For the last week or so a certain action sports mountain bike video became viral, not only because of the performance of the rider in the video itself but also due to the way the whole thing was filmed. This piece is definitely unique as it’s the first full segment in a mountain bike film that was captured in a single, continuous shot in a very atypical manner, considering the conventional ways action sports are generally filmed.
Before we see the behind the scenes footage, let’s first retrieve the video that already generated almost 2 million views on YouTube where the famous slopestyle mountain bike rider Brandon Semenuk rolls down a custom trail while the camera seemingly follows his performance.
Unlike many other similar projects where action sports events are usually captured from multiple angles, this segment was entirely filmed with a single camera mounted on a high-end 5-axis gyro-stabilized platform called the GSS C520.
You’d normally see this system up in the air mounted on a helicopter or drone carrying Arri Alexa XT Ms, Red Epics, Sony PMW-F55s and other high-end cameras, however in this case, it was mounted on a truck.
As we can see, the planning and work that was done in advance for this project to capture the given 4-minute piece was massive and mind-boggling, to say the least. The team made a custom parallel road for the truck to be able to follow the rider down the hill and keep him in the frame. Furthermore, the crew of four – a driver, a camera operator, a focus puller, and the director himself – spent 10 days on rehearsing the shot.
Many people wonder wouldn’t it be much easier if they mount the camera on a drone and capture the whole thing in a couple of hours, rather than spending a whole month, but I’m sure that using this exact technique brought the aesthetics and dynamics of the segment that made it so special and distinctive in the end.
I also tend to believe that you can get similar results (with a lot of practice and experience) if you use a (big and expensive) UAV instead, yet it wouldn’t be much different from the hundreds (or even thousands) other action sports videos that have been shot this way.
Ultimately, the above behind the scenes footage is another great example showing how much planning, time, and resources usually it takes to put together a project on that scale. The final piece may run for three or four minutes, but often it may take days or even months to be completed.
The film “unReal” is available for download on iTunes here, and “Yes” it’s definitely worth watching.