Jump to content
APOD

The Zone in 4K - film documentation of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Recommended Posts

182.jpg

This latest report from the zone will be completely dedicated to the film project "The Zone in 4K", the goal of which is to collect film documentation of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone at a new standard of TV and film resolution. This standard, which is just now becoming popular, has twice the resolution of Full HD and four times more pixels. Thanks to this, the recorded image is extremely sharp and has significantly more details.

I've already talked about my idea in the report from the last journey during which I decided to come back and record everything in 4K because I was disturbed by the devastation of the zone and how quickly it was being destroyed. Why 4K? After all, very few people have this kind of television or monitor, not to mention a player or computer that would be able to process such a huge amount of information.

The answer is simple – by the time 4K technology becomes widely available, by the time it's become the norm, the majority of the places described in my reports will have disappeared. That's why they have to be filmed now, before it's too late. To be captured in the highest image quality possible. I can't put it off any longer.

In the future, the collected film material can be used for various documentary films relating to the Chernobyl disaster.

I have been visiting the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone continuously for over 7 years. Fifteen, maybe twenty times? I stopped counting ages ago. This whole time I have been constantly collecting photo and film documentation of the places I visited. A short tally – several thousand pictures, hundreds of hours of video and two documentary films. Alongside the documentation of the zone that I've collected in 4K, it will be the largest collection of film and photographic materials of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

So this time I'm going back to the zone armed with 2 professional cameras recording in 4K. The main camera is a Sony FS700 which records in 4K RAW format. Recording in the loss-free RAW format means significantly greater possibility for processing video material later on. Thanks to the variable lens, it’s also possible to establish the wide-angle POV necessary for shooting in small rooms. We can also get more valuable shots using this camera, e.g. from the inside of block 4. The second camera is a Sony Z100 which, given its more compact size, is useful for shots that require more dexterity and mobility. It's much easier to get to the top of DUGA with this kind of camera. Additional cameras are a Panasonic Lumix GH4 and GoPro, which were useful for filming aerial shots from the drone thanks to their small size and light weight.

3-4 days used to be enough to see all the most interesting places. Now, especially after the last few trips as described in the two reports from the cycle "Off the beaten track", I need at least a week. Poliske town, visiting re-settlers, distant but much better preserved villages. Every visit brings something new, which is why I'm going for 8 days this time, and I also hope to find something new.

I don't manage to get to all the places, including the waste storage yard in Buriakivka. This almost 100 ha terrain consists of 30 huge ditches (150x50 metres each) where radioactive waste from all over the zone was buried. This terrain also includes a storage yard of vehicles which were used to liquidate the effects of the accident. I have managed to visit Buriakivka many times before. The result of these visits was a short film and interview with the manager of the storage yard which were attached to the second part of Alone in the Zone. However, for over a year permission has no longer been issued. Many years of visiting the zone has taught me one thing: if you can't go somewhere, that can only mean that metal is being cut up for scrap there. That's how it was with the storage yard in Rosocha (which no longer exists), Chernobyl-2 (part of the antenna was cut from the masts), recently Yanov station was closed for some time (some of the wagons were cut up). Now it's the turn of the waste storage yard in Buriakivka. Initially I believed that only the abandoned vehicles there were being cut up, but I probably underestimated the Ukrainian entrepreneurial spirit. Whole ditches at the storage yard, where radioactive waste was once buried, are opened to get the most valuable metal elements out of them.

Visits to other places such as the nuclear plant, particularly block 4 and the construction site of the new arch, were once again put off until the next visit. And especially until the situation in Ukraine has stabilised – this has led to increase in the security regime at the power plant and suspending our visit until the situation has improved.

DRONE

Documentation of the zone wouldn't be complete without aerial photos. Looking at large structures such as the cooling towers, DUGA radar antenna and unfinished block 5 from a different, rarely seen, perspective will definitely add to the attractiveness of many a film.

I invited my friend Phil to work with me on the aerial shots, he's the same person who was responsible for aerial shots for the second part of Alone in the Zone. This time Phil brought a smaller drone that also had a much better image stabilisation system. Thanks to this, it won't be necessary to apply additional stabilising programmes to the images, which significantly degrade the image quality.

This time it was much harder to take the planned shots than before. Flying without GPS, inside buildings, cooling tower, i.e. blindly (beyond the range of vision and signal transmitting the image) demanded much greater skills.

