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ISLAND OF LEMURS: MADAGASCAR

3D Aerials
"Island Of Lemurs: Madagascar" showcases the first ever aerials shot in IMAX 3D. Douglas used a balloon called the cinebulle that he describes as "a strange flying lawn chair" with a three-foot propeller on the back allowing it to move in any given direction.

Douglas decided early on that the aerials would be shot in 3D, not 2D and converted. Up until now, that had been difficult to do, but with the smaller camera the balloon platform made this possible, allowing the camera to brush right past a tree, floating like a butterfly, or to follow an animal into the canopy without rotors disturbing the leaves.

"The ability to float around in this gentle way was quite a revelation," Douglas attests. "A balloon is a marvelous platform for photography but a small island in the middle of an ocean is not the sort of wind-free environment you'd usually want to find for a balloon. We had to keep working at it until we got the right weather but it was worth it when we did."

In a zero-wind situation, it could move approximately three to four knots, which is walking speed. But if there's any wind at all, control rapidly decreases. Landing was also an adventure.

"When you land, your feet hit first, so I tried to hold them so they weren't pulled underneath me," Douglas recalls. "And when that happens, your face is in the dirt, bumping along through a field of stumps. So there's a strong incentive to land gently."

They also used the balloon on the Avenue of Baobabs, near Morondava, as well as the coastal location of Marovosa Be. "The first morning we went out we had a little pocket of wind that let us maneuver across some gigantic baobab trees in a part of Madagascar that is extremely remote, unbroken and unburned. It was a really great place to shoot opening sequence footage that would give the audience the idea of what Madagascar must have looked like before humans ever came."

When the balloon would set down in remote villages, hundreds of people would come running out of the field. "It was like something out of 'The Wizard of Oz,'" says Douglas.

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