Evolve Digital Cinema Explores for National Geographic Campaign
Albert Lin is searching for the tomb of Genghis Khan. Shannon Switzer is investigating how the health of the San Diego coastline is affecting the health of its surfers. And Juan Martinez is showing inner city kids the wonder and beauty of nature.
To capture the adrenaline-charged lives of the explorers, co-DPs and directors Joel Edwards and Bill Roach spent eight days shooting all over California, including San Diego, Palm Desert, and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park.
One of the most striking images occurs when Edwards and Roach followed explorer Albert Lin to the Valley of the Moon, a rock-climbing mecca located between the San Diego and Mexico border. "The whole area down there looks like Mars," Edwards explains, later pointing out that NASA had done the Apollo trainings for the space landings down there. "If NASA considered it to be close to the moon's surface, it's the real deal."
Shooting there proved almost as difficult as shooting on the moon. The 4x4s the crew were using to reach the location got stuck several times and required drilling to get out. "It was one of the crazier areas we've ever been and we've been all over the place," says Edwards of the visually stunning locale. "It literally took two hours just to drive in a quarter mile to get in to these rock spaces."
In the sizzle spot, shots of Lin leaping over rocks smoothly parlay to shots of surfer Shannon Switzer expertly skimming the surface of the ocean. To get those, the Evolve team mounted the Canon EOS 5D Mark II in an underwater housing from Sea & Sea, the MDX-PRO 5D Mark II, which allowed for a super-wide 16-35mm lens. "To be able to get a little zoom action and be able to be wide and be underwater was pretty cool, and that was all enabled through this new housing. It was right out of the factory," says Edwards.
Most of the spots were shot with an ARRI Alexa; a Canon 5D and Sony PMW-F3 were used as B-unit cameras. A Vision Research Phantom HD Gold shot the high-speed sequences. Lenses used included Angenieux zooms, an Optimo DP 30-80 zoom, compact primes from Carl Zeiss and several Canon EF L-Series lenses for the 5D.
Cinedeck external recorders were used to keep everything in ProRes for editing in Apple Final Cut Pro. Color grading was done in Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve, with some additional filters from Red Giant Software. All of the effects were done either within the Final Cut timeline or with Adobe After Effects for the animations. The soundtrack was composed by London boutique Radium Audio.
Two of the four spots have been released on Evolve's Vimeo page, with the final two expected to be finished this month.