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.

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