This beautiful film explores the continent of Australia and examines some of the many techniques Australia's unique inhabitants have developed to survive in this vast land of extremes. "Australia Land Beyond Time" was produced and directed by David and Sue Flatman, of Living Pictures, in association with the Museum of Science, Boston, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Cincinnati Museum Center and Museum Victoria (Australia)
In this highly successful IMAX film "Australia land Beyond Time" Director of Photography Malcolm Ludgate ACS used both the IW-5A and MSM-9801 70mm camera systems to great extent. His experience as a blue chip wildlife documentary cameraman enabled him to capture, exceptional images of Australian and its unique animals in their natural environment.
During the making of "Australia Land Beyond Time" the crew spent a lot of energy trying to get close to kangaroos, birds and other fast moving wildlife in their natural habitat. Because the team wanted to shoot from up close rather than be forced to use telephoto lenses to record their behaviour, they developed a mobile camera hide and mounted the IMAX camera in the back of a specially modified four-wheel drive vehicle, so it could be manoeuvred into position and be hydraulically raise off the ground for stability. Despite having to work in a cramped space, the system worked quite well and when the animals eventually moved on, the team simply lowered the vehicle and quietly followed them to the next location with the minimum of disturbance. The film includes some wonderful sequences of Kangaroo's interacting captured using this rig.
Australia is a huge country and travelling by light aircraft was essential vehicle used to get the crew to many of the remote areas for filming. This meant landing on many small isolated dirt airstrips, which had limited or no resources. The whole crew often had to be totally independent, but camping out in the desert under the stars is one of the benefits of working in the IMAX format which searches out unique locations. For one sequence the team camped on a small sand island in the middle of Lake Eyre, a huge salt lake in the heart of the South Australian desert, which only fills with water every ten years or so. Migrating birds somehow know when it's full and arrive there in their thousands to breed when the water, fallen as rain perhaps thousands of miles away, fills the lake. The IMAX footage recorded here looks fantastic, with the oily calm water of the huge salt lake reflecting mirror images of the birds flying above. Other birds, feeding in the shallows with golden evening light on them look equally gorgeous on the giant IMAX screen.
For most of the aerial footage needed for the film, Adelaide engineers Henry Shultz and Mal Brookes also built and modified an extraordinary twin-engine experimental aircraft called an Aircam. Working from a specially developed and modified Aircam aircraft kit, the Aircam was customized to position the pilot at the rear, and hold both camera and operator on the nose which then allowed for spectacular unrestricted filming of the continent. By moving the pilot to the backseat and mounting the bulky IMAX camera along with Malcolm Ludgate this way, it gave the camera a perfect birds eye view and provided the cameraman the best seat in the world for aerial filming. Flying in this configuration however did have it's drawbacks. The cold wind directly in the operators face often caused their eyes to water quite badly, so the team developed an unusual storm trooper style helmet to fix the problem. The extra drag created by all these modifications naturally added some vibration to the tiny lightweight aircraft, which then had to be isolated by the engineers. One issue the builders never did quite get around to solving, was a way of reducing the wind chill factor pilot Kevin Warren and Malcolm experienced, sitting out in the airstream on those chilly dawn shoots!