The 3-D IMAX film Galapagos, produced by the Smithsonian Institution and IMAX, Ltd., follows scientists on a research expedition to the remote Galápagos Islands, located in the eastern Pacific Ocean about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, South America. The film features Smithsonian marine biologist, Dr. Carole Baldwin, who first visits the famous terrestrial world of the islands and then explores the little known underwater realm, at one point plunging to a depth of 3000 ft. in a modern research submersible! Accompanying Carole in Galápagos were Smithsonian scientist Dr. David Pawson, California Academy of Sciences biologist Dr. John McCosker, Ecuadorian naturalist guides, Juan Carlos Naranjo and Mathias Espinosa, Co-directors David Clark and Al Giddings, Creative Consultant Michael Caulfield, the IMAX film crew, crews of the Florida-based research vessel Seward Johnson and Galápagos tourist vessel Daphne, Smithsonian Science Diving Program Officer Michael Lang, and various observers from the Charles Darwin Research Station and other institutions.
The team spent fourteen weeks in the Galápagos Archipelago making the film: eight weeks in June and July of 1998, and six weeks in February and March of 1999. The effects of El Niño had a significant impact on the islands in the summer of 1998 and, as a result, much of the wildlife the producers hoped to film could not be found. Hence the long return trip in the spring of 1999, by which time environmental conditions on the islands had improved. Galapagos represents the first IMAX 3-D natural history film shot in such a remote location, and the technological challenges that faced the crew were daunting. The crew used the only two IMAX 3-D cameras in the world, and in the absence of roads on most of the islands, thousands of pounds of gear had to be hand-carried across treacherous lava terrain. For filming underwater, cinematographer Al Giddings had to struggle with a 2000 lb. camera system, strong currents, and unpredictable light, visibility, and wildlife conditions.
The stunning results give viewers an "up close and personal" look at the stark landscape and unique wildlife of the Galápagos Islands, and the immersive nature of the large-format experience allows the audience to share in the excitement of a real expedition of adventure and science. But Galapagos represents more than just a film about captivating wildlife and scientific exploration; important scientific discoveries resulted from its production, including the collection of numerous new, previously unknown, species of marine fishes and invertebrates.
This web site provides information about the scientific significance of the film-making expeditions and follows the entire fourteen weeks of filming through Carole Baldwins daily journal entries. "About Galapagos" sends you off to the Charles Darwin Foundations excellent compilation of information about the islands, and "Caroles Q&A" provides answers to frequently asked questions regarding the film. Bon Voyage!
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