AERIGON enabling groundbreaking skateboarding scenes
NEW overhead angles with Flying RED cameras
We Are Blood (2015)
By Brain Farm
We Are Blood had the ambition to feature a wide variety of dynamic action shots, captured at different angles and perspectives that bring the audience into the skateboarding experience. To achieve this, Brain Farm and the director Ty Evans mounted their RED cinema cameras in an AERIGON drone, and with its precise maneuverability, the camera was able to follow the skateboarding action and capture ground breaking footage. “For the type of filmmaking I want to do, it’s important for me to get heavy camera equipment in the air and know it’s safe,” said Evans. “From the time I first tried the AERIGON three years ago, I was sold on it. Unlike many RC helicopters, the AERIGON is easy to set up. We’d have it up and flying in minutes. Not only that, but I’m always confident that it’s going to function. Until the AERIGON came along, that kind of reliability was unheard of among UAVs, especially with heavy cameras.”
Evans filmed at 5K and 6K, mastering in 4K for the UltraHD movie and from the AERIGON he shot with both RED Epic and RED Dragon cameras together with a Canon Cinema Prime lens. Besides from the AERIGON drone, Evans filmed from his feet, from a moving skateboard, and from helicopters.
On the first day of production, the filmmakers used the AERIGON to follow a skateboarder in a concrete drainage ditch, climbing its sides and doing board slides. The AERIGON followed him, wrapping around to see his movement from different vantage points and the pilot that day was Intuitive Aerial’s Oscar Ohlson, while Evans operated the AERIGON gimbal. “It turned out to be the most challenging shot we did and one of the most rewarding shots of the film,” Evans said. “At the premiere people were cheering. It was gratifying.”
For most of the remaining drone footage, Robert Mcintosh was the pilot and he worked closely with Evans whenever their AERIGON was in the air. They discussed each shot beforehand and, since they would be flying close to the skateboarders, completed a safety briefing each time. After running through the the plan, they did a practice flight, and then a test run with the skaters. For shots that included multiple skateboarders, Mcintosh would start the flight, repeating the flight pattern while Evans filmed, until the skateboarders landed the trick.
“This is a more intense, focused version of flying,” Mcintosh said. “You never know when you’re going to get your shot and the skaters have to repeat their trick over and over till they get it right. This meant we had the AERIGON up for hours each day. Fortunately, it’s capable of a really long flight time and the skateboarders were patient.” In between attempts, if necessary, Mcintosh simply landed the UAV to quickly replace the flight batteries. Mcintosh has been RC piloting for eight years and has pieced together aircrafts to fly cameras for his own film projects. “With AERIGON, there’s no need for a homemade UAV,” he said. “The AERIGON is a real heavy lifter. It flies like a truck, with power to spare. And because of its safety and reliability, this is a camera platform I could even see being useful on the closed set of a major motion picture. It just gives you so many more shot options.”
Ty Evans, the director, is self-taught and began making skateboard films over 20 years ago. He started out with 16mm and 35mm motion picture cameras before switching to digital cinema. He has directed commercial work where he learned to handle bigger camera systems and larger production shoots. “I took what I learned on those large commercial productions and brought it back to what I’m passionate about, which is skateboarding,” Evans explained. “Having a tool like the AERIGON really adds to the type of visual storytelling I’m interested in.”