Eric Christiansen, Editor/Post-Production Supervisor
Eric was responsible for the blending of visuals, music, sound effects and narration. The editing process is where the film is made; the shooting is raw material for the editor.
Note: As the editor, Eric's job began after the shoot was completed. He did not travel with the rest of the crew and is therefore responding to a different set of questions.
Does the film make you want to go to any of these places?
Yes. Watching the footage of Greenland makes me want to go there. I love icebergs anyway--they're so different, almost alien--and I'd love to see firsthand the immensity of the Greenlandic icebergs. The aerial shots there are absolutely amazing!
After listening to the crew's stories, I'd also like to see the incredible wildlife of the Okavango Delta. I think we've been a little desensitized by all the nature programs we see on the Discovery Channel and PBS, and I'd really like to experience these animals in the wild, in their own natural territory. As a resident of the Hollywood jungle, I think I'm ready for the Okavango!
What do you feel is this film's message?
I've found IMAX films typically convey a very positive message, and I think this one in particular is wonderfully life-affirming and sociologically responsible. I feel grateful and fortunate to be involved with its production: It's wonderful to be a part of a project that conveys such a strong sense of unity, humanity, and spirituality.
I've learned from this film that the world is an incredibly diverse, but small and fragile place. I think that's the main message: unity through diversity; the fact that the Earth is so small that we're all united or connected in many more ways than we realize. Greenland may look very different, but exactly the same natural processes are occurring in your own backyard! Nomads on the Chang Tang Plateau enjoy sitting down for tea and laughing with their families, even though they're on a mountain on the other side of the world. The people and places featured in this film are just big examples of things you can find at home.
How do you edit the footage?
The post-production process is all computer-based. We start out with 15 perforation/70 mm film, which is developed and then optically printed down to 35mm and transferred to video. AVID, our editing machine, digitizes this video. Once the footage is digitized, I have non linear, random access to it all. I can cut, add, or rearrange frames extremely quickly and easily, by simply asking the computer to play the selected frames back in the sequence I've requested. And if the sequence doesn't play the way I'd hoped, I can easily change it back! Editing with the computer instead of on the film itself creates a "no compromise situation." I can take more chances, and my work is more precise this way: I can easily trim a single frame or two that would traditionally have taken me days. This is a fairly unique situation for a large-format film. Lots of people have edited 35mm film on the AVID system, but we're among the first to use it with 15/70 film. We're pushing the equipment and the software to their limits, but it's been a terrific experience and a very positive one.
Is editing a large-format film any different from editing a "traditional" film?
Yes. Composition is veryimportant for large format! The timing is completely different. On television, the scenes can cut away very quickly, but in IMAX, the screen is so large that people need more time to take it all in. The order and pacing of IMAX images are carefully structured to lead the viewer's eye.
What else is involved in the post-production process?
One of the most interesting elements is the "foley," or sound effects. We're editing all our sound effects in-house, which is rather unusual. You have to be very creative to be good at foley! For instance, there is a scene of a Malagasy chameleon eating a bug. To replicate the sound of his chewing, we recorded a person crushing a stalk of celery in his hand ... it sounds exactly right! Another challenging sound was the flapping wings of a large group of macaws flying off. Vince, the film's recording artist, recorded their actual flapping, but there was a lot of other noise we didn't want. We considered letting a pigeon loose in the studio to record, but decided that could be messy. So how do you re-create the sound of a flying bird? With a nylon sleeping bag cover ... rubbing one end of it against the other creates the perfect "swoosh" sound!
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