When Producer-Director Greg MacGillivray conceived Grand Canyon Adventure 3D, he knew that he wanted at least one sequence in which the audience members would reach out and try to touch things that were hanging in space in front of their faces. In an underwater or outer-space film these moments can come naturally. Fish float in crystal clear water, or spacesuit gloves float in the Space Shuttle, just urging you to touch them.
But in the Grand Canyon, perhaps the most magnificent setting on earth for a giant-screen IMAX 3D film, it’s difficult to get things to float in front of your eyes. Sure, there would be exciting and engaging moments when the camera would run through a splashing rapids, during which the audience would feel as though they were getting doused by buckets of water, but Greg knew that if he wanted this fun, almost magical, 3D feeling, I’d probably have to be created with the help of visual effects.
It was after the Writer, Jack Stephens, finished the script thatGreg added a sequence for the main titles, which included fantasy bubbles blowing out over the audience from a waterfall, from the splashing oar of a kayak, and from the kick of a character running through the water. The challenge became how to achieve this sequence: how to design it so that it would work as fantasy, reality, fun, and fact. In Greg’s mind’s eye, he envisioned bubbles coming off the screen and out toward the audience, hanging in the air with the head credits of the film titles written across their glistening surfaces. A month later, he selected Alan Markowitz, of Visceral Image Productions, to produce the computer graphics work for the sequence.
Alan Markowitz: The 3D opening title sequence I produced for “GRAND CANYON ADVENTURE” was a year-long collaboration with MacGillivray Freeman Films, which was initially conceived as a series of live-action “slice-of-life” moments that, when combined with the likes of floating bubbles and sweeping water effects, would ultimately motivate a theater audience to reach out and attempt to touch them. Greg wanted this opening sequence to literally make a “splash” since it was his first venture into 3D filmmaking for the giant IMAX screen. And during an exclusive screening in Irvine, California, the week of Earth Day, it did just that. With over 1,200 excited children standing up to reach out and interact with the elements seemingly coming off the giant screen, I couldn’t be more delighted with the results.
Greg MacGillivray: The end result, probably the most ambitious single computer graphic title sequence ever produced for the giant screen, is, I think, stunning – and conveys to the audience the joy and importance of water to all of us who live on land. I was able to give a fun, light introduction to a serious and dire problem. Juxtaposing contrasting emotions is an important part in making films interesting and surprising. I’m happy that the audience feels as I do that the entertainment and excitement conveyed with this sequence is well worth the price of admission.
The reviews for the film had been strong, the first thirty being as positive as any film that we’ve ever released, including “EVEREST.” Several have called particular attention to the opening title sequence. [See below]
“The opening scene was probably the most eye-catching of the entire film. When the water droplets and waterfalls combined with IMAX 3D, the result was simply out of this world.” – Carli Saldsman, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
“I thought it was cool the way the bubbles came out at the beginning and you could try to touch them and then they popped.” -Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s 8-year-old son.
“Hang on…this movie isn’t for sissies. The movie begins with one the most splendid displays of 3-D animation I’ve ever seen, and it’s during the credits! Great droplets of water come whooshing at viewers, with several bigger drops adorned with the names of the filmmakers and stars.” – Linda Cook, Quad-City Times, Davenport, Iowa