Multi-award winning cinematographer Dale Bremner has had a long association with ARRI. Having first won the ACS Emerging Cinematographer Award and a Gold Tripod in ARRI’s music category back in 2013, Dale knows a thing o
two about cameras. Recently he undertook one of his toughest shoots in Australia’s Red Centre. For this production he chose the ARRI AMIRA and a set of ARRI master primes.
Bremner explained, “The AMIRA was primarily chosen based on the shoot’s deliverables, requirements and predicted hurdles which included having 4K output integrated into a 3D d
me experience for the Seven Sisters Uluru exhibition in the National Museum of Australia.”
Plates were shot for the dome along with a short 2D narrative film, narrated by an indigenous elder, to accompany the story. According to Bremner the AM
RA was an obvious choice for the project.
He continued, “Firstly, the camera’s reliability factor played a big part as the fact that we were shooting seven hours out of Alice Springs in such a remote and harsh environment gave us no backup sho
ld the camera fail or suffer media corruption. In other words camera reliability was paramount – there was no plan B in case something went wrong. I had taken the AMIRA on previous long-form jobs before and it has never skipped a beat, even in scorching
Bremner also highlighted the camera’s features and usability adding, “The AMIRA’s internal NDs are a big plus as the Australian sun is harsh and unforgiving, especially in the desert. Dust and filters are not always the best comb
nation and keeping the filtering inside the camera was not only completely logical it was extremely practical under those exposed conditions. Some of our setups were on the side of cliffs and on uneven terrain, places where you don’t want to be swapping
The AMIRA’s form factor also played a big part in the shoot as did its power consumption and ease of use as Bremner continued, “The weight and balance of handheld solo operation with the AMIRA was excellent. Considering we were hi
ing and climbing to obtain shots, the camera was often carried and shot straight from the shoulder and the weight and balance of the camera was perfect for long hours in such conditions. Also, next to reliability, power was key. Along with the standard A
EXA and ALEXA Mini, the AMIRA is the best in terms of power consumption. With base camp only having generator power, every battery had to count. Finally having Chris Braga as my one and only trusted and experienced AC and such a huge scale I was often op
rating completely on my own and the AMIRA dominates as the doco solo op setup camera.”
To pay homage to the vastness of the outback and tranquillity of such a spiritual realm the majority of the project was shot using the ARRI 12mm Master Prime lens.
Bremner explained, “A lot of 100mm macro shots were integrated into the projec
as well, dancing at both ends of the spectrum. The spiritual indigenous dreamtime stories are told through the land and history of the indigenous arts and I wanted the camera to be as unobtrusive and to have as little influence on the look as possible.
didn’t feel it was right to add an artistic style or visual signature of my own to the story and the footage conveys results we got as the proof is in the pudding.”
Outside of the plates to be integrated into the project dome piece, the narrative was shot at varied frame rates – predominantly 60fps off a 4ft slider. Bremner and his small crew shot in a multitude of conditions at dusk, dawn, night and direct daylight both inside and outside a sacred cave.
He added, “Magic hour is predictable and safe, however through the intense daytime, the contrast from the cave and the full blooded indigenous elders’ skin tone against the desert sun was unlike anything I had faced before. This presented some fascinating challenges and gave the AMIRA a chance to ultimately flex its dynamic range. I’m delighted to say it passed with flying colours.”
It wasn’t just the AMIRA that impressed Bremner on this shoot, he was also full of praise for his lenses adding, “In my opinion, master primes are without a doubt the pinnacle of technical achievement in modern optics, especially when pushed to the extremities in environmental conditions and the radical and opposing spectrum of focal ranges i.e. the 12mm and 100mm macro. I’m not saying they always offer the correct aesthetic but I chose the master primes for this specific project, primarily due to project’s requirement of integration into a multiple 4K-projected 3D dome experience. The lack of fringing and chromatic abrasions make these lenses a preference for many VFX and 3D integration situations.”
All in all Dale Bremner was delighted with his choice of AMIRA and ARRI master prime lenses for what was undoubtedly one of his most challenging shoots as he concluded, “Given this project, in my belief, there was no better camera in existence for this job. That said, many elements outside of a brand name or high-end sensor exist to create what can be commonly referred to as a pleasing image. This of course is subjective and ignoring the basic fundamental rules and laws of photography – laws that once learned can and should be broken and bent – palette, texture, tone, light quality, reference and psychology equally play their roles. The AMIRA performed as expected, like the tried and tested, premium digital camera it is.”