast, documenting the annual sardine run. During these "runs," massive schools of sardines swim up the coast in search of food every year. This draws many predators to the area including thousands of dolphins and sharks.
All underwater sequences were shot with two Fujinon HA10X5B-W50 HD Cine Style zoom lenses mounted on a Cameron/Pace Fusion Underwater HDTV 3D camera system. The lenses are encased in specially made lens barrels for the rig and affixed to custom-designed Sony HD-950 cameras. Roller used that system with two of the Fujinon lenses and one back-up.
Roller has led film expeditions on all seven continents but found this particular location to be particularly challenging. According to Roller, it was the combination of Fujinon lenses and the Pace underwater camera system that made it possible to meet the numerous challenges presented by underwater filming.
"The camera technology afforded us longer record times, and the lenses gave extremely sharp images," he explained. "Since the camera and lens are encased in an underwater housing, switching out lenses is not possible. Without the lenses Fujinon developed for the Pace camera, we wouldn't have had the flexibility cinematically to capture the amazing pictures we did."
The untouched, wild coast provides the ideal conditions for the sardines but not necessarily for filmmakers. Sardine runs like the one captured in "Wild Ocean" previously occurred in areas with similar current patterns throughout the world's oceans. Because of over-fishing, the only place to see this natural phenomenon now is on the South African coast. This difficult to reach location was another reason the compact and lightweight Fujinon lenses were well suited for the shoot. "On other underwater projects, we've had the luxury of a research ship and a huge harbor to dive from" he said. "Given that our location was unique and so wild, we took just two 25-foot Zodiac boats—one for support equipment and one for camera equipment—down river tributaries to get to the ocean."