The Art of Flight: Cutting-Edge Camera Systems Make This Documentary Soar

Author:
Publish date:

The Art of Flight, perhaps the most dangerous and ambitious action-sports film ever captured on digital media and film, premiered in early September at several specially equipped theaters and art centers from Manhattan to Seattle. Screenings in the U.S., Canada and Europe have been scheduled through at least November.

Travis Rice, Snowboard Big Mountain/Freeride, in British Columbia. Photo by Mark Gallup/Red Bull Content Pool

Within 24 hours of its world premiere at the Beacon Theater in New York City (Sept. 7), the movie also became available for sale on iTunes, Blu-ray Disc and DVD.

The film follows the global travels of prominent American snowboarder Travis Rice—who also serves as narrator—to such exotic locales as Patagonia, Colorado, Wyoming, Alaska and British Columbia. The project is a first-of-its kind collaboration between Brain Farm Digital Cinema and Red Bull Media House—with audio implemented by Dolby Labs and George Lucas'' Skywalker Ranch (another “first” for sports-action cinema). Color-correction was handled by Spy Post in San Francisco.

The Art of Flight production crew in Jackson Hole, Wy. Photo by Danny Zapalac/Red Bull Content Pool

“Snowboard films have always had a lot of emphasis on the action, but never as much on production value and the actual filmmaking skills behind it,” says producer Chad Jackson. “This was different. This was a nearly two-year project and a hybrid between a true documentary and a so-called ‘action sports'' film. We really wanted to add in the story along with the adventure. It''s a bigger budget film compared to other snowboard films, but we''re still doing the work of 50 Hollywood filmmakers with a small, tight crew,” Jackson adds.

“September is best for distribution because ‘snowboard'' is kind of an industry unto itself, where you want to take it straight to DVD and Blu-ray because consumers buy these films in the fall before ski season. And then we go right into the holiday season,” Jackson continues. We''re doing a limited ‘four-walling'' theatrical run where we premiere in various venues—not movie theaters, necessarily, but in opera houses, art centers and such—using [digital] projectors.” Most of these brick-and-mortar venues feature a Dolby cinema server playing a 1920x1080 DCP file. Dolby is providing 7.1 and 5.1 audio mixes.

Travis Rice, Snowboard Big Mountain/Freeride, in British Columbia. Photo by Mark Gallup/Red Bull Content Pool

Brain Farm''s owner, Curt Morgan, directed the film. The greatest obstacle with such an ambitious undertaking, he says, is logistical. “In our order to capture such highly unusual locations with such unique camera systems, we had to find a way to get all the gear there to begin with!”

Each location trek would typically start at Brain Farm''s base in Wyoming. “From Jackson, we would take the equipment—sometimes as many as 75 cases—and leapfrog from place to place. We followed weather patterns, which can make our job very difficult,” Morgan explains. “This was the most logistically challenging set of shoots I ever signed up for.”

Morgan''s crew shot with a wide array of equipment: a couple of Panasonic AJ-HPX3700 VariCams, a Vision Research Phantom HD Gold and Phantom Flex, a RED Epic, and Panasonic helmet cams. They also deployed a Sony PMW-F3 CineAlta, a Canon EOS 7D DSLR and, to shoot 35mm film, an ARRIFLEX 235.

Curtis Morgan films for The Art of Flight in Jackson Hole, Wy., in January 2011. Photo by Danny Zapalac/Red Bull Content Pool

“A very busy unit was the Cineflex V14—a gyro-stabilized gimbal from Axsys Technologies that houses Sony''s HDC-1500 studio camera system,” says Morgan. “After using it quite a bit on our last film—That''s It, That''s All—I fell in in love with the Cineflex. It has the ability to stay perfectly stable at the end of a 42x lens flying in a helicopter going over 100 mph in high winds.” Brain Farm''s Cineflex system records to a Sony SRW-1 deck.

Morgan explains that the crew started shooting everything at 1,052 fps, but quickly realized that, although the high-speed slow-motion images looked cool, “overdoing it can lead to an almost boring image, so we ended up shooting most of our action at 400 fps and then ramping in post.”

Post supervisor Eric Hansen oversees an Apple Final Cut Pro facility with four main editing stations—and a few Mac Mini and laptop stations—all tied into an Ethernet-based SAN with a capacity of 56TB. “It became obvious almost two years ago that we wouldn''t be able to work on this movie at ProRes HQ and still keep everything on the SAN. Instead, we switched to ProRes proxy for the offline,” Hansen says. “Then we could use different bit rate files such as proxy, LT, standard and HQ that all have the same 1920x1080 resolution.”

Related

More than 55 of the 2018 Fall Television and Streaming Series Rely on Blackmagic Design

More than 55 of the 2018 Fall Television and Streaming Series Rely on Blackmagic Design

Blackmagic Design today announced that the company’s production and post products were used to complete many of the fall 2018 season’s new and returning television shows and streaming series. More than 55 shows rely on Blackmagic Design’s digital film cameras; Fusion visual effects (VFX), compositing, 3D and motion graphics software; and DaVinci Resolve editing, color correction, VFX and digital audio software; as well as its switchers, routers, monitors and capture and playback devices.

Luxul_AMS-1208P

Jingle All the Way: Luxul's XMS-1208P Managed Gigabit Switch is Available for All CI Integrators this Holiday Season

Luxul, the leading innovator of IP networking solutions for AV integrators, today announced that it's giving CI integrators the gift of enterprise-level performance at affordable price points this holiday season. It doesn't matter if they've been naughty or nice, the company's XMS-1208P 12-port/18 PoE+ managed Gigabit switch — that delivers high-speed performance while enabling simple network expansion — is now available for all. And to ring in the new year, Luxul will begin shipping its AMS-1816P 18-port/16 PoE+ L2/L3 managed Gigabit switch in early January.

HoverCam_VV1

HoverCam Transforms Classrooms Fit for Future-Ready Students at Val Verde USD

HoverCam, an innovative technology leader in the digital education market, announced that Val Verde Unified School District (USD) in Parris, California, successfully installed HoverCam's Pilot digital teaching stations and CenterStage interactive flat panels (IFPs) in new STEM labs in the elementary schools, with plans for an eventual rollout to the district's middle and high schools. As part of the district's goal to create future-ready students, Val Verde USD chose HoverCam digital education solutions to address the rising challenge of updating classrooms and introducing curriculum with advanced systems that will prepare students for a rapidly changing career landscape.

ScreenShot2018-12-11at2.41.29PM.144822

The Sigma Holiday Sale Is Back!

Nothing makes gift giving as enjoyable as special prices on award-winning Sigma lenses and accessories; get the lens you’ve always craved or surprise a fellow shooter with the perfect present.

Riedel-Ruptly-Vans-3

Global News Agency Ruptly Relies on Riedel's MediorNet and Artist on Board New OB and DSNG Vehicles

Riedel's MediorNet real-time media network and Artist digital matrix intercom are providing the decentralized and redundant signal routing and communications backbone on board two all-new, state-of-the-art OB vehicles for Ruptly, a Berlin-based international news agency. Qvest Media, a world-leading system architect and integrator for the broadcast and media industries, designed and built the new broadcast van and DSNG vehicle.