Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Gasoline, TNT & Soldiers

Last summer we were filming pyro shots with our Red Epic to Finnish Defence Forces. It was a longer project that combat camera platoon was filming, but we were hired for two days to make the explosions look bigger & greater.

There was a big war rehearsal going on in Rovaniemi area and we used the soldiers as actors. Defence Forces had hired a well known pyrotechnician Mauri Tikkanen to set up explosions for us to film. The size of the pyro effects that we did was something new for me. It was really good that we were filming under strict discipline of Army. Placing an actor on wrong place etc. would have caused fatalities or serious injuries.

The reason I´m writing this story now is that Defence Forces just released the film that we were filming. It´s a new way of combat, how to defence the country with smaller amount of soldiers. Here´s the film:


Friday, February 15, 2013

Aerial filming in -27 celsius

10.02.13 We were filming some promo material for company called Heliflite. It´s a company providing helicopter services in Lapland. Helihikes, fishing trips, charter flights and flights for film crew. I´ve been filming many times from Heliflite helicopter and this was a nice gig to take.

It was pretty cold morning when we started from Rovaniemi. Sky was blue and about -20 celsius. When we started to reach our destination Levi, the sky seemed more foggy and cloudy. In some areas you couldn´t see the sun at all. At Levi the temperature was -27 and the whole area was covered on thin fog layer at altitude of 50 meter.

Down in the road everything looked bad and foggy, but when we drove on the top of the hill next to restaurant Tuikku, whole new world opened. Sky was blue and the ground area was covered on white silk (fog) and only the hills pushed them selves through it.

I met the pilot on a helicopter platform and we set up the camera. We started filming some takeoffs with customers. Helicopter taking off from snowy terrain just looks so good when filmed in slowmotion. Snow and snow blocks are flying as the giant helicopter is just lifted up in the air.

Picture by Dominik

Then came our turn. I was ment to sit in the same place where I normaly do. I´m sitting outside the helicopter on a ski cage. It gives me really good ability to film handheld to all possible directions. Much better than filming from inside next to door. I think that my skydiving hobby is helping me with this one. It´s normal for me to be hanging outside the plane or helicopter.

Heliflite handheld setup. This picture taken autumn 2012
Heliflite handheld setup in action autumn 2012

We went airborne. After 2 minutes I had to ask my assistant Dominik to loan his goggles. The wind that I was having to my face was so cold that I couldn´t do anything without them. I thought that I can´t film with goggles because of the tint and fog and that´s why I didn´t put them on in the first place. Luckily Dominik had them and saved me by giving his goggles on my face.

Under the fog layer: Picture by Domink

The weather was beautiful, but very difficult to film. When we went under the fog, the air was somehow very moisturized and cold. -27 but still foggy. It really felt extreme. Dominik and I had to work really hard to keep the camera filter clean from fog. I really have to thank Dominik for assisting me because without him it would have been almost impossible.

Anyhow above the fog layer everything looked really nice. As soon as we got the fog layer of the filter, we started filming some moneyshot pictures of Levi and cafeteria Tuikku. We flew quite low to film the snowy trees with the landscape and the hotel Panorama which is on the halfway of the slopes of Levi.

After we went second time under the fog layer to film Levi village, I started to feel extreme cold on my face (which was fully covered) and fingers. We flew once over the village and landed shortly after that. It was a bit diffirent aerial filming this time, but really worth it. Some of the clips are maybe best I´ve filmed so far.

Picture by Dominik

I bet that the promo for Heliflite will be posted here as it is edited.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Operation Porsche Camp Canada: On the set

The film set of Porshce Camp Canada was near Esterel, at the Megaclisse motorsport park. Porsche is having Camp4 and Camp4s there. We were there to film the commercial for those camps.

The weather was terrible when Pera (our producer) arrived Montreal. It was +10 celcius and everything was melting. After first day it turned to -20 celcius, so quite slippery to drive. Even with Porsche.

Pera Scouted the location and visited CinePool rental at Montreal to rent a dolly and tracks for us. Nice coincidence that the new music video for Nightwish was filmed in the studio next door and the staff from CinePool were also involved in the project.

CinePool staff were bit surprised that we have come all the way from Finland to film a commercial for Porsche Camp Canada, but what so ever they wished us good luck for the project and were really helpful with the cine tools.

During our filming days the weather was quite cold. From -18 to -28 celsius and the wind was blowing 4-10ms, so the fact about the wind factor was proven us every day. Sun light was another thing that was different from Finland. Sun was much higher and much harder than in Finland this time. Hard contrast in light and the fact that trees didn´t have snowcover made it bit challenging to film, but the time around the sunset was beautifully colored.. We didn´t have any sunlotion nor sunglasses with us, cause Lappish mind don´t count them in accesories in January. So we were redskins, like the original americans.

