When I received the call that Teton Gravity Research was interested in using our Epic on their upcoming commercial shoot, I was overwhelmed. I actually hesitated to tell anyone, as I wasn’t even sure the deal would happen. But it did, and now I get to tell the story of a very Epic shoot.
I met the Teton crew at the Denver airport and quick introductions had a feel-good vibe. Everyone was smart, funny, and laid back. Todd Jones, the Director and DP, was every bit the ski film director, right down to his skater shoes and wide brim Teton cap. But his attitude was all business. We said hello, and then came the questions. Could we get a 16:9 aspect ratio at 5K? What compression ratio would we be dealing with at 300 fps? Would the 10mm lens vignette at the short end? All good questions, and we hadn’t even walked through the gate yet. As I watched our Epic go onto the checked bag cart, I concluded this was going to be an intense shoot.
Two hours later we landed in Fargo with a huge pile of gear and a lot to do. The Teton crew pretty much took over the fourth floor of the Radisson, using an entire conference room for production meetings and to stage gear. As I would be assisting Todd on camera, Teton brought their own digital imaging technician, Jill Garreffi, and she and I spent several hours going over the finer details of check sum verification and how to build a wireless monitoring network with a Teradek Cube, which Teton had rented for the shoot. After some teamwork investigating, we were able to get a wireless image from the Epic to an iPad, a good first mission success. I lulled off to sleep that night with excitement and anticipation.
The next day was a full day of location scouting at a local hockey rink. (Shooting on ice is awesome; everything slides!) The actual shoot on day three was great, and the Epic held up like a champ. I got the chance to throw a Canon mount onto the Epic for the first time, and it worked like a charm. Todd ran the Canon 70-200mm L series II on it, as well as the 16-35mm and a Zeiss CP.2 package on the PL mount, and the mobility of the camera really started to shine. The Teradek worked great for monitoring, so we shot all day wild and free. As usual, the Red brick batteries performed exceptionally, delivering a full two hours of power before changing out. All the high-speed footage did fill up our cards pretty quickly, but Jill was managing data full-time, and we never did hit the wall of needing more cards.
The next shoot took us to Brainerd, Minnesota, and it was the true Epic test. We spent two days on a lake (I can’t remember which one, but according to the border sign, there are ten thousand of them in that state), one of those in the rain. Although the cold slowed down the shoot a little, the Epic trucked along like a kid full of candy. I watched Todd dangle the camera over the water in a boat tower while chasing a wake boarder at 40 mph. I also mastered the stress of changing mounts under a coat during a downpour while moving at speed. Not something I’d prefer to repeat, but I had no issues. The best part of the day was watching my camera swing out over the water on an 18-foot crane to capture our subject ride his board over a rail built out of actual windows by our amazing grip, “Grip” Jeff Villar. After all was said and done, a hard and rewarding day of shooting.
Our last two days were back to back, so after leaving the lake, we were up bright and early to the local motocross track to pit a team of bikers against the loudest, biggest monster truck I’ve ever seen. I can’t decide what was more inspiring: witnessing the most beautiful sunrise I’ve ever seen, or the sight of this massive beast launching into midair while the bikers flew by behind it, all shot at 300 fps.
I can honestly say there is nothing like working with Teton Gravity. They are smart, funny, talented, and dedicated. I can see why Todd chose the team he did to work on this shoot, and I’m glad I can call them friends. We managed to shoot what may be one of the most epic windows commercials ever made, and had a great time doing it. Epic, indeed.