Creators and Distributors of the giant screen experience

Land, Sea, Air & Beyond.

Showcase

Land, sea, air & Beyond…

By Land, Sea, Air and Beyond

Transporting audiences into some of the biggest stories ever, has meant putting crews and cameras into some extraordinary places—on land, in the sea, in the air, and beyond. Along the way, we have advanced cinema innovation and achieved some remarkable milestones.

We have dived aboard Russian subs to the Titanic and captured ground-breaking science unfolding in the abyss, we’ve flown with elite fighter pilots to capture a giant combat training exercise and a myriad other intriguing undertakings.

In each case, it’s been an honour and a delight to be able to bring these moments to audiences on the giant screen.

 Below: Unique moments from our work organized by theme—Land, Sea, Air and Beyond

land

Showcase: Land

Across the Land

Bird’s-Eye -View. Skyward (1985) offered audiences a bird’s-eye view of bird flight—the first experience of it’s kind. Skyward put the viewer in formation with a flock of Canada geese in  flight in a grand and lyrical portrait of these graceful creatures.

A Different Close Up. Several years in production, Skyward involved the hatching, imprinting and rearing of a flock of geese by a naturalist. The birds were familizarized with flying comfortably with a camera boat, allowing unprecedented proximity. The film would spawn other initiatives, including conservation efforts at the re-establishment of geese and crane migration routes using ultra-light aircraft.

Life in the Pond. In Beavers an intimate portrait of a shy and nocturnal creature revealed the enormous possibilities for large format natural history filmmaking, spurring interest by IMAX Corporation and the installation of IMAX theaters at natural history museums world-wide.

Celebrity Rodents. Exhibited around the world, Beavers (1988) became a family-favourite and helped turn these under-appreciated and even vilified rodents into global ambassadors for conservation. The classic was re-released in 2019 in a new director’s cut version with additional footage.

The Biggest Dam Movie You Ever Saw. Filmed in the shadow of the Canadian Rockies, Beavers (1988) drew audiences from around the globe deep into the remarkable amphibious life story of the beaver.

A New Dimension

The Last Buffalo 3D (1990) unleashed a new wave of cinema. Filmed in stereo (IMAX® 3D™) using a dual IMAX camera rig with beam splitter, The Last Buffalo demonstrated the immersive impact and storytelling potential of  giant screen 3D.

Ultimate Speed. In a portrait of racers, Super Speedway (1997) captures the drama of championship racing and the thrill of ultimate speed. The camera car (seen here) is driven by racing legend Mario Andretti.

Ultimate Speed. In a portrait of racers, Super Speedway (1997) captures the drama of championship racing and the thrill of ultimate speed. The camera car (seen here) is driven by racing legend Mario Andretti.

Father and Son Duo. Super Speedway (1997) follows the fortunes of Michael Andretti during the racing season. The camera car (foreground) is driven by racing legend Mario Andretti.

In the Pits. Filming pit action for Super Speedway (1997).

Steel Wheels

Rail-based transportation has been an important focus for the company’s output, mirroring Stephen Low’s own fascination and work experience with rail. Rocky Mountain Express (2011), The Trolley (2018), Train Time (2020) and even Mark Twain’s America (1998) have featured rail transportation and heritage.

Across a Wild Land. Filmed from and around locomotive CPR2816 Rocky Mountain Express (2011) retraces the epic 19th century building of the Canadian Pacfic Railway.

Steam Journey. Rocky Mountain Express (2011) features CPR2816, “The Empress”.

Light and Steam. Night filming of Rocky Mountain Express (2011).

Night scene. Rocky Mountain Express (2011).

Transit Adventure. The Trolley (2018) follows the roller-coaster history of the electric trolley or tram.

Tracking Trolleys. Filming the new generation Flexity tram on the streets of Toronto for the The Trolley (2018).

Place de la comédie, Montpellier, France. A tram landscape from The Trolley (2018).

sea

Showcase: Sea

Into the Sea

From giant waves to abyssal mysteries, from coral ecosystems to submarine technologies, to collossal naval power, oceans have been an important dimension in the company’s filmmaking. Our work has featured everything from waves and surfing (The Ultimate Wave Tahiti) to hydrothermal vents (Volcanoes of the Deep Sea) to naval armadas (Aircraft Carrier) to the world’s most famous shipwreck (Titanica).

