The Blog

Grape Shot

The film was shot in 3D in 35mm for the Denbies Wine Estate in England. It was filmed with 4 cameras over the course of two years, 1990 – 1992. It was photographed by Richard Hardy and myself and produced by The Timelapse Company for Iwerks Entertainment. The film played to the public in 3D for over 10 years. The principle location was Robert Mondavi’s Private Reserve Cabernet field in the Napa Valley. The time between each frame was so long, 1 frame each 1/2 hour, that we had to grow the vines inside a studio to block out the Sun. We provided artificial growing lights. But, since no one had ever grown outdoor vines indoors, we had to insure the two vines for $1,000,000 each. The Insurance company required a back up generator to provide power to the grow lights and climate control in the event of a power failure. The first year, the Mondavi Vine Specialist said that we had to provide the vines with a period of darkness to simulate night. The produce the “breathing” you can see in some of the shots. At night, the plant would fill with water, during the day, the water in the plant would evaporate and the plant would sag. For each frame, the grow lights would go off. The set lights would come on and run for 1 minute to stablize brightness. Giant voltage regulators insured a constant voltage, otherwise variations in the power grid would be seen in the exposure. The two 3D cameras would take a picture, then, the set lights would go out, and the grow lights continue. The longest continuous shot was over 3 months of the grape bunch turning from green to purple, with 1 frame every 1/2 hour. During the 2nd growing period, we ran the grow lights 24 hours a day, and the plants loved it. They ripened 3 weeks ahead of the crop outside. The Mondavi Vintner made a bottle of wine from the grapes, and claimed it wasn’t too bad. Image what a bottle of that would be worth!

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