We made the first series of flights above the DUGA antenna. This is one of the places that should be filmed from the air. The dense forest growing around the antenna effectively limits wide shots of the antenna from the ground. Only flying over the trees, from a short distance, allows us to get the whole antenna and fully appreciate its powerful scale.

422.jpg

192.jpg

95.jpg

The next flights we did were over Pripyat. One of the most important shots I wanted to get was a flight along Lenin street, the main street of the town, in the direction of the main square of Pripyat. The drone was to fly precisely between the two rows of high trees leading to the centre and then fly over the central square and the “Energetik†house of culture. I intend to use this shot for the opening sequence of a film dedicated to Pripyat.

Then we made several flights over the amusement park and, finally, we repeated the flight over the 16 storey block to film the emblem on its roof.

214.jpg

201.jpg

401.jpg

412.jpg

We made the next series of flights on the area of the cooling towers structure. Previously we weren't able to make the flight inside the cooling tower because the GPS signal didn't reach inside it. This time we managed without it.

352.jpg

511.jpg

We decided to set off from the same point in the direction of block 5. This is very far from the cooling tower, so because of the great distance it was the kind of flight whose final phase happened blindly, i.e. beyond the range of vision and signal transmitting the image.

491.jpg

The increasingly risky shots were sure to eventually end in catastrophe. Taking shots at the Yanov train station, I planned a flight along the tracks towards the nuclear power plant. The drone was supposed to take off from one of the wagons, rise above the overhead contact line and then fly along the tracks to the bridge leading to Pripyat, fly across it and then turn slightly to the right and fly for a short while towards block 4.

50.jpg

Everything went off without a hitch until the expected loss of video signal showing the controller the location of the drone and what it was filming. For unknown reasons, almost simultaneously with the loss of video signal, we also lost connection with the drone itself. The situation isn't that serious yet – the system steering the drone is programmed so that the drone can safely return and land when connection is lost. In this kind of situation, FAIL SAFE mode automatically activates and the drone, using GPS and the remembered route of the flight, is able to return to the place of take-off and land automatically. Unfortunately, the controller didn't foresee that the GPS signal has a certain level of imprecision (several metres). This was enough for the drone to hit the contact line and it fell to the ground from a height of about 10 metres.

432.jpg

It seemed like we wouldn't get anything from the drone after a fall like that. Luckily, apart from damage to the propellers and wire connections, nothing too serious happened. Unfortunately, despite having spare propellers, it turned out to be impossible to replace the wires on site. So we'll take the rest of the shots on the next visit.

THE HOSPITAL

The basement of the hospital is one of the most radioactive places in Pripyat, at least it was before tourists started visiting it and taking the radioactive firefighters’ uniforms out. Two firefighters' helmets have also disappeared and it's not impossible that they're now decorating the home of some collector of radioactive souvenirs. As a result of these actions, the radioactivity in the room which used to have the most clothing in it has fallen from over 2 mSv/h to less than 1 mSv/h. A significant part of that contamination was taken out on the clothing of tourists who were unaware of the threat. And in their bodies, if they weren't wearing protective masks. I'm not exaggerating, I've heard stories about people who have bragged about their bravery (and stupidity), putting a radioactive helmet on their head or trying on clothing and taking it out of the rooms.

262.jpg

282.jpg

Even when you’re being really careful it's very easy to become contaminated. The last time it also happened to me, when filming the abandoned clothes I accidentally touched the floor or an item of clothing with my knee. I only found out about it when undergoing the compulsory dosimeter examination when leaving the zone. But if you’re aware of the risk and know how to act, it's very easy to deal with the problem.

JUPITER

The basement of the Jupiter factory is another place where you should be particularly careful. You can still find various unknown and radioactive substances in the laboratories there. I'm particularly interested in 4 metal boxes with radioactive contents whose purpose I still haven't managed to figure out, despite dosimeter tests.

The high level of ground water and spring rains mean that the basement has been flooded for a year and a half. In a certain sense, this is a benefit, as the water effectively blocks radiation. The dosimeter doesn't show any heightened radiation when held over the surface of the water. However, on the other hand, we don't know how radioactive the places and things we're walking through are now. Especially because there are metallic, multicoloured stains on the surface of the water everywhere, which show that the unknown chemical substances the basement is full of have seeped into the water.

