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Old November 22nd, 2006, 03:21 PM   #1
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Any tips for a low budget ski film?

hey guys... I will be shooting a ski film this winter with around 10 local skiers. I've been watching movies like Warren Miller: Higher Ground and many more.

I'm just wondering if there are any tips you can offer for shooting a good ski film.


Thanks.
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Old November 24th, 2006, 05:28 AM   #2
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for what it is worth

Hi Steve-
I am new myself, but here is my advice. Snow can reflect a lot of light and may limit some shots- neutral density filters will help if available.
You may need to find shots where you can shoot the skier from a good vantage point. Scouting the mountain for your positions and shots before shooting will provide you a much better first day of filming. If you know the run intimately or won't shoot stationary shots then this may be less important. Hard to plug a cord into snow, so consider extra batteries. If you're only shooting with one camera you might need a double dose of creativity to help your viewers get outside of that one camera. Since you don't have the option of three cameras and a helicopter try to do some creative shooting. If your friends can recreate part of their run for you, splice the two in post and get the appearance of multiple cams. If you can find an MP3 player that records, using a mic on a skier might work better than your mic, especially if shooting from a windy vantage or distance. One more consideration is protecting your camera and tapes from the inherent moisture around you. Good luck- Dan
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Old November 24th, 2006, 07:13 AM   #3
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Presumably these local skiers are experienced, good skiers and you may want some decent action shots. I do not know how good a skier you are, but in my experience it is rather difficult to get good shots from stationary points, due to all the zooming that must be done. Often you have to go a short way down, get your skis off, and these ski boots are not the best for nice mobility to make pans and the snow may make it slippery when icy or when soft, make for even more difficult positioning. Off track in powder this is very difficult. It might be worthwhile to consider a helmet mounted camera or shooting with the camera in hand while skiing downhill with them. It entails some risk of falling, but that can be alleviated with a good rainslicker or polar bear cover. Do exercise skiing without poles beforehand, so you can easily make your turns and control your speed. Another suggestion is to use a monopod, that also acts as a skipole. I personally use a Gitzo 1560 Monotrek carbon monopod for that. Mostly I use a backpack for my VX2000 while skiing. When skiing with the camera in hand I just hold the two poles in my other hand for balance. The previous remark about ND filters is valid, but often these are built-in. I use a pola filter in addition to the built-in ND filters. Mic's on skiers is nonsense in