The Ocean Deep

Deep-sea exploration has been a key thread in the company’s work. In 1991, the team organized a major international expedition to document the wreck of the Titanic 12,500 feet below the surface of the Atlantic. The result was Titanica (1991)— a record of the expedition and an authentic telling of the Titanic story featuring survivor Eva Hart.

Light in the Abyss. Titanica was filmed from twin deep-sea submersibles, Mir I and Mir 2 at a depth of 12,500 feet. The Russian submersibles were retrofitted with advanced HMI lighting systems—the brightest illumination ever taken into the deep ocean. The effort enabled the team to penetrate the ocean gloom and capture unprecedented footage of the Titanic wreck and debris field.

Mir Dives. Filming Titanica involved twin Mir submersibles. The steel-shrouded dive spheres carried three occupants two-and-a-half miles under the sea in a cabin six-and-a-half feet high and five feet wide. The average dive took 18 hours from the time the hatch was locked to the time it was opened up. The launch procedure took about 30 minutes before the Mir submersible started its descent. Falling like a brick in the ocean at 100-feet per minute, it took two-and-a-half hours to reach bottom. Once there, the crews could function from 12 to 14 hours at near-freezing temperatures before returning to the surface. The recovery—lassoing the sub, hauling it to the pickup clamps and onto the ship’s deck—could take from 45 minutes to an hour.

A New World. Weaving a story of deep-sea adventure and groundbreaking scientific discovery. Volcanoes of the Deep Sea (2003) offers up unprecedented coverage of deep sea hydrothermal vent communities located along the Mid-Ocean Ridge. 

Life Re-imagined. In Volcanoes of the Deep Sea (2003) an exploration of black smokers—seafloor openings that vent poisonous high-temperature mineral-saturated fluids—sparks an investigation of the nature of life itself. 

Naval Power

Capturing aspects of naval power has taken our team into multiple settings—from training aboard frigates and destroyers, to air operations aboard a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier to full-scale international naval fleet exercises to nuclear submarine operations.

Armada. Filmed during the world’s largest naval exercise (RIMPAC), Aircraft Carrier 3D (2017) explores the history of naval power and scope of modern naval operations as well as the central roll of the aircraft carrier.The film captures the astounding activity and air operations aboard a giant Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, presenting authentically, the true scale and drama of carrier and fleet naval operations to giant screen audiences for the first time.

Carrier Action. Aircraft Carrier 3D (2017) features close coverage of flight operations aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, including unprecedented helicopter coverage of take-offs and landings on the giant ocean-patrolling platform.

Carrier Action. Aircraft Carrier 3D (2017) included close coverage of flight operations aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, including in-the-cockpit action scenes with jet fighters.

Disaster and Response. In 2010, our team covered the aftermath of one of the worst disasters of the 21st century—the Haiti Earthquake. With coverage from the disaster Rescue (2011)  explored the critical contribution of civilian and military agencies to the alleviation of suffering in the aftermath. In this image: The team films the Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Halifax underway as part of the disaster reponse.

HMCS Athabaskan in deep Atlantic swells. A frame from Rescue (2011) .

Filming ships of the Royal Canadian Navy for Rescue (2011) .

Surf King. Surfing legend Kelly Slater catches a wave in a scene from The Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3D (2010).

air

Showcase: Air

Into the Air

Transporting audiences into some of the biggest stories ever, has meant putting crews and cameras into some extraordinary places and achieving some remarkable milestones…

Into the Wild

Stephen Low’s first film for the giant screen was Skyward (1985), a film created for Expo 85 in Tsukuba, Japan and the first of several films by the young filmmaker that would break new ground for giant screen cinema. Beavers (1988) and The Last Buffalo (1990) and later Volcanoes of the Deep Sea (2001) and Secrets of the Universe (2019) would yield ground-breaking new ways of experiencing hidden dimensions of the natural world.