One thing is sure – half a metre of water is effective at putting off curious tourists.

362.jpg

SUNRISE

Judging by the number of comments and e-mails I've received, the undisputed hit of the last journey to the zone were the pictures of Pripyat at sunrise. Particularly pictures taken from the roof in the centre of Pripyat with the emblem of Ukraine and the power plant in the background, which a certain fan of the zone wanted in 2 metre format as the main feature of his living room. This type of picture is quite hard to take because it's necessary to get additional permission to stay in zone I at night and the ban on going onto the roofs of buildings is more often and more meticulously followed. But the uniqueness and fleeting nature of this place and the moment led me back again. This time with a camera.

172.jpg

163.jpg

Where in the zone can you still watch the sunrise? From the top of DUGA of course! You just have to remember to get up early enough to climb to the top before the sun rises.

382.jpg

292.jpg

322.jpg

332.jpg

I also wanted to film and photograph the power plant with the background of the sunrise up close. To establish the best place to take such pictures, I used the website suncalc.net which lets you determine the position of the sun at a specific time and place. Unfortunately, the sun's position at this time of the year made it impossible to get these pictures at sunrise, but it turned out to be possible at sunset. From the roof of the unfinished block 5.

310.jpg

213.jpg

DISCOVERIES

Probably every visitor to the Chernobyl zone has dreamt about someday discovering an untouched house or flat. One that by some miracle avoided the attention of thieves and curious tourists. Shut by the inhabitants leaving it, full of scattered items from a bygone era. This is my dream, too, and it finally came true. That was the greatest discovery of this trip.

Every time I visit the zone, I try to dedicate 1-2 days to visiting completely new places. I often get several dozen kilometres into the depths of the zone. Most often without much success as the majority of houses are collapsed, ruined or empty. Sometimes I find some pictures, furniture or a newspaper or calendar that reveals when the house was abandoned. That's why I try to find public buildings like schools, kindergartens, clubs, where you can find interesting things more often. Books, notebooks, albums, postcards, photos, musical instruments – objects that have been preserved to this day because they're not valuable to thieves. During the last visit I was lucky enough to find two well-preserved schools. Often information on the internet about what villages can be visited usually helps me in these discoveries. Sometimes information about the size of the village itself, the number of former inhabitants or distance from other places can very likely determine whether you can find a school or other interesting building there. Sometimes former inhabitants of these villages help me to precisely locate them. Satellite maps of the zone are also really useful.

When preparing for this journey I also did the appropriate research, and then designated several promising places. One turned out to be a hit – a small village several dozen kilometres from Chernobyl. My attention was drawn to the wooden houses at the very edge of it. Several houses were closed with padlocks or metal bars. I went around one of the houses looking for another entrance or broken window that someone else had gone through already. I didn't find anything of the sort. I couldn't believe that there was an untouched house. The village is completely abandoned, so it's not possible that a re-settler was still living here. But I don't have the heart to force the door open and find out.

Luckily the doors to several other houses weren't closed with any key or padlock. Sometimes the door is just protected by a latch or piece of needle stuck around the lock.

I take a look in these houses.

66.jpg

57.jpg

47.jpg

For someone used to empty, pillaged and ruined places, interiors full of various objects make an amazing impression. Scattered pillows, blankets, tapestries, photos, plates and other everyday items. The inhabitants must have left their homes in a hurry, but this rush definitely wasn't connected with the evacuation of inhabitants because of the disaster. Judging by the dates on the newspapers and calendars, these are the houses of former re-settlers: forcibly removed inhabitants who, against the decision of the authorities, returned to their homes and lived there for several years or sometimes over a decade after the disaster.

In this time some of them were looked after by their children or grandchildren who lived outside the closed zone. They brought them stocks of food and medicine, chopped trees for fuel and sometimes they finally took the family member who was ailing and unable to live independently to live with them. The ones who weren't so lucky were dependant on dwindling state aid or disinterested help of zone workers.

The personal mementos found in abandoned homes, especially photos and personal notes, show that their inhabitants probably died lonely. Without family or friends who would surely have taken all family mementos after their death. But left in place, they give us, the people returning here now, an image of what these houses that were abandoned almost 30 years ago, whose interiors are now completely looted and destroyed, once looked like.

