In the vast sea of paranormal reality television, you really have to have something unique to differentiate yourself from the pack. Sometimes it’s a minor celebrity (Jack Osbourne in Haunted Highway, everyone in Celebrity Ghost Story), sometimes it’s a vaguely offensive premise (Psychic Kids), and other times it’s just a matter of tackling something new (Finding Bigfoot). But for the cast and crew of the new ghost hunting reality series ANOMALY, the spin is something truly unique: a third dimension.
ANOMALY stars researcher Jack Kassewitz and his team of supernatural sleuths as they investigate the “most reportedly haunted locations in the world” with custom designed stereoscopic cameras in tow, providing viewers of the one hour docu-reality series with the first ever opportunity to ghost hunt in 3D. Well, at least from the safety and security of their couch.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with the producer of ANOMALY, David Cole from Beampath Stereoscopic, and pick his brain about the show, the special camera equipment required for the series, and the future of paranormal reality television.
GN: The concept of a 3D paranormal reality show is definitely a unique one. Where did the idea for ANOMALY originate? What was it that made you say, “this is perfect for 3D”?
DC: It occurred to me that the paranormal genre is perfect for the immersive, “in the moment” feel that 3D provides in the home. We want our audience to saddle up on the couch, to turn out the lights, and come with us into these environments. Like a ride.
GN: So once you had the concept nailed down, what made you choose Jack Kassewitz as host?
DC: The next thought that I had, after the idea to do paranormal in 3D, was Jack. He is intensely interested in the neurological aspects of the paranormal experience and has spent much of his career studying communication with other species (Kassewitz is well known for his work in using iPads to communicate with dolphins).
As most reported phenomena are auditory (and actually are reported to be communication with entities) Jacks’s expertise and scientific/technological approach to data collection and analysis seemed like a perfect fit. Additionally, he’s a very interesting guy and even has some background in american indian culture and spiritual practice.
GN: Did you face any unique challenges in creating a 3D paranormal series? I can’t imagine that regular cameras cut it for a project like this. Did it require a lot of custom rigs?
DC: YES, YES, YES! We have an arsenal of custom cameras, specially designed to shoot 3D in pitch black (in full spectrum). The most complex rig is a custom beamsplitter that is capable of producing IMAX quality stereoscopic 3D footage with no visible light. That rig alone required 8 months of engineering and testing. It’s still something of a science project.
The demands of an episodic TV show do not mesh well with prototype or finicky camera rigs. We’re working hard to standardize cameras, illuminators, mounts, steady-rigs and other grip materials to optimize productivity. Also, we have a bible of do’s and don’ts’ with regard to shooting stereo in the dark.
GN: With all the work that you had to put into this special equipment, were there any moments during filming where you were especially glad that you had chosen the 3D format?
DC: Just about every time we have an event that requires a cast member to move to the location (e.g. running from the control room to investigate a REM POD that’s going off), we have an ambulatory, point-of-view, following and leading that cast member into the dark and unknown. Those scenes are exhilarating! Like a scary roller coster ride.
We’ve also debunked an orb by using the stereoscopic camera views to determine that what looked like it was 15 feet from the camera was actually only inches from the lenses.
Finally, we’ve had a pretty big catch on film. In the realm of paranormal TV show visual evidence, it’s pretty big… and we caught it in 3D. We can tell where it happened in space, that it had depth, and is not just a shadow on the wall. Can’t say more about that one yet.
GN: Wow, if the evidence is what you say it is, that could be pretty historic as far as televised evidence of the paranormal is concerned. When will we have the opportunity to see the footage for ourselves?
DC: We’ll be posting an announcement soon at www.anomaly3d.tv with our premiere schedule and where the series will be shown. The 3D TV distribution marketplace is still a little disjointed, so the show will be available from a number of outlets. There will be a mix of video-on-demand services (internet and cable) as well as a regular 3D broadcaster carrying our 1st season.
GN: All things considered, what’s in store for the future of ANOMALY?
DC: We’re off to find the anomalies… wherever they may hide. We call it the world’s most “terrible” places tour. Lot’s of thrills in store!
GN: How about paranormal reality television in general? Is 3D going to be the next big thing or just a flash in the pan?
DC: We think 3D is absolutely the future for shows that strive give the viewer a more real, immersive experience. For the “recreation” or docu-drama style shows… I’m not sure it’s as critical. But, for the viewer who enjoys the ride – going into spooky environments and getting startled with the cast – 3D is IT! They’ll never go back.
Take a look at a sneak peek of show below, but make sure you grab a pair of 3D specs first.
You can find out more about ANOMALY and where you can see it yourself at www.anomaly3d.tv, and more on Jack Kessewitz and his research at Jack’s official website. A huge thanks goes out to David Cole for taking the time to answer some questions about the series for us. You can see more of his work in stereoscopic entertainment with BeamPath at their official website.