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5 March 2012

Norman Lomax, Director of Photography for 'Creating the Spectacle!' shares his experiences of the project so far

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I have always had a passion for telling visual stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things and so was intrigued when I was introduced to the 'Creating the Spectacle!' project by Rob Hughes of C-Waves Diving

Despite spending many years running around the world covering different stories, nothing quite prepared me for the sheer impact of seeing Sue ‘flying’ around underwater in her NHS wheelchair.

I guess that says a lot about my subconscious perception of disability and what a wheelchair represents - issues which lie at the heart of the 'Creating the Spectacle!' project. 

My role on the project is to help capture and transfer that experience to as wide an audience as possible by providing imagery which matches the extraordinary nature of the project.

The technical challenges are significant. Both in terms of image acquisition and post-production. These are then compounded by making different edits for a range of exhibition platforms.  Making a film which works in the huge ICCI 360 degree panoramic arena at Plymouth University is challenging enough, let alone working underwater where all the physics of colour management and focussing change.

Luckily, we do have the support of experts such as Cameras Underwater and Aquatica who are sharing invaluable knowledge. All of us are experimenting with a range of innovative techniques, including stitching together DSLR footage as well as using a rig, designed by University of Plymouth ICCI, to create a 360-degree camera. This entailes working a series of Go_Pro cameras suspended in mid water.

There are other personal challenges. The project is disability led.  For me this has meant becoming more aware of a range of reference points beyond my personal experience in order to be able to collaborate more effectively. 

'Creating the Spectacle!' is part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad and I’m reminded of a quote from Pierre De Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games. He said the Olympics were “an opportunity for communities to examine themselves, expose themselves and express their aspirations for the future.” Knowing the work that has gone on in the development phases, I am sure the team will be able to deliver an experience which will, indeed, be a spectacle and it will inspire.

I can’t wait until we go to the Red Sea to film the final footage for the ICCI 360 Arena at Plymouth University. There we should have good light and warm water. Later in the year, we are hoping for a repeat of recent years’ fantastic visibility in the waters around Weymouth and Portland at Easter time. 

The next few months are going to be very exciting.