I definitely have to come back here again.

Another emotional moment was finding several wooden boxes in one of the basements in Pripyat. The rusty metal rings wrapped around the boxes indicated that they had never been opened. Of course this piqued my interest. But the contents were easy to predict. Masks. Dozens of children's gas masks, evenly laid out. Never used, waiting for to be discovered for over 30 years. And under them were evenly laid out filters and the linen shoulder bags they were carried in. Beside it were plastic phials with a post to prevent the glass fogging up. A full set in the event of nuclear conflict.

134.jpg

143.jpg

Full report is here: http://www.podniesinski.pl/portal/the-zone-in-4k/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Similar Content

    • By TheBaronof Scotland
      Next set from this amazing place












      Cheers
      The Baron
    • By TheBaronof Scotland
      Day 1 of a very memorable trip, wanted to do this for so long and as such the opportunity arose a few weeks back to make it happen.
      With it being very short notice, I went on my own and joined a public tour for 2 days, with 5 other folk, only 1 other person taking pictures !! time was limited in each location as we tried to cram in as many different locations as possible.
      As such I only had approx 45 mins in here............. first of a few reports to follow of each place i thought worthy of a report



















      Cheers
      The Baron
    • By franconiangirl
      April 26, 1986. One single day, that changed the day of numerous people overnight. One day, that entered the annals of world´s history. It was the day, when reactor no. 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was destroyed after a power failure simulation gone wrong. On that day in April 1986 the nightsky exploded. The Chernobyl disaster released as much radioactive material into the environment as 400 atomic bombs would have done. 

      I think, a lot has already been written about that topic and the Chernobyl catastrophe. A topic that I´ve always been fascinated of for many different reasons. Years ago, I told myself, I would never ever visit the zone. Last year, I´ve changed my mind and visited Chernobyl in September. I´m glad, I did. 

      Around the nuclear power plant:

      [/url]


       




      Kindergarten of the former village "Kopachi"

      Kopachi was a former village near Chernobyl, today located within the Chernobyl exclusion zone. After the nuclear catastrophe in 1986, it was hit hard by nuclear fallout and had to be evacuated. All former houses were demolished and buried. Today, every mound of earth with a warning sign in it, marks the remains of one of the former houses. Only the kindergarten has survived time and does still exist. 







      Pripyat

      "[...] we lived in Pripyat, near the reactor. I can still see the bright- crimson glow, it was like the reactor was glowing. This 
      wasn´t an ordinary fire, it was some kind of emanation. It was pretty. [....] We didn´t know, that death could be so beautiful." 

      (Nadezhda Vygovskaya (evacuee from Pripyat), excerpt from the book: Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich)



      Middle School No. 3:







      Palace of Culture "Energetik":





      Amusement park:







      Hospital No. 126
       
      The hospital no. 126 consisted of 410 beds and was - among three further clinics - the biggest medical center of Pripyat. Until today the basement of the hospital is not only one of the most contaminated places of the Chernobyl exclusion zone, but of the world. Still, the pitch-dark cellar, holds the suits of the six firemen that were the first to work on the wrecked reactor and afterwards were instantly brought to the city hospital. Of course they received a lethal dosis of radiation. Consequently, they died shortly after their operation of radiation sickness. Still, 30 years after the catastrophe, they are so highly cotaminated that you would receive a lethal dosis in only short time. 
       








      Café Pripyat near the same-named river:



      Post Office and Supermarket:
       




      Above the roofs of Pripyat:

      There´s no better way to get a glimpse of the former size of the city than standing on a 16-storey-building, where the following captures were taken. For me, standing up there, was by far one of the most impressive experiences of my whole life. Only short time after the hard climb up the stairs, one thing really hit me in an instant: an indescribable silence I´ve never witnessed before. No cars, no air planes, no humans. Even birds are hardly singing. It´s probably hard to imagine for lots of people, at least for those living in densely populated areas. Even during a walk in the woods, one normally can hear the typical background noise of civilization. Suddenly, that noise was gone. My first thought was: dead silence. That impression is still affecting me deeply. The fact to look down on former traces of human lives only add to the unreal atmosphere. A whole city is at my feet and all I can hear is simply - nothing. I take a last look at the wrecked reactor no. 4 in the distance that soon will be disappeared underneath the new so-called New Safe Confinement (NSC). Despite the peaceful atmosphere, I still have the uneasy feeling of being a belated witness of a catastrophe which is hard to comprehend. 




