Making it Happen

The Making of Giant Screen Motion Pictures

Adventures in Production. In creating giant screen experiences over the years, team members at The Stephen Low Company have had some of their own giant experiences. Follow our Adventures in Production.

Collaborations on a Grand Scale. Putting big stories and great scenes on the screen necessitates special collaborations; everything from utilizing the unique skills and knowledge of individuals to gaining the cooperation of organizations on a very large scale. Find out more about some of our Collaborations on a Grand Scale.

Top flight craft. From 3D cinematography, to supersonic aerials, from nature docs to drama and disaster to deep-sea exploration, to capturing top-flight action sports—our team has tackled it all. Learn more about our team on our Team page. ►

Adventures in Production

 A series of articles on our site explores the adventure of making giant screen films, beginning with “The Road to Rocky Mountain Express.”

Super Speedway: the Making of a Motion Picture Classic

Racing Wow.  In 1997, Super Speedway became the first large-format film to capture on-track racing action at actual race speeds. The company developed camera mounts that enabled onboard filming from an Indy Car with an IMAX camera at speeds of up to 240mph. Filmed...

The Making of Rescue 3D

Filmed for presentation in IMAX 3D and 2D, Rescue plunges audiences into the hard, but inspiring work of saving lives in the face of a natural disaster. This documentary project began with a simple, if challenging approach: follow the training of individuals for disaster response and then follow them as they respond to a real disaster.

The Road to Rocky Mountain Express

IT WASN’T MADE IN A DAY. The award-winning giant screen film Rocky Mountain Express is a culmination of filmmaker Stephen Low’s remarkable 30-year career shaping films for the giant screen.

Getting to the Action

One of the top challenges of giant screen filmmaking is getting the camera (and audience) to where the action is, or sometimes, getting the action to where the camera is.

The Big Project

The Right Balance. Most of our projects are substantial in budget and logistical scale—driven by the reality that the giant screen is a very demanding medium. Audiences expect to see things they couldn't otherwise see and they expect to see them better than ever....

Collaborations on a Grand Scale

Successfully capturing the biggest documentary stories for the giant screen requires a range of diffferent collaborations. Every project is unique.

Below is a sampling of just a few relationships that have enabled our big screen stories.

Collaboration can involve everything from consulting with knowledgeable subject specialists, to getting unparalleled access to major events or accessing the sophisticated hardware and infrastructure of large organizations or networks.

Working closely with our project collaborators helps us get significant and authentic moments on the giant screen and enhances the learning impact of our films.

For Secrets of the Universe (2019), a close collaboration with leading scientists, with CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire), and the Perimeter Institute (Canada) facilitated unique access to the world of particle physics and the Large Hadron Collder (LHC), the giant research facility situated on the border of France and Switzerland.

In a scene from Secrets of the Universe, science collaborators share a moment of relaxation on the grounds of CERN with physicist Manuel Calderon de la Barca Sanchez who also narrates the film.

Inside the research facilities at CERN in Switzerland. (A scene from Secrets of the Universe).

Inside the detector assembly at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. (Scene from Secrets of the Universe).

Filming for Aircraft Carrier 3D included unique coverage of RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific), the largest naval exercise in the world with the participation of a more than two-dozen nations. The production secured unique access to film active excercises from the vantage of the air and throughout participating vessels.

On deck for Aircraft Carrier 3D. Carrier deck crew and camera chopper crew pause for a photo op. The production secured unprecedented access to film flight operations aboard the USS Ronald Reagan from the air at close proximity.

Aircraft Carrier 3D features close proximity footage of flight operations aboard the USS Ronald Reagan.

The view from the control tower aboard the USS Ronald Reagan in footage from Aircraft Carrier 3D.

Sailors of the U.S Navy aboard the carrier USS Ronald Reagan (Aircraft Carrier 3D).

The creation of Super Speedway (1997) involved a range of vital collaborations that had to come together to make the film a success. Key collaborations included: the CART organization (Championship Auto Racing Teams), for track and event access; the team Newman Haas Racing which agreed to provide unique access to their drivers and activities as well as support for the camera car. Racing legend Mario Andretti drove the camera car for filming at practices and during race events throughout the season. Team co-owner and celebrated actor Paul Newman ultimately narrated the film. 

Equipped with the IMAX® camera, the camera car for Super Speedway heads down the track at the Toronto Molson Indy race. The car is driven by racing legend Mario Andretti. The camera is in one of several mounting positions engineered expressly for use on the car.

Racing in the rain. In friendly bout of father and son competition, Mario Andretti (foreground) and Michael Andretti (red car) race in the rain—a point of view from the camera car for Super Speedway (1997).

Mario Andretti in the cockpit of the restored 1964 Dean Van Lines Roadster (featured in Super Speedway) which launched his career.

Mario Andretti and Michael Andretti in the pits in a scene from Super Speedway (1997).

Filmmaker Stephen Low confers with Mario Andretti during a camera re-load while filming Super Speedway.

Responding to disaster. A range of special collaborations were part of the complex project Rescue 3D. Focused on disaster reponse, the film followed the international response to the Haiti earthquake and covered the work of civilian and military organizations and hardware. The activities of US and Canadian Forces were covered, including the role of  heavy-lifting C17 aircraft and Chinook helicopters and the participation of the ships and personnel of the Royal Canadian Navy for supply and relief. Image: Canadian navy personnel—shown here with orphans at an orphanage where they provided emergency support.

At the orphanage. A scene from Rescue 3D. Canadian navy personnel work to bring water and supplies and build essential structures in the immediate aftermath of the quake.

In the rubble. A member of the Canadian Forces digs in the rubbble in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake in a scene from Rescue 3D.

The team secured the cooperation of the Royal Canadian Navy to film scenes for Rescue 3D. Focused on disaster reponse, the film included scenes of the Navy’s work in Haiti in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake. Shown: The destroyer HMCS Athabaskan.

The team films air operations aboard the Canadian destroyer HMCS Athabaskan for Rescue 3D.

A Canadian Forces Sea King helicopter lands on the deck of HMCS Athabaskan in a scene from Rescue 3D. The chopper was used to air drop freshwater to survivors of the Haiti Earthquake.

 

A U.S. Air Force C17 in a scene from Rescue 3D. The aircraft were variously used as a platform to transport supplies, provide emergency medical care and evacuate survivors and wounded civilians.

 

C17 pilot Captain Lauren Ross during filming of Rescue 3D.