(Source: Variety.com) Much of the impact of “The Cove,” which collected the documentary feature Oscar on Sunday night, comes from underwater footage that could not have been captured without help from Lucasfilm spinoff Kerner Optical.

Kerner runs a hush-hush “skunk works” that solves high-tech problems for private industry, government contractors and the occasional three-letter agency. Since Kerner’s expertise is in models, miniatures and camera engineering, many of those problems involve exotic cameras.

For “The Cove,” which exposes the slaughter of toxin-laden dolphins for meat in Japan, director Louie Psihoyos needed HD cameras that could sit on the sea bottom undetected and record the events at the surface. Kerner production manager Kevin Wallace became “rock camera supervisor” for the movie.

Wallace, who appears in the pic, said, “We tried to envision being there and tried to create something we wouldn’t be able to detect, and we felt if we couldn’t detect it, no one else would be able to either.”

They placed Sony HD cameras that recorded to hard drives inside faux rocks sculpted from urethane, coated with epoxy and then painted to match surrounding rocks.

Once in place, the cameras ran continuously. Each night the pic sent a team to collect the cameras and replace the hard drives, but the rock cameras were so convincing that they were hard to locate.

“Sometimes they were a little warmer than the other rocks so we could see them on night vision,” Psihoyos said.

Psihoyos remembered hanging from a cliff for hours at one point to avoid detection by the locals and realizing that “the guys in charge of the rock cameras are getting this amazing footage, and they’re asleep.”

“We absolutely couldn’t have made the film without those cameras,” he said.

Source:  Variety.com

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