Pierre de Lespinois, president and CEO of L.A.-based prodco Evergreen Films, recently used the SpheroCam HDR – a digital, still camera that captures the 360-degree environment – to help transform Iceland’s barren landscape into a faraway planet for a Discovery Channel project. Entitled Alien Planet, the CGI-heavy two-hour special is set to air in mid-2005.
The compact, handmade camera is equipped with electronics and imaging components, and rotates around a vertical axis in a single scan, capturing the surrounding scenery with a color sensor and fisheye lens. An attached notebook computer displays and stores the image data once it is transferred.
Using high dynamic range imaging (which measures real world luminosity without clipping pixels or bleaching regions), the German-made SpheroCam HDR captures up to 26 f-stops, which allows filmmakers to capture a full detailed image, as well as light values and color temperature.
Montreal-based Meteor Studios, where Lespinois is also president, used the technology to create a virtual 3-D set for Evergreen’s Alien with the help of additional images captured with video. Then 2-D and 3-D software was used to recreate the texture and appearance of the entire set in CGI.
‘In the world of ones and zeros, you can mix and match video and stills,’ says Lespinois. ‘You’re only limited by your imagination.’