Nowell Chooses Pictorvision for “Air Racers 3D”

David B. Nowell, ASC, aerial director of photography for “Air Racers 3D,” recently took Pictorvision’s Eclipse into the air to capture stunning 3D footage that simulates the feeling of a real air race. The Eclipse footage is now being integrated into 3D footage shot by Vern Nobles Jr. for the 38-minute IMAX feature, which is an in-depth exploration of the fastest motor sport on earth, taking place at the annual Reno National Championship Air Races & Air Show.

The final shoot took place earlier this month at Chino Airport (California) and Reno-Stead Airfield (Nevada).

“As it is not permitted to shoot air-to-air photography during the actual races for safety reasons, we decided to re-stage them in grand fashion by assembling a spectacular array of fighter aircrafts, including the P-51 Mustang, Tigercat, Bearcat, and T-6,” explained producer Raul Leckie of Pretend Entertainment, the company behind this IMAX project. The aerial unit was run by helicopter pilot Kevin LaRosa and aerial director of photography David Nowell.

The film captures point-of-view footage for key racer Steve Hinton Jr., an award-winning flyer and son of one of the top fixed-wing movie pilots, Steve Hinton, Sr. Hinton Sr. and Nowell have worked together on a number of projects, including “Iron Eagle 2,” “Flight of the Intruder,” and the groundbreaking feature “Pearl Harbor.”

“I needed to capture what Steve Jr. would see as he raced around the course,” explained Nowell. “To do this, I requested twin RED X camera bodies and twin 10 to 1 (25 mm to 250 mm) lenses. Yes, normally that is too long a lens for IMAX or 3D, but having this size lens enabled me to zoom in longer and get some really dynamic images that aerial coordinator Kevin LaRosa Sr. and I really like to do. We also needed to capture shots at the air speed of a fixed wing plane in racing mode. To make this happen, we needed to be able to bank the camera and make the shots look like actual fixed-wing flying,” he explained. “Since the final footage would be sped up to look like the 400+ MPH speed of the race planes, it was imperative that we had a stabilized system that could roll as we were flying. The only answer was Pictorvision’s Eclipse.”

The Pictorvision Eclipse is a gyro stabilized aerial camera platform. The system’s open architecture design and superior engineering allows it to fly with a wide range of film, digital cine cameras, and 3D camera rigs. The Eclipse has the ability to handle large payloads while maintaining a level horizon and stabilization.

The 3D footage shot by Nowell and Nobles is currently being edited. The final project, “Air Races 3D,” will visually put the audience in the pilot’s seat of highly modified WWII-era fighter craft as they compete in this thrilling race. Produced by 3D Entertainment USA, in association with L.A.-based Pretend Entertainment and Stereoscope, the film will have an industry premiere during the Giant Screen Cinema Association’s Annual Conference at the Texas State History Museum’s IMAX 3D Theatre in Austin on September 21st. It will premiere in theaters throughout the United States and selected territories in early 2012.

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