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HMAS Sydney film wins international 3D film-making award

Media release

A 3D video experience featuring extraordinary underwater images of two historic shipwrecks obtained by Curtin University and the Western Australian Museum has won the Best-of-Show Live Action Category at an international conference honouring 3D innovation.

HMAS Sydney (II) - inverted bow section. Image courtesy Curtin University and WA Museum. Copyright WA Museum.
HMAS Sydney (II) - inverted bow section. Image courtesy Curtin University and WA Museum. Copyright WA Museum.

From Great Depths 3D – Witnessing the Wrecks of HMAS Sydney (II) and HSK Kormoran was among 31 3D films showcased at the 28th annual Stereoscopic Displays and Applications (SD&A) conference 3D Theatre held near San Francisco recently.

Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry said the dusk encounter between HMAS Sydney (II) and the German raider Kormoran remains Australia’s single largest naval disaster and has long been considered one of the world’s most significant wartime mysteries.

“The loss of both ships on the night of 19 November 1941, with no survivors among Sydney’s full war complement of 645 crew, sparked a mystery spanning 66 years for Australia’s most famous fighting ship and for one of Germany’s best known raiders,” Professor Terry said.

From Great Depths 3D was produced by the Western Australian Museum to form part of an exhibition exploring that story, and skilfully uses innovative 3D techniques developed by Curtin University to illustrate this very significant historical event.

“It is fantastic to see an important Australian-focused story, and the local innovation behind it, receiving international recognition.”

The 12-minute video experience was directed by Fremantle consultant Robyn Johnston and uses 3D footage obtained during a joint expedition to re-survey the wreck sites off the WA coast in 2015.

WA Museum CEO Alec Coles said the piece, part of a new, permanent exhibition on display at the Museum of Geraldton to mark the 75th anniversary of the battle, was a moving testament to the 726 lives lost.

“The Sydney-Kormoran story is harrowing but this does not pretend to tell that story in its entirety,” Mr Coles said.

“Rather, it uses the extraordinary subsea footage to provide an underwater experience that is intimate, contemplative, informative, respectful and extremely powerful.”

The judges were Emeritus Professor Dan Sandin from the Electronic Visualization Lab at University of Illinois at Chicago, who worked on the original vector graphics for Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope; Eric Kurland of 3-D Space, who has worked on 3D productions for Fox and OK GO; and Chris Ward from Lightspeed Design Group and DepthQ Stereoscopic, developer of 3D cinema systems deployed worldwide.

The SD&A conference is the largest and longest-running technical conference dedicated to stereoscopic 3D imaging topics.

The annual 3D Theatre event showcases the wide range of content being produced and exhibited around the world, from major studios to researchers and talented artists.

At this year’s conference a selection of high quality 3D cinema and video content from 13 different countries was shown. The Best-of-Show Animated category was won by Singaporean entry Chrysalis, by Ina Conradi and Mark Chavez.