       


      DUGA - "The Russian Woodpecker"

      The DUGA-array was part of an over-the-horizon radar system (OTH) and was located near the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant. It´s highest antenna was around 150 metres high and does still exist. The range of the array was around 9,000 kilometers. During the cold war era, the radar station was of course like similar stations top secret. 

      Already at the end of the 1970's an interfering signal was received by short-wave radio stations. It sounded like a woodpecker that´s why it was later called "the Russian Woodpecker". It was early suspected, that those sounds might belong to a Soviet over-the-horizon radar. When reactor 4 of Chernobyl blew up, the OTH system could not be kept secret any longer. Thus, the theory was confirmed

      There are also many conspiracy theories concerning the radar station. According to those theories, mind control and the possibility of influencing the weather were made possible by DUGA. 




    • By The Wombat
      Chernobyl…
       
      Where do I start!
       
       Had an awesome action packed beer drenched week-long trip in the zone. I took 1400 photos, and saw some amazing sites in Pripyat.
       
      I’m going to start with Chernobyl Nuclear power plant, as it is a once in a lifetime site. It is my first nuclear power plant (!) and although originally sceptical about radiation levels, the dose I received in my 3 hour visit should be acceptable. Our tour guide had worked at the plant for 26 years!
       
      There was, understandably, a vast amount of security and ID checks to enter the plant. Although the station is long decommissioned, there is still plenty of activity around here, and will be for the foreseeable future. We had a comprehensive briefing on the disaster before entry, then some security and were led to the new sarcophagus construction yard. Some more security & lengthy ID checks, dressed up in all lab coats, foot covers & hat, more security, then inside the nuclear power plant. An exceptionally long corridor linked the 4 reactors. Control rooms for each nuclear reactor on the left, and turbine halls on the right. Nuclear Reactor 2 control room was a real highlight. I have never seen so many buttons & dials. Radiation was surprisingly low here. Then on to the wall beside the reactor 4, which had the accident. The giger counter went bonkers. Moving swiftly on to Nuclear reactor 3 turbine hall, which was very impressive. Finally more security, and radiation checks, and the monument outside. An outstanding visit.
       
      I’ve got loads of photos of Pripyat, and the partially built reactor cooling tower for reactor 5, which was never finishsed. All to follow.
      Explored with the excellent company of Stig, Auntieknickers, The Lone Ranger & two non members.
       
      History
      The history is well documented on the net. In summary:
      The Chernobyl disaster happened on 26 April 1986, in Ukraine, former USSR.
      An explosion & fire released large quanties of radioactive particles into the atmosphere over current day Ukraine & Belarus. It was the worst nuclear disaster in history. It is one of only two level 7 events (the other being Fukushima in 2011. To contain the contamination cost a lot money and a lot of lives. The other 3 nuclear reactors were restarted the same year, and were not decommissioned for some years later.
       
      monument to the disaster

       
      the new sarcophagus to cover reactor 4

       

       
      the new sarcophagus to cover reactor 4

       

       
      Let's go inside.....

       
      The very long corridor - linking all 4 nuclear reactors

       

       
      Nuclear power plant, Reactor 2 control room
       

       

       

       

       
      so many buttons

       

       
      Monument next to reactor 4, that exploded
       

       
      Turbine Hall, Nuclear Reactor 3

       

       

       

       

       

       
      this is a model of reactor 4, which exploded

       
       
      and this diagram explains (best in the pictures!) how the new sarcophagus will be moved into position

       
       
      thanks for looking
       
       
       
       
       
       
       

Disclaimer

Oblivion State exists as an online forum to allow like minded individuals to share their experiences of Urban Exploration. We do not condone breaking and entering or other criminal activity and advise all members to read the FAQ articles about the forum and urban exploring in general. All posts are the responsibility of the original poster and all images remain copyright to the original photographer.

We would just like to thank

Forum user AndyK! from Behind Closed Doors for our rather excellent new logo.

All of our fantastic team of Moderators who volunteer their time to keep this place running smoothly.

All of our members for continuing to support Oblivion State by posting up the most awesome content. Thank you everyone!
×