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Shooting and Editing California Sea Lions

Rio Films' first foray into documentary filmmaking shot on Canon XL-1 By John Virata

Setting up a shot at Santa Barbara Island, Ca.
The California coast has some of the most spectacular sea life in the United States. California Gray whales, Great White Sharks, sea otters, flying fish, dolphins, and porpoises are just a few of the animals that inhabit the 1100+ miles of shoreline.  Marinas up and down the coast run whale watching excursions every winter as the Gray whale makes its way down the coast to Mexico where they deliver their calves.  Sometimes though these excursions don't find whales, but there is one sea mammal that they are almost sure to locate on each trip and that is the California sea lion. Graceful and fast in the water, the California sea lion is protected by international treaty and can live more than 20 years in captivity. It is unknown how long they live in the wild.  According to the National Marine Mammal Laboratory, which conducts research on marine mammals,  more than 200,000 California sea lions live off the California coast. Filmmaker Alan De Herrera recently completed a documentary on the California sea lion called California Sea Lions- An Unforgettable Encounter. Narrated by actor Sean Astin, California Sea Lions is De Herrera's first film under Rio Films, the film production company he founded that currently focuses on marine and environmental documentaries. Rio Films spent the last 24 months shooting on and around the Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara, California to get the footage for California Sea Lions. The film has been chosen as an official selection at the Newport Beach Film Festival, the Woods Hole Film Festival, and the Channel Islands Film Festival. DMN senior editor John Virata spoke with De Herrera on what it took to shoot these fast moving mammals in a marine environment and assemble the film.

Digital Media Net: Is California Sea Lions Rio Films' first film?
Alan De Herrera: Yes, this is our first film under the banner Rio Films. We are currently in production on a film about the Channel Islands and we plan to make natural history films permanently. We do have hope to eventually do IMAX films in the frame-digital format.

DMN: Do you have any formal training?
AH: I attended Fullerton College and majored in photography with an emphasis on nature. As far as filmmaking, I'm primarily self taught. I never attending any film classes or had any special instruction. Just a strong will to learn and create. I taught myself how to film underwater, from planes and helicopters and all types of topside filming. I studied a lot of National Geographic photos and watched a lot of IMAX films.

DMN: How long have you been working in the DV format?
AH: I've been working in the DV format since 1997. I switched to shooting in frame mode when I purchased my first Canon XL-1 in 1998. I prefer the look of this format over interlace because it give me the same look as my photos.

DMN:What cameras and lenses did you shoot California Sea Lions with?
AH: We used the Canon XL-1 to shoot with the 16x and 3x lens. I also used a Century wide-angle adapter on the 3x lens for fisheye shots. We also used the Nikon adapter along with a 100-300 zoom for major telephoto. The camera has a multiplication factor of 7.2X.

Slideshow of Riofilms filmmakers on location.


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Related Keywords:California Sea Lions- An Unforgettable Encounter, RioFilms, Alan De Herrera,

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