Aldabra’s ‘elusive’ wildlife soon within arm’s reach


15-November-2012

After more than a year of intensive preparation, a crew of mainly Czechs has just returned from Aldabra – a World Heritage Site --  with more than 9,000 gigabytes of footage to produce the first independent feature documentaries in 3-dimension on the world’s largest raised coral atoll.

 Some of the filming sessions on Aldabra.

This mind-boggling mountain of data was generated by five separate rigs each comprising two cameras to provide the required 3-dimension effect.

Each time a giant tortoise, marine turtle, shark, barracuda, crab or other protagonists moved into the frame, it was immortalised by two synchronised digital cameras.

Another filming session

Speaking to the press earlier this week soon after returning to Mahe after completing six weeks of shooting some of the most incredible and unbelievable images from Aldabra, project director Steve Lichtag described the crew’s experience on the atoll as “wonderful, unimaginable and memorable”, though he said a lot of work now awaits them in the post-production part of the film.

...and another

The crew is very grateful for the exemplary support of the Seychelles Island Foundation (SIF) staff on the atoll without whose help they say the film would never have been made.

“Filming wildlife is never easy but with the expertise and above all patience of the Aldabra rangers – Rich Baxter and Martijn van Dinther – the team managed to capture most of the items on its wish list,” said Mr Lichtag.

Lichtag interacting with his new friend

For New Zealand screenplay writer and film director Michael Havas “landing on Aldabra was like landing on Mars. This is like no place on earth. I think for all of us this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience”.

For his part, leading Czech producer Petr Keller of Starlite Pictures in Prague, whose dream of producing the film has come true, pointed out that there is no doubt the film is going to be a great success and a big promotion for Seychelles and Aldabra itself.

Filming underwater life

He said his company is looking at a worldwide distribution of the film which is expected to be shown in cinemas around the world.

Mr Lichtag added that the post-production part of the film will involve many other people including well-known composer Peter Gabriel whose music will feature in the film.

“We are indeed very happy to have some big names associated to the project,” said Mr Lichtag, who noted that at the same time as the film is expected to be released in approximately six months’ time, a book on Aldabra and the production of the film will also be released.

Some of the crew admiring a shark

The story will be about Aldabra – the genesis of the atoll, its volcanic origins, and geological development, the power of all the living creatures on the atoll.

The producer believes that with the current global climatic changes it can be presumed that in some not too distant future there is always the possibility that the atoll could disappear.

 Therefore the film would be in a way appealing to viewers to ravish the moment when the unsung jewel of the ocean can be seen.

Filming took place both above and under water.

The crew on Le Kir Royal

“It was important to capture the spirit of the tide and the currents which were so fast and simply incredible.

It will be something beyond people’s imagination,” exclaimed Mr Lichtag, who claimed to have made over 40 films in the last 20 years.

Lichtag’s Prague-based company Twin Star Films developed the revolutionary 3-dimension technology necessary for this venture and created the world’s smallest and most portable 3D filming system.

“Even so the team left Prague with a cargo weighing nearly two tonnes.

The script is the work of Lichtag and Havas.

Other nationals involved in the project include British Genesis founder and six-time Grammy winner Peter Gabriel, US music composer Tony Levin, South Africans Mike Rutzen and Bill Parks who work for Dr Samuel Gruber’s Shark laboratory on Bimi Island in the Bahamas.

Reaching Mahe after their adventure-packed filming sessions on Aldabra, the crew expressed sincere thanks and appreciation to all the support received from one and all in making the project possible, namely SIF, captain Francis Roucou of Le Kir Royal, captain Christophe Condé of Twin Spirit – the yacht and catamaran respectively – on which they sailed.

Compiled by M-A. L.

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