The Journey

One of our favorite parts of the NAB Show is highlighting all of the new video content we’ve been working on in the months leading up to April. Between getting all our new prototypes and products show-ready and uploading the latest creative work, it’s always a sprint to the finish for us up in Seattle. Working with ARRI this past year has added to the busy schedule, but it’s also been one of the most rewarding collaborations we’ve been a part of. “The Journey” video represents a year of good work with the folks over in Germany; and the building anticipation that it’s creating for the forthcoming ALEXA Mini is certainly not misplaced.

Production on ARRI’s The Journey took us all across our home state. From Port Hadlock to Lake Wenatchee, the ALEXA Mini on the MōVI M15 captured stunning imagery on a variety of platforms. The Journey also marks the first production to capture images with the new Freefly ALTA, our next-generation aerial platform (Synapse flight control included!) and the film is also one of the first productions to use the Freefly WEDGE, our new 3-axis lens control system, designed from the ground up for integration with the MōVI.

We received three updated prototype cameras from ARRI in March just days before we were scheduled to pick up our first shots at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding. These ALEXA Mini’s came with welcome updates from the early prototype we used this past November for The Balloonist. Among the updates to the camera were the fully-functional internal ND filters and the integration of the AMIRA web app for remote camera control. These additions quickly pay for themselves, especially when transitioning from aerials to indoor shots quickly due to rapidly changing weather conditions in areas such as Port Hadlock.

The lenses of choice for The Journey were a set of ARRI Ultra Primes T1.9, which were provided by our friends at Koerner Camera. The lenses ranged from 16mm to 85mm, with most weighing in between 2.2 and 2.6 pounds; perfect for the ALEXA Mini on the M15.

For lens control, our AC Alisa paired the MōVI Controller to the Freefly WEDGE. The WEDGE can communicate with most industry standard 7-pin lens motors and most often we had the Hedén M21VE-L motors on the A-Cam setup. The WEDGE attaches to a new top camera rail, which allows for an incredibly rigid mounting in the MōVI’s camera cage on even the most crowded of setups.

The first shoot day was met with gray skies and light rain, which was ideal for continuity on the interior shots at the boat building school. We were able to keep the lenses dry long enough on the talent’s (boat builder Peter Bailey) boat for a few laps in the bay. The ALTA spent quite a bit of time flying over Bertie (Peter’s ship) and one of our favorite shots is a sweeping move passing around the front of the boat at an altitude of about 15 feet. This shot was captured with the 50mm lens we had on hand and was the last of the three lenses we used for the aerial setups.

Another exciting setup from the day was a series of macro shots executed with Peter’s boat-building workshop. We threw a Zeiss Compact Prime 50mm Macro on the ALEXA Mini for the shots of the pencil moving across the blueprints sprawled on the workbench. These were achieved with some rope rigging done in the rafters of the building, which allowed Brad to slowly push in and out of the shot without any vertical translation evident in the move. Between the long lensed aerial shots and an elegant way to get macros, we were more than pleased with the footage we picked up in Port Hadlock.

The Journey took us to many familiar Pacific Northwest locales, including the famous 775-foot dock at Indianola, WA. This location let us flex the ALTA’s power both over the dock and among the back roads of the small town, where we were also filming out of the back of Hugh’s car once we did a couple passes from above. On this day of shooting, the internal ND filters really proved valuable, as we were shifting between the deep shade of the trees lining the roads and the blinding sun where we picked up some establishing shots for the scenes with the motorcycle.

One of the most memorable scenes from the project has to be the JetRanger helicopter to seaplane shots we captured over Lake Wenatchee and the North Cascades toward the end of the production. Taking off from a nearby farm, the shots over the lake were captured while most of the crew was prepping for a different scene a few miles down the road on the shore of the lake.

The DHC-2 Beaver seaplane stole the show with its vintage appeal and we were fortunate to have our BTS shooter using the ALEXA Mini as well so that he could pick up shots inside the plane while Brad and Hugh flew the ALTA parallel to the aircraft for a few establishing shots. The weather wasn’t looking promising for flight so having the multi-cam setup saved us from having to scrap shots with the plane that couldn’t be attained any other way, given the tight production schedule.

The last shoot day required a small crew to take off in a helicopter from Olympia and fly two hours to a snowy ridgeline adjacent to Dragontail Peak and Mt. Stuart in the North Cascades. From here, the team picked off a few shots with a campsite they mocked up. But the real excitement came from the shots with the ALTA, tracking Jeff Marsh along the ridge. The last couple shots captured Jeff cresting the ridge and are some of the most spectacular images seen in the final cut.

While many of the shots involved the ALTA and helicopters over various waters and the Cascades, we still had a lot of ground to cover with the M15 in Dual Operator Mode. From the inside of Peter’s ship to the woods surrounding Lake Wenatchee, the five-pound Mini on the M15 was supported by a Paralinx Tomahawk to send video to the SmallHD AC7 that was mounted on the MōVI Controller, where we were also pulling focus and shifting iris with the Freefly WEDGE. Justin was on the behind-the-scenes camera and pulled his own focus with the Redrock Micro thumbwheel, attached to a new Torque Motor from Redrock.

The seven-day production schedule was met with an equally brisk post-production phase. Picture lock occurred within 72 hours of Casey and Danielle beginning the edit, and sound design and mixing was completed at Clatter & Din in the 24 hours after that. Jeff at Lightpress finishing color for the project less than a week before NAB 2015, which is where the piece made its debut in both our booth and ARRI’s. No project is complete without a song from the Music Bed, and A. Taylor’s arrangement was the perfect companion to the imagery we captured.

Photos provided by Jeff Marsh.