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Innovative Imaging Makes Sparks Ignite on ‘Rocket Wars’

For “Rocket Wars,” a short documentary from creative collective Variable (@WeAreVariable), director Salomon Ligthelm and cinematographer Khalid Mohtaseb traveled to a remote Greek island where, for over a century, parishioners have engaged in a mock battle on Holy Saturday, firing more than 100,000 homemade rockets at each other’s churches. Ligthelm explains that he was “looking to share the culture and tradition of ‘Rocket Wars’ and to celebrate the art and beauty of the event.”

The Variable team used a Vision Research Phantom Flex 4K for high-speed coverage, and also recorded material with two RED Dragon cameras: one mounted on a DJI Ronin rig and the other fitted with various anamorphic lenses. “A Sony a7S was earmarked for our [remote-controlled aerial] unit, provided by Snaproll Media,” Mohtaseb adds.

“The results are incredibly cinematic sequences that were produced in a very difficult environment and under truly chaotic conditions,” says producer Alex Friedman,

Nice Shoes colorist Sal Malfitano worked with the Variable filmmakers to craft the look for the short film, which debuted on Variable’s Vimeo channel earlier this summer.

ROCKET WARS from Variable on Vimeo.