A very brief overview of the Where Memories Sleep Project including behind the scenes footage of production.
Where Memories Sleep is an immersive cinedance performance that is designed to introduce new audiences to Antarctica and the science undertaken there.
The installation, inspired by Jason’s trips to Scott Base in 2016 and 2018, combines live and pre-recorded dancers projected on to a bespoke glacier set and the fulldome at Wellington’s SpacePlace.
The project is a collaboration between Jason O’Hara (creative director, motionographer, documentary maker and scenographer) and Warren Maxwell (musician), and is supported by a team of professional dancers.
The wall of my MDes office is slowly being taken over by small prints from the Antarctica: Sixty Shades of White project. It represents a tiny proportion of the 1TB of data, stills and video I collected while on The Ice in October. It is still very early days but at least five possible collections/projects are emerging … this will keep me going for years!
One of the first things you do when you visit Scott Base in Antarctica is to go “field training” where you learn survival techniques and spend a night camping in -20ºc.
After two hours driving in the Hagglund tracked vehicle we arrived at our camp site with Mt Erebus standing guard. We slept in tents very similar to those that Scott used and made a cooking area with blocks cut from the snow. The Field Trainers from Antarctica New Zealand were superb. That wonderfully New Zealand combination of friendly and relaxed but totally on to it and experienced.
So join Warren and I on a very quick, lighthearted look at camping in Antarctica.
A real highlight of our expedition to Antarctica was camping out on the ice with a team of scientists/divers at Cape Evens. And a highlight of that highlight was when we dropped a GoPro down one of the dive holes to get a glimpse of the world under the 2m thick sea ice.
Little did I know that seconds before I pulled the camera up a Weddell Seal cruised by to check out the rope (this footage has been edited because it sat on the bottom doing very little for a while).
Earlier that day Warren had dropped a hydrophone down the hole to reveal the constant chatter of the seals – wait until you hear what he captured! The background audio on this pales in comparison.
The divers cut a hole through the ice using a “heat drill” and park a modified shipping container over the hole to give them a sheltered work area.
After much research I have opted to take a Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera as my principal video camera. Although it shoots at a maximum resolution of 1080p it records in RAW and ProRes formats with a very wide (13 stops) dynamic range. It’s tiny form factor will suit a “run and gun” style of documentary while still being a very robust unit in a Camtree Cage. It’s two big weaknesses are it’s sound quality and battery life. I’m planning to overcome these issues with an external mic going through an A Box preamp and the primary audio being covered in a separate Zoom Recorder. As for batteries … well I’m bringing heaps for a start but also planning to use an external pack which I can even wear under my jacket to keep warm if I need to. Another plus of the BMPCC is the ability for me to use Nikon lenses on it via the very impressive Metabones Speed Converter. It even uses the same battery as my Nikon Coolpix A which will permanently travel with me as a pocket camera.
Stills (and backup video) will be primarily covered by my old faithful Nikon D800 – also fitted with an external battery pack. POV and underwater shots will be covered by GoPro Hero 4.
Now I have officially started my MDes (Masters of Design) and the pre-trip planning shifts into a different phase. For the past few months it has been total emersion into all things Antarctica, and looking at artist models, more recently research shifted to include the logistics of photography in sub-zero conditions so a gear list could be formed and any new equipment ordered. With those under control it is now into design strategy.
On the office wall a plan is evolving: some sort of hybrid diagram combining a content strategy and audience analysis with a media/distribution strategy sandwiched in between.
From this a number of possible directions will be identified and drawn up as journey maps.