Beside the track, we were also filming the briefing and dinner in the Hotel Esterel. It was nice to notice that Porsche is using a film made by us all over the world when they brief the ice driving. So it´s good to end this blog post in that video. Now we are in Finland and we are preparing to film the new Porsche Promo 2014 in Finland



Thursday, January 31, 2013

Operation: "Porsche Camp Canada" Preparing and Packing

So it went that we were chosen to be the production company in charge of the commercial "Porsche Camp Canada". All my friends and colleagues are asking that why are you going there, isn´t there production companies in Canada. Those are the same questions that I was thinking when I heard the news.

We have been filming Porsche Camp commercials here in Finland and it seems that they are really satisfied about the results. And the fact that we can work with quite small team makes us also affordable even we have to cross the atlantic ocean to get on the set.

Pera went already to check the locations with Canon 60D and action cameras with him. Destination is near Montreal. I should fly there on Thursday and bring the Epic and all the Grip equipment needed.

My luggage didn´t eat all that I wanted to take with me on the set. Now my luggages are bit over weighted with only basics packed. We decided to rent sliders, dollies and everything else needed in Montreal.

Here´s the Porsche Commercial that we have filmed here in Finland.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Arctic Lapland Rally

Once again we were filming in Arctic Lapland Rally. Rest of our team was filming the rally in general and my mission was to follow English rally driver Tony Jardine and his Co.Pilot Des Kelly from the Daily Mail.

Extremely cold conditions as always in Arctic Rally. This year it was not as bad as last year when it was under -30 celsius. This time -26 might have been the coldest numbers that I spotted.

It was a bit of relief to be there only with still camera. Last year we were moving with Red Epic and it was so unflexible. Now I just walked in a deep snow to get good spots.

I´m pretty tired writing this cause the days were quite long in rally, but I wanted to write something before we head to Montreal, Canada to film commercial for Porsche Camp Canada. It will be a blast. We are going to film there with Red Epic, Canon 5dmk2 and GoPro hero 3 + some other action cameras.. Probably the favorite cameras in the world. I´ll post some more from there..

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Arctic Expedition & TV-Commercial

Sunset at Ruka, filmed with Red Epic build 4.0

14.01.2013 it was time to check the forecast. We are living the last days of Polar Night and our cameras were screaming to go out to film the beautiful colors of twilight. Forecast promised good weather and low level for aurora activity. Low level is level 2 at 1-5 grading scale so it´s not the worst forecast and it means there will be something going on at the sky. There was also a short TV-Commercial shoot at Kuusamo (Ruka), filming Rantasipi Rukahovi hotel commercial, so there was a reason to get on the road. Sky was clear, stars were shining and that meant a cold night.

Skyvan eating the road

There was a plan that I´ll be out in the wilderness the first night and then drive to Ruka. I wanted to be somewhere outside the light pollution and normally there´s no hotels on those areas. I asked my camera-assistant Tommi that is it alright to sleep out in the wild, -25 celcius in the caravan car. Like a guerilla Tommi was ready for the adventure. I also offered the expedition to my new friends Dominik and Jakub and they joined the expedition as well. Respect for the guys! At that point they have had been in Finland less than 10 days.

Normaly when we´re filming out in the wild we have a snowmobile and 4P lightweight sleigh. It´s really good for soft snow and difficult terrain and it fits just the right amount of equipment that you need when filming Epic or Red One. This time we didn´t have snowmobile with us so I bought a Rapala sledge that we were meant to pull up the hill. It was quite optimal size for motorized timelapse photography though it was quite heavy to pull.

First stop was Sallatunturi and the northern slopes of it. First we thought about going to Ruuhitunturi (bit more out in the wild)  but the 8km hike without a snowmobile felt bit too much in these circumstances. We pulled the sledge about half way of the hill and constructed the Shuttlepod with Red Epic to film the stars and northernlights. I have to say that it´s way easier to think about pulling the sledge up to hill than actually doing it. We were quite exhausted when we reached the sweet spot of the hill. Have to add more physical training to schedule in the future.

I have updated our Epic firmware to Beta 4.0 which allows timelapse photography (interval recording) with frame summing or frame averaging. Those methods should expand the shutter time up to 16sec by using multiple frames to construct one. I haven´t studied those methods enough to explain them better, but I have to say that I´m bit disappointed to Epic in matter of star photography. The result that I got with f1.8 lens and 8sec exposure was very dark & noisy. But like I said I have to learn it much better, but at this point Canon with Magic Lantern will do the job much better.

