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Niv Novak's 'Missed Nuance' is a breathtaking study of movement and fabric, and the role fashion plays in elevating the artistry of dance.

Let’s go to the ballet with Niv Novak’s ‘Missed Nuance’

Niv Novak is headed to the ballet with an art film named Missed Nuance being released on October 16th, 2019. Dancers from prestigious ballet companies have come together to create a work of art that showcases athleticism and beauty in the art of dance.

Dancers featured in this art film come from The Australian Ballet, Bolshoi Theatre, The Royal Ballet, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, and Queensland Ballet. Using ultra-slow-motion photography, Novak captures the mesmerizing dance movement. 

Pictured dancer: Zoe Cavedon | Projection Dance

According to the artistic director of The Australian Ballet, “What a thrill it is to see these amazing dancers captured is such exquisite detail and at a speed that we can see the sheer grit and power that goes into making dance that inspires with its beauty. It is a glimpse at the sublime captured by one who is also an artist and a great supporter of our art.”

Missed Nuance is a breathtaking study of the relationship between movement and fabric, and the role fashion plays in elevating and inspiring the artistry of dance. Watch it now in 4k on iTunes!

If you want to follow Niv Novak’s work, be sure to check out his Instagram @nivnovak, YouTube, and this website. We were able to interview Novak and pick his brain about the stunning art film he is releasing. 

Pictured dancer: Yuumi Yamada | The Australian Ballet

Tell us about your history as a filmmaker. How did you start your journey?

I’m a passionate studio photographer. I prefer shooting people to places and love learning to shape light. 

Who are your current influences?

I am influenced by Horst and Avedon.

What five TV shows do you think everyone should watch this year?

I’ve not had time for TV in 2 years – I love movies. I recently liked Never Look Away.

Cat or dog?


What was the one movie you saw that made you want to go into film?

Cinema Paradiso

Tell us about your career before you found film.

I built the business for Sonos Inc in Australia and New Zealand. Sonos acquired my company five years ago.

Pictured dancer: Callum Linnane | The Australian Ballet

What motivated you to create this film?

As a passionate photographer of dance I realised that so much of the beauty is missed – lost to speed. I wanted to capture it all, lit as beautifully as a photograph.

Subtle gradations in movement, light skimming across a dancer’s physique, muscles activating, ligaments stretching, fabrics flickering, bending and floating – countless moments of expression are missed. While photography reveals instants of such beauty, Missed Nuance captures all.

My big hope is for the work to be a meaningful contribution to dance. My grand wish is to create a reference record of an elite dancers motion like no other – one that will be referenced in 20 years. Only time will tell.

The precision, athleticism, beauty and the striving for higher ideals through ballet & dance is my motivation.

What music inspires you to create?

For this project I was inspired by Ludovico Einaudi. Music was critical to the movie and I worked with a remarkable Australian cellist and composer to create and original score. Troy Rogan conceived a sound world reflecting the grace and beauty of the stunning visuals. I could not be more thrilled with the result.

Talk to us about the fashion in your work.

I worked closely with leading Australian fashion designers and couturiers including Akira Isogawa, Jason Grech, Con Ilio, Belinda Pieris, Robyn Black, Gwendolynne and Georgia Chapman.

If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Groundhog Day. Does everyone say that?

Pictured dancer: Jake Mangakahia | The Australian Ballet

What is the technical setup (equipment, cameras/lighting)? What particular problems were encountered, and how they were resolved?

It’s a very technical setup, with 700kg of equipment. The lighting was really tough to achieve. I was set on lighting dancers as beautifully as a photographer lights a portraiture subject. It took me 18 full-time months to figure it out for high-speed photography. 

There are significant technical challenges for high-speed studio photography at 1000 frames per second. One needs 5x the light intensity when compared to shooting film/video at 24fps. Bright lights are traditionally very hot. New LED lights are run cooler but are not bright enough. Most continuous studio lights will show flicker when shooting at 1000fps. 

The lights are huge, heavy, hot and hard to modify. Everything about high-speed photography is challenging, but lighting is the biggest challenge for sure.

The data requirements are also significant. The camera records 11GB per second and so we would record 4-6TB on most days. 

Was it easy to convince dancers to take part?

In November 2018 I finally achieved studio technique and results that I was satisfied with. Once I shared these results with select dancers, all were very keen. My studio is in Melbourne and the equipment weighs 700kg so I cannot travel easily. I realised that if I wanted to make an incredible international ballet film I would need to work with the best talent visiting Australia. 

I worked for 8 months to arrange shoots with dancers from The Royal Ballet, Bolshoi Theatre, and Les Ballets de MonteCarlo. I flew to Moscow and London to arrange some of the shoots at the start of the year. The Australian Ballet and Queensland Ballet where very supportive of my work and assisted me greatly. 

Have you already got an idea for your next project?

I want to gauge the reaction to this work for now. It would be wonderful to set up for production in a European studio for two months and work with top local talent. 

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