Saturday, February 4, 2012

-32°C, In the wildernes, filming Landscapes & Northern Lights

31th of Jan - 01st of Feb 2012 we had a commercial shoot at Levi. We filmed Huskies and Reindeer and it was pretty cold, around -30°C. The wind was also pretty rough between 5-10m/s. Pretty much the hardest weather I´ve been filming. After the shoot we drove back to Rovaniemi and our producer Pera drove to Saariselkä to pick our snowmobile.

Between Levi and Inari, in the middle of nowhere Pera called me and said that "there´s 100km of moneyshot landscape scenery in here and the freezing weather makes it only better. You just can´t let this be unfilmed" It was already sunset and we were driving to Rovaniemi. We decided that we´ll load the batteries over night in Rovaniemi and then we´ll head back to north to film some moneyshot scenery.

So the Adventure started.

Our writer/director P.J.Piippo was voluntary to join the extreme trip. We would have had accomodation in Saariselkä Tunturihotelli, but I wanted to film some night sky timelapse in the wilderness. So the name of the game was to sleep over night in my caravan car in the middle of the nowhere.

It was pretty cold and of course there´s no electricity out there. We were pretty well prepar
ed though. We had car battery(65Ah), caravan battery(120Ah), Shuttlepod battery(65A/h), 2Kw generator, battery loader, 10l gasoline, two 11kg bottles of liquid gas and just in case 500ml of finish brandy called Jaloviina (if everything goes wrong)

The morning didn´t start like it should have. All the odds were saying that you shouldn´t go on that trip. I tried to start my caravan in the morning and of course it didn´t start. It was in the electricity 2h before the start but still no.. I took the 120Ah reserve battery and broom.. it started. I drove to the office and kept the car running while we packed the equipment. We drove to the gasoline station to fill the diesel. I stopped the car on the wrong stop and when I tried to start it again it didn´t say a thing.. "SHIT" this can´t be happening, I wanted to go so much. I opened the hood and realized that the battery connector has broken in the pieces. Little bit of MacGyverness and I fixed it with almost the correct sparepart that I found in my car. They didn´t had any in the gasoline station. At this point I thought that with this luck we´ll die in the wilderness with these temperatures, no matter how well prepared.

The plan A was to stop at Levi to film some sunrise shots but because our luck we were behind the schedule and we had to drive fast to get the sunset pictures between Kittilä and Inari. And when we arrived there I understood what Pera was saying.

There was fairytale landscape as far as you could see. We stopped on the road and built the camera. There was practically no traffic in the road. We walked 100m from the road and from there where ever you pointed your camera you had just amazing picture. We took maybe 10-15 shots and then we continued the journey. We drove about 50km and stopped every now and then to take the moneyshot pictures. We filmed mostly 4K and 4K HDR video which means that we can use it as a video or we can take good stills from it easily. I would have filmed 5K but our Zeiss mkII cine lenses don´t cover the full 5K frame you´ll get vingeting in the corners.

I´m really waiting for the Ti-Canon mount so I can use Canon L-Primes at least in scenery filming.

After the sunset we started to seek a good place where we could stop our car and build our camp for sleeping and timelapse. It was a narrow road so it was difficult. When we got closer to Inari we lost the snow from the trees. It was bit of a disapointment but there was no place to camp in the moneyshot landscape. We found a wider part of the road little bit closer the Inari and we made our camp there. There was no NorthernLights in the sky but the sky was clear and it was almost fullmoon (really bright). We checked the compass and built the shuttlepod pointing to the northern sky. First time I had really problems with the temperature. It was -32°C. I had very good and many layers of clothes, but my fingers and the electrical equipment were suffering. Oracle controllers were slow as hell. When you pressed a button it took 5sec. to get to next page of the menu & so on. So it took about 2hours to build the shuttlepod and get the camera (60D with magic lantern) to take the timelapse. I almost gave up because it was so cold and the equipment didn´t do what I wanted them to do. Finaly I thought that the timelapse and motorized dolly started working. I knew that it wasn´t exactly what I wanted but I couldn´t do any better. I set it 30s exposure and 1min interval. It was too slow for northern lights but good for star timelapse
(there was no northern lights and I didn´t had any fast lens with me).

I took a swig (a couple) from our rescue bottle and went inside the caravan. It was +4°C inside and the heater was almost full power. I said P.J. that I rest a while and asked him to wake me up in midnight so we could do another timelapse. I had my winter clothes and couple felts over me, My dog Jedi also came under the felt to warm himself. I totaly passed out and didn´t woke up when P.J. tried to woke me up. Whole day & evening in -30°C made the job and I didn´t have to wait for sleep.

In the morning it was already +10°C inside. Luxury you could say. I went out and took the camera from the shuttlepod. Scrolled the pictures and found out that the whole northern sky was full of northern lights in the night.. Nice!

I pulled the generator on and started to heat the car. I wonder why I don´t have to heat the generator to make it start in -30°C. Maybe the engine is not as big as in the car.. We wraped the shuttlepod and packed it in the car and waited another 30min for car to get heated.

With second try it started without a problem. And I have to say that my car is from 1989.

We filmed the sunrise at Inari & Saariselkä and the weather was hardcore. -30°C and the wind was up in the hills 10-15m/s. You just couldn´t show any bare skin on that wind. But the scenery was awesome!

I am really waiting for more these kind of trips. Lapland is full of these fairytale landscapes if you just go little bit further from the normal spots.