After some noisy Epic timelapses we continued filming with Canon and Magic Lantern quite long, if I remember right we had wrap at 5:15am. We did one timelapse where we were starring in front of the camera. We were having a bonfire with sausages and grillcheese.

After the wrap we had a short sleep in Skyvan (my caravan car) and started it to Kuusamo and Ruka around 9:30am. We looked quite tired when we arrived to Ruka, but fortunately there was no need of close ups on that TV-Commercial.

The weather was not the best for the commercial shoot. It was very foggy and the snow was really hard. It was difficult to get the snow up in the air (like the commercial storyboard said). Jakub happened to be a licensed ski teacher in Czech so he volunteered to be in front of the camera. Dominik also starred the commercial with skis though he is a snowboarder. Two hours before the sunset the fog faded away and we got the pictures needed for the commercial. The weather actually turned really nice for twilight.

After the commercial I wanted to give Epic an another change in timelapse photography. There was really nice sunset coming and I had Epic in the half way of hill Ruka. I set the Epic 5K HDRx filming one frame every 10 seconds. I overexposed the a-track 3 stops and made the x-track 6stops under. It filmed the sunset for 1 hour and the result was quite spectacular. Epic proved once again to be maybe the best camera available in the industry.

And by the way.. If there´s anything you would like to ask about the equipment, weather, locations or anything, feel free to leave a comment on the blog.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Patience to film timelapse

Last saturday I went out to film some timelapse photography. I was about to test the Canon 60D with Magic Lantern v2.3. First to test was the bulb ramping option to get smooth transition from day to night. Sun was shining and it promised a good sunset to film.

I took Canon 60D with Magic Lantern 2.3 installed and went to Ounasvaara. It´s a small hill next to Rovaniemi and there´s a view tower where you can see the city and the sunset (in winter). I was walking down the path when I met a group of young people who were finding a place to make a fire. I said that there´s a bonfireplace at the view tower where I´m going so we can join as a group. It seemed out that it was a group of exchange mediastudents from all over Europe. I said that if they want to join me later on the night for timelapse trip little bit more north they are wellcome.

View from the Ounasvaara view tower

I climbed up the tower and set the camera to film the scenery with bulb ramping. Sunset mode and +0,5EV maximum change in exposure. Bulb ramping is a method how to film timelapse shots where you have so big dynamic change in the light that camera sensor can´t handle with static exposure values. For examle if you are filming sunset and starting when the sun is still shining your images will be darker every second the sun is setting down. In one point the sensor can´t handle it anymore and the images are only black. In bulb ramping you take couple shots from that scene and tell the camera that I want the exposure to be like this. The camera analyses the scene and when the timelapse it´s on it will change the shutterspeed to maintain the correct exposure for the ambient light. It can go for example from 1/200 sec to 20 seconds. This method works much better than auto exposure, which will result a flickering timelapse video. In Magin Lantern there is a setup for sunset and sunrise modes. In those modes the exposure can go only up or down and the shift between night and day should be smooth. Anyway there´s alwayes some littele fixing that you have to do in postproduction.

Here´s the result that I got from the view tower. This is still pretty raw with no processing so there´s little bit flickering and the colors are not as good as I´ll get them later on. Unluckily I ran out of card and I didn´t get the stars so well. I should have had been filming there at least for one more our.

Later on I called the students and asked if they still want to go for an adventure. Three brave ones, Dominik, Jakub and Tommaso had the guts to step into my caravan car "Skyvan" and travel into the wilderness 40km north from Rovaniemi. The mission was to find some auroras or shootingstars.

It was -20 celsius and pretty foggy everywhere. You couldn´t see the sky in Rovaniemi. First we drove to Olkkajärvi where you have good parking place near a lake with good view to sky. It was foggy but you could see the stars. We decided to find a better view a bit north from there. We drove to Misi and stopped in one of the bus stops in the middle of nowhere. It was hard to understand for the students why you need a bus stop in the middle of nowhere. Maybe they are for the reindeer :)

We built the shuttlepod pointing the northern sky and started the timelapse. This time we were not lucky to get any big auroras. Only a slight green shining on the horizon. The view was still amazing. We were there for a little bit more than 2 hours and the extra clothes that I brought seemed to be a good idea. Dominik, Jakub and Tommaso volunteered to join the aurora expeditions later on this winter. And we hear more about those trips later on. Here´s the star view timelapse that we got.