Bird’s-Eye -View. Skyward (1985) offered audiences a bird’s-eye view of bird flight—the first experience of it’s kind. Skyward put the viewer in formation with a flock of Canada geese in  flight in a grand and lyrical portrait of these graceful creatures.

A Different Close Up. Several years in production, Skyward involved the hatching, imprinting and rearing of a flock of geese by a naturalist. The birds were familizarized with flying comfortably with a camera boat, allowing unprecedented proximity. The film would spawn other initiatives, including conservation efforts at the re-establishment of geese and crane migration routes using ultra-light aircraft.

Powered Flight

Aerial photography has been an important dimension in many of our giant screen projects, but several have expressly featured the technology of powered flight, including Fighter Pilot, Legends of Flight 3D, Rescue 3D and Aircraft Carrier 3D. Two of Stephen Low’s earliest documentaries revolved around the design of aircraft: Challenger: An Industrial Romance (1979)—a 16mm film about the development of the Challenger jet and; The Defender (1986)—a portrait of maverick Canadian aircraft restorer Bob Diemert.

Air Force. Filmed on the ground and in the air at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag, features the personnel and assets of the U.S. Air Force as well as those of forces from around the world, giving a unique perspective on the scale and training involved.

A Pilot’s Journey. Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag, follows the experience of pilot, John Stratton and others as they navigate the world’s most demanding combat training exercise. 

Armada. Filmed during the world’s largest naval exercise (RIMPAC), Aircraft Carrier 3D (2017) explores the history of naval power and scope of modern naval operations as well as the central roll of the aircraft carrier.The film captures the astounding activity and air operations aboard a giant Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, presenting authentically, the true scale and drama of carrier and fleet naval operations to giant screen audiences for the first time.

Carrier Action. Aircraft Carrier 3D (2017) features close coverage of flight operations aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, including unprecedented helicopter coverage of take-offs and landings on the giant ocean-patrolling platform.

Shaping the Future of Flight. What is involved in building a jetliner? Set against a century of powered flight, Legends of Flight 3D (2010) tracks the design and fabrication of an entirely new generation of jetliner. Our film team followed the evolution of the new aircraft over several years, revealing in a 3D giant screen experience, the extraordinary steps in the shaping of the complex high-performance flying machine from carbon fibre and hundreds of thousands of components.

 Legends of Flight 3D (2010) 

 Legends of Flight 3D (2010) 

Carrier Action. Aircraft Carrier 3D (2017) included close coverage of flight operations aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, including in-the-cockpit action scenes with jet fighters.

Disaster and Response

In 2010, our team covered the aftermath of one of the worst disasters of the 21st century—the Haiti Earthquake. In Rescue (2011) in-depth coverage from the ground and the air revealed the human and material scale of the disaster, and explored the critical contribution of civilian and military agencies to the alleviation of suffering in the aftermath.

Evacuation. A Canadian Forces C17 evacuating survivors of the Haiti Earthquake in an aerial scene from Rescue (2011) .

beyond

Showcase: Beyond

Beyond

The giant screen always stretches our perception. Sometimes telling the biggest stories means taking audiences (and the production team) into entirely new and unusual worlds: worlds imagined or re-created from history, dangerous and forbidding places, even places a camera has never been, or may never go again.

Bird’s-Eye -View. Skyward (1985) offered audiences a bird’s-eye view of bird flight—the first experience of it’s kind. Skyward was Stephen Low’s first giant screen film—a  project he directed for IMAX Corporation and showcased at Expo 85 in Tsukuba, Japan.

Amphibious adventure. Beavers (1988) utilized a variety of specialized techniques to depict the amphibious lifetsyle of the beaver. A key to the success of the film was the months the crew spent scouting locations and filming in clear mountain water. 

Amphibious adventure. Beavers (1988) utilized a variety of specialized techniques to depict the amphibious lifetsyle of the beaver—including filming in the wild, the re-creation of some habitats and scenes in tanks in an open-air studio environment and even the use of a giant crane to film a sweeping panoramic shot of the giant beaver dam.

