David and Sheila Schiferl of Los Alamos with the 360-degree camera they donated to the Pajarito Environmental Education Center. Photo by Rachel Landman
Thanks to the generosity of David and Sheila Schiferl, the Pajarito Environmental Education Center has a new 360-degree camera — an Insta360 Pro — with which to shoot local nature films for display in the Los Alamos Nature Center Planetarium.
“I’d been looking for the right setup for creating 360-degree films for some time,” said David Schiferl, who also is board president of PAC 8 Community Media Center. “And when this one came on the market it seemed like the perfect tool.”
The Schiferls donated the funds to purchase the camera and were instrumental in helping PEEC staff learn how to operate it.
The first use for the camera came with the opening of the full-dome film “National Parks Adventure.” An award-winning film such as this one, which is narrated by Robert Redford, is expensive to lease, and local sponsors made it possible for PEEC to afford the film. The Delle Foundation, CB FOX Department Store and Metzger’s Hardware all pitched in, along with a gift from the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.
PEEC used the camera to shoot the first-ever 360-degree commercials in Los Alamos featuring CB FOX and Metzgers. UNM-LA intern Helen Caparone and PAC 8 employee and high school student, Peter Watson, shot and edited the commercials, with help from PEEC’s Director of Interpretation Jonathan Creel.
“The commercials were fun to film,” Watson said. “We learned a lot about filming in 360 degrees.”
This is just the beginning of what PEEC plans to do with the 360 camera. Creel and David Schiferl plan to take the camera on PEEC geology outings to remote locations so that people who aren’t able to travel there can still see the interesting sights on the planetarium dome. PEEC has plans for lots more films of hard-to-reach places, such as petroglyph locations that are best kept secret.
PEEC was founded in 2000 to serve the community of Los Alamos. It offers people of all ages a way to enrich their lives by strengthening their connections to our canyons, mesas, mountains, and skies. PEEC operates the Los Alamos Nature Center at 2600 Canyon Road, holds regular programs and events, and hosts several interest groups from birding to hiking to butterfly watching. PEEC activities are open to everyone; however, members receive exclusive benefits such as discounts on programs and merchandise. Annual memberships start at $35. To learn more, visit www.peecnature.org.