Making my way through old shots for other projects often results in finding stuff I had completely forgotten about. Before we lived in the Bay Area, I was there for some other reason. I was down near the water and there was a film crew working on a production of some sort. The character was on a dock and was approached by some other guys at which point he falls into the water. There was a diver that got set up in the water beforehand for safety purposes. Then they filmed the sequence. I don’t recall them doing it more than once which made it easier than drying the guy off and giving him fresh clothes, I guess!
One of the bigger attractions at the Antelope Valley Air Show, held at Edwards AFB, was the appearance of the Darkstar plane from Top Gun Maverick. Obviously not a real plane (and not even the real Darkstar which was a reconnaissance UAV that never progressed beyond testing), it was part of a hugely popular movie so garnered a ton of attention. It was parked in the static display alongside a very real SR-71 Blackbird. This was something I found far more interesting having seen them fly for real in my younger days. The Darkstar was still fun to see. I am not that churlish.
Downtown Chelan is not a big area but it has been around for a while and so has its movie theater. This theater has a look that is exactly what you would imagine for an oldie time movie theater. Having lots of cars parked up in front of it kind of ruins the ambience a bit and, if I had been around another time, I might have tried to find a way to get a cleaner shot of it at an odd time of day but this was just a brief opportunity to stroll around the town so it is what it is.
Walking through the streets of Vancouver one weekend, we came up to an intersection. There was a Porsche sitting on a trailer with two people in it. It quickly became apparent that they were doing some filming. The woman was an actor and the man was filming here. There was a vehicle pulling the trailer with some of the production staff sitting on it. Initially I was focused on what they were doing but then I started to look around.
The whole convoy was all related to the filming. There was a motorcycle escort supporting them and other vehicles from the production team. Everything on the street was controlled. You often feel when watching street scenes that they are filming in an open environment but a lot of the time it is totally controlled. Only us and the other pedestrians could be considered random variables in the whole process. The light stayed red for a while with the cameraman trying a variety of positions and then the lights changed and the whole ground headed off to the next block. We went on our way too.
These shots are from a few years ago. I had the privilege to spend a day with the late Alan Purwin during the filming for one of the Transformers movies in Chicago. I got to fly with them on some of the shoot but I also was on the ground when they went off on part of the filming. I put myself directly ahead of the Astar when they took off and Alan buzzed me. I noticed when going through the images that the cameraman was tracking me with the stabilized mount on the nose as they flew over the top.
The team from Helinet was in town recently as part of a movie shoot. With the end of the shoot coming up, I was asked to get some shots of the helicopter in the city. Alan knows exactly what he is doing when flying in amongst the city buildings and can put the helicopter wherever I wanted it for the images. We even got lucky with some great weather. (The following day, it was foggy and no go at all!)
With some advance planning and some good communication during the shoot, we were able to position the helicopter to look dynamic in amongst the buildings. It would have been good to get some video too but time was limited and stills were required so that is what we did. A fun shoot and great people to work with.
Every once in a while, I am reminded of something that has happened before and I realize that this took place in the days before I started blogging. Then I have to decide whether it is fair to you, my dedicated reader, to roll out something that is several years old as a blog post. If it is interesting enough, why not. Besides, my life is not always so interesting so getting material is a case of taking it when you have it.
The subject in this case is a helicopter. “no, surely not” I hear you cry. It’s not like I ever write about or photograph helicopters. This is true. Indeed, this helicopter was involved in filming in the city which, as some recent posts will show, is not a particularly new topic either. This film, though, was Transformers 3. The filming of Transformers was a big deal in the city. Major streets were shut for days at a time and set construction to make them look like they had been demolished was impressive. As I think about it, I should probably post some pictures of that too at some point (note to self…).
Alan Purwin of Helinet was the pilot for the helicopter used for filming. It was a Eurocopter Astar (Squirrel for those of you in the UK and Ecureuil for the French speakers). It had a large camera mount on the nose to hold the cinema camera. Until recently, it was relatively easy to tell movie shoots from TV shoots by the size of the mount. Now film cameras are being replaced with such digital powerhouses as the Reds, the mount sizes are no longer so obvious.
There was filming day and night (including people skydiving into the shots from other helicopters and, if memory serves, the Trump Tower) and some pretty dramatic explosions. The Astar would fly around the river a lot getting shots and sometimes the shots were of people on the buildings so it would be flying close to them. All of this was a treat for someone like me. Just watching it was great fun but I got some shots too.
The plan had been to write a piece on Helinet. However, Paramount were not keen on having anything come out until the movie was released (a year later!) so the article stumbled a little. Then, there was an accident on one of the sets out of the city in which a woman received terrible injuries and the whole production schedule changed and Alan headed off to other projects. It would be nice to follow that one up again at some point.
This one will not necessarily be what you were expecting. Despite the title, this is not about flying – at least in the normal context of this blog. This is about snowboarding. Some time last year, I came across a trailer for a movie called Art of Flight. It is a movie in which some of the world’s best snowboarders go to some of the most remote parts of the planet to ride slopes that have not been ridden before.
Red Bull, ever one to support extreme sports activities, obviously provided a lot of support to this process with a number of Red Bull helicopters showing up throughout the film. Helicopters are the best way to get to some of these locations but even then the trip can be a bit hairy. Some of the helicopter flying is pretty extreme as well!
The featured snowboarder is Travis Rice. This guy certainly knows what he is about and is willing to try some amazing stuff. He is joined by a variety of guys in the different locations but they all like to try some cool descents across terrain with little in the way of forgiveness and weather that doesn’t always want to cooperate. They also go to some more normal locations but try some amazing tricks even then.
All of this sport would be impressive on its own but that is not what makes this film special. The magic comes from the way it is filmed by Curt Morgan. He makes use of innovative filming technology and improvisation and a lot of cameras to film the boarding from multiple angles to provide a phenomenal perspective. The quality of the camerawork and the editing turn this from good to great.
I got the BluRay/DVD box so I can watch it now on DVD and on BluRay in HiDef when I get around to having a BluRay player! You can get it at Amazon and I certainly recommend it. In the mean time, check out the trailer below to get a sense of what is included.
One of the things that happens a lot in Chicago is the filming of movies. These can be small scale movies that will be unlikely to make a big impact to blockbusters. The recent Batman films were shot in Chicago for example. One film that really took over the city for a while was Transformers 3. I haven’t been to see the film – Netflix for that one I think – but they really destroyed the sections of the city around where I live if the trailers are anything to go by.
The city granted them an amazing amount of access including closing Michigan Avenue for quite some time. A lot was filmed across the river from us on Wacker Drive. Two aspects of the filming were fun for me. First they had made some pretty impressive effects for the cityscape with ripped up concrete and destroyed vehicles scattered around which you could get very close to. The second thing was the use of aerial filming. A lot of filming was done from an Astar and it seemed to spend a lot of time hovering near enough that I could take photos – admittedly through the windows which doesn’t always help.
They also had some skydivers both jumping from helicopters into the city and also base jumping from the buildings. I saw bits of that but was not close to it all. I did see a few sequences being set up. It is interesting just how long it takes for a sequence to be put together, rehearsed and finally shot. I saw a bunch of guys on wires getting hauled into the air numerous times before they finally shot it with the explosions going live.
They also filmed a sequence with explosions along the rooftops of a number of buildings along the ricer. We should have been suspicious as we sat in our living room in the evening when we heard the helicopter again but it was only as the buildings started erupting that we realized what was happening.