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Near-Infrared Film Depicts Dreamlike Moments in Nature

“Most of Brindabellas was filmed with one camera and one cameraman in a range of challenging environments, from steep mountain terrain to fast-flowing rivers,” recalls director Glen Ryan.

Directed by Glen Ryan, the film Brindabellas | edge of light features the sky and landscapes of the Canberra region of Australia—in particular the Brindabella mountain ranges—captured in monochromatic near-infrared. Over 140 minutes, it focuses on the interplay of mountain light, air and water as these elements are transformed across the seasons.

Ryan, who is the owner/manager of Silver Dory Productions, and his co-developer, James van der Moezel, head of postproduction at Silver Dory, needed a camera support system that could handle the demanding and diverse location and was able to shoot near-infrared material. Footage was shot with a full-spectrum RED Epic-X camera whose IR cut filter was removed, allowing the capture of near-infrared video at both normal and high-speed frame rates (in 5K resolution).

“Most of Brindabellas was filmed with one camera and one cameraman in a range of challenging environments, from steep mountain terrain to fast-flowing rivers,” recalls Ryan. “The rig needed to be light and compact enough for one person to carry into the field, yet robust and reliable enough to handle the RED Digital Cinema cameras we were using in rain, snow and rapidly rising streams. We found the Compass 25 Sprinter II Carbon Fibre System [from Miller Camera Support] to be the perfect match for our RED rigs: robust and reliable, but still light enough to get into all the locations. The Sprinter legs were also light and easy to deploy in the field.”

Ryan and van der Moezel chose to shoot in monochromatic near-infrared for the heightened visual effect. The images in Brindabellas are not reflecting the temperature of the landscape, as is often the purpose of infrared imaging—they are simply created from light that is slightly beyond the visual range of the human eye. (Light visible to humans lies in a range between about 390 and 700nm, while near-infrared is about 750–1400nm.) Ryan says this technique gives the film a distinctive look and is ideal for capturing the detail of natural landscapes.

James van der Moezel

“In sunny conditions, near-infrared produces a striking combination of dark skies and water, perfect white clouds and ghostly pale, glowing foliage,” continues Ryan. “It also cuts through atmospheric haze and accentuates shadows in a landscape, particularly in the late afternoon or dusk. These bold shadows add an extra dimension to many landscapes and were a key visual component of Brindabellas, rather than the more traditional ‘glowing foliage’ look associated with near-infrared imaging. The aim of the cinematography was to capture a more surreal side of these everyday landscapes and seasonal transitions, and thus reveal them in a slightly different light.”

To learn more about BRINDABELLAS | edge of light, visit www.brindabellas.com.au.

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