The Deepest Journey. Featuring narration by physicist Professor Manuel Calderon de la Barca Sanchez, Secrets of the Universe 3D (2019) tracks the scientific quest to understand the invisible forces around us. Propelling audiences deep into the machineries of the largest scientific instrument ever built—the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, Switzerland—Secrets of the Universe probes the international effort to advance particle physics—our understanding of the smallest and the largest forces in the Universe.

The Large Hadron Collider at CERN, Switzerland goes into action in Secrets of the Universe 3D (2019).

New Dimensions

The Last Buffalo 3D (1990) unleashed a new wave of cinema. Filmed in stereo (IMAX® 3D™) using a dual IMAX camera rig with beam splitter, The Last Buffalo immerses audiences in a hybrid 3D world that juxtaposes living creatures and wilderness habitat with the emerging steel representations of a sculptor (Canadian artist Bill Lishman).

Mood and Magic. A visual 3D poem set against the dramatic landscape of Southern Alberta badlands, The Last Buffalo contrasted an ecosystem of flesh and blood creatures with representations in steel by Canadian sculptor Bill Lishman—seen at his forge in a scene from the film. The Last Buffalo 3D was showcased at Expo 90 in Osaka, Japan and set the stage for a revolution in 3D cinema.

The Ocean Deep

Deep-sea exploration has been a key thread in the company’s work. In 1991, the team organized a major international expedition to document the wreck of the Titanic 12,500 feet below the surface of the Atlantic. The result was Titanica (1991)— a record of the expedition and an authentic telling of the Titanic story featuring survivor Eva Hart.

Light in the Abyss. Titanica was filmed from twin deep-sea submersibles, Mir I and Mir 2 at a depth of 12,500 feet. The Russian submersibles were retrofitted with advanced HMI lighting systems—the brightest illumination ever taken into the deep ocean. The effort enabled the team to penetrate the ocean gloom and capture unprecedented footage of the Titanic wreck and debris field.

A New World. Weaving a story of deep-sea adventure and groundbreaking scientific discovery. Volcanoes of the Deep Sea (2003) offers up unprecedented coverage of deep sea hydrothermal vent communities located along the Mid-Ocean Ridge. 

Epic History

Threads of history weave their way through many of our giant screen stories: from visions of 19th century America narrated in the words of one of the nation’s greatest writers, to the building and sinking of the Titanic, to the history of trolleys and railroads, or lessons of maritime power through the ages. Transcending time and space is what cinema is about. The giant screen has offered a powerful window to help us bring alive the past: through the projection of rarely seen photographic images or stereograms of people and past centuries, the telling of lost stories, or the resuscitation of moments or machines of vanished eras.

Mark Twain Alive. Mark Twain’s America—3D (1998) weaves the words of the famous author and humorist into scenes of his America—a land of exploding industry, civil war, steamboats, steam trains, of romance, innocence and possibility.

Across the Sea of Time 3D (1995) tells the story of a young migrant who seeks a new life in New York City. A groundbreaking IMAX 3D motion picture directed for Sony Pictures Classics, Across the Sea of Time made use of high-quality stereo glass plate negatives from the 19th and early 20th centuries to bring New York history alive on the giant screen.

Disaster and Response

In 2010, our team covered the aftermath of one of the worst disasters of the 21st century—the Haiti Earthquake. In Rescue (2011) in-depth coverage from the ground and the air revealed the human and material scale of the disaster, and explored the critical contribution of civilian and military agencies to the alleviation of suffering in the aftermath.

Beyond Devastation. A frame from coverage of the 2010 Haiti Earthquake from Rescue (2011) .

Evacuation. A Canadian Forces C17 evacuating survivors of the Haiti Earthquake in an aerial scene from Rescue (2011) .

A Timeline: Shaping the Story of Big Cinema

Follow the evolution of filmmaker, company and industry with chronological highlights from our work, our collaborators and our impact across the years. Scroll through our world of giant screen cinema in the Timeline.

We are creators and distributors of the giant screen experience. We capture and tell the biggest stories ever told, illuminate new worlds and propel our audiences on adventures that astound. Our experiences bring alive giant screens in leading museums and science centers around the world and generate unique learning opportunities for audiences of all ages.