Friday, October 23, 2009

PassmoreLab’s New 3D Film Delves Deep Inside the EXTREME NATURE OF BATS

Jim here. When Greg Passmore, president of San Diego-based 3D Production Studio PassmoreLab recently uttered the words ‘to the bat cave’, he wasn’t referring to atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed, Robin, The Dark Knight or Dracula. But all signs point to his bat cave being every bit as entertaining, creepy and biting.

Passmore was referring to a Texas bat cave where he was filming part of his latest science movie, “The Extreme Nature of Bats”, that has a resident population of 12 million of the little flying fanged mammals. These bats are as important to the surrounding ecosystem – and every single ecosystem in the world for that matter -- as the clean air and water that support them. But as beneficial as they are to nature controlling pests, pollinating plants and dispersing seeds, they can often be as deadly. Known carriers of the rabies virus -- which can be fatal to humans and animals -- bats’ dark reputation as nightstalkers is as much fact as it is fiction, and Passmore’s production is traveling the world filming bats in order to tell a balanced truth about them.

Now in production, “The Extreme Nature of Bats” is a new, 35 minute educational science film that will explore the myths and dark legends that have stalked the world's only flying mammal for hundreds of years. Through the wonders of digital 3D technology, audiences will learn that bats are unique and interesting animals; but, because of fear and misconceptions associated with them throughout history, they also are some of the most misunderstood animals in the world.

The film is being shot in various locations around the world and will examine several species of bats, including free-tailed bats, fruit bats, and vampire bats. Texas was chosen as one location because the territory contains some of the largest bat caves in the world, including maternity caves that are winter homes for millions of Mexican free-tailed bats. Other locations are quite exotic, including Africa, chosen for the fruit bat population; Belize, chosen to illustrate ancient Mayan ceremonial practices and primitive bat cave etchings; Romania, to further illuminate the myths surrounding Bran Castle (Dracula’s Castle); and the jungles of Mexico, to film the infamous vampire bats.

Only three of the world’s approximate 1,000 bat species are vampire bats that drink the blood of other animals -- and occasionally humans. These rare species are only found in isolated parts of Central and South America. Once a vampire bat locates a host, such as a sleeping mammal, it lands and stealthily approaches it from the ground.

“Vampire bats are highly-evolved hunters. They have specialized thermoreceptors which help them locate areas where its preyʼs blood flows close to the skin. Their front teeth are specialized for cutting and removing skin and their saliva contains an anticoagulant which, when injected, prevents the prey's blood from clotting,” says Greg Passmore. “Often they will return night after night to the same animal, so they simply just have to pull back the scab from previous visits to feed on more blood.”
Passmore’s objective from the start was to take viewers on a highly-memorable, realistic journey and expose them to a world they have never seen before – from deep inside active bat caves filmed from the inside out – giving viewers a realistic understanding of the risks and rewards associated with large bat populations.

“This film is not a tame depiction of bats as cute little cave kittens,” says Passmore. “It’s real -- the good, the bad and the ugly. Millions of bats live in those caves, departing and returning, devouring tons of insects nightly. But they also die there.”

One sequence shows the bats as they die and fall from the roof of the cave into the muck of bat guano below, being quickly consumed by waiting Dermestid beetles and worms.

“That’s not your typical average bat movie fare, and I can attest to the fact that the circle of life inside a bat cave is actually quite bizarre and a little disturbing,” smiles Passmore.

The film will also explore the similarity between humans and bats. Interestingly, bats have the same basic arm and hand bones found in humans and most other mammals. However, the forelimbs of all bats developed as wings, making them the only mammals naturally capable of sustained flight.

More than half of America’s bat species are considered in decline or are already listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. Wildlife experts agree that ignorance about bats and their habitats has contributed to their demise. It was Passmore’s passion for conservation and edgy story-telling that led to this film.

“I think this is an important film. The world needs to better understand these creatures before they are gone,” continues Passmore. “We are seeing new diseases like White Nose Syndrome that are killing off entire bat colonies, and that is tragic. Our film will hopefully do much for educating people about the importance of these creatures and why we need to protect them.”

There are close to 1,000 species of bats worldwide and they comprise more than one-fifth of all mammals. The film takes a straight-ahead approach to telling the story of the plight and flight of the worlds’ bat population. “The visuals speak for themselves, and I will admit that the storyline can get a little startling at times,” says Steve Glum, PassmoreLab’s head of Branding & Distribution. “But sometimes a little shock makes people stop and think, and I believe this film’s relevance fits well with the ever-growing worldwide concern for the planet’s well being.”

PassmoreLab’s “The Extreme Nature of Bats” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQ23ZMBcVMg) is scheduled for release to IMAX, Science Centers and Museums in March 2010.

About PassmoreLab
PassmoreLab, the “World’s Largest 3D Content Provider”, is a San Diego-based multi-media production studio that specializes in 3D production. The studio custom-designs and builds its own RED camera 3D rigs for both conventional and rugged film productions, shooting everything from feature films, television and science documentaries, to underwater diving, extreme sports and cave exploration http://www.passmorelab.com/PL2minTRAILER.mov. State-of-the-art facilities include a full 3D production studio, video/film post-production, optical development lab, and a software development environment. Production includes 2D, 3D, high dynamic range time lapse, stereoscopic microscopy and cutting-edge simulation technologies for real time SFX. PassmoreLab has additional offices in Russia and the Philippines. For more information, visit www.passmorelab.com.

I am a firm believer in the use of stereoscopic 3D in education. The more synapses we have firing the better and 3D makes it happen! This is one to check out for sure...

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