Jeff Orlowski’s Sundance-winning documentary Chasing Coral explains the cause and effects of coral bleaching, when ocean coral dies once the water temperature raises by a mere 1-2 degrees. To capture the phenomenon, which only occurs at certain specific moments in time, Orlowski tried a number of techniques–including manual underwater time-lapse and more.
“Repeat imagery has been done, but trying to do it underwater is tough, and then trying to do it with repeat video and not just still photos and then trying to control all those factors was worse. Honestly, I think I’m the most proud of the time lapse footage because of the ridiculous effort it took,” Orlowski tells No Film School. “We used every trick we could possibly think of to capture the change over time, which is the whole concept. We know that this thing is happening and we know that it looks different ways at different times. The interesting thing is that the scientists had never documented it quite in this way. Some scientists had done a few before-and-afters, but they’re doing it from a scientific framework and not from an artistic framework, something you could see with your own eyes. “
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