A walk in the park

Craig Colby, director of production for High Fidelity HDTV, discusses the challenges of collaborating with Mother Nature on a 3D shoot for Canadian nature series A Park for All Seasons.
July 28, 2010

Imagine working on a project where you spend eight consecutive days lugging a ton and a half of gear on and off a Zodiac boat and having that be the most accessible of your shoots.

It’s just one of the many challenges that Craig Colby, director of production for High Fidelity HDTV and his crew had to overcome while recently shooting in the Gwaii Haanas National Park, off the B.C. coast and south of the Alaskan panhandle. It’s the site of their first 3D episode of A Park for All Seasons, a series that takes viewers behind the scenes of Canadian parks.

Colby was accompanied by folks from Toronto equipment supply house D.J. Woods, which also helped fund the project. Boats were the most efficient modes of transportation, which meant a lot of equipment hauling over rocky beaches.

Gwaii Haanas is co-managed by the Haida Nation and Parks Canada, and is rife with Haida culture and natural beauty, including a cove filled with century-old totem poles ‘in various states of beauty and decay. And that’s pervasive, you feel it everywhere,’ says Colby.

He remembers an especially miserable day when the rain was coming in sideways and crew members weren’t sure if they were going to land any decent shots. They ended up inside the forest where the canopy and rain gear did nothing to keep them dry, but as soon as they started rolling the cameras, ‘We got the most beautiful shots of this old growth forest with dripping moss, something you would see in a Peter Jackson movie.’

This happened midway through the eight-day shoot and at that point, Colby says, ‘We weren’t sure how many shots we were going to get in a day, and with the rain day, that only created more tension and uncertainty.’

But it seemed Mother Nature wanted to alleviate some of that anxiety. Colby also stumbled upon a grotto through a little valley and rock outcroppings with fallen trees, covered in emerald green moss. It was a sight that quite literally took his breath away.

‘After seeing my kids being born and my wife walking down the aisle, it was the next most beautiful thing I’ve seen,’ he says, noting that the sights are enhanced in 3D. ‘It was spectacular, almost like someone waved a magic wand and created it.’

The episode, also shot in 2D, is slated to air on Oasis HD when season two debuts in January 2011.

As for HiFiHDTV, Colby says there are more three-dimensional irons in the fire. ‘The big part of this summer has been exploring projects we can do in 3D and that’s an important part of what’s coming up for us.’

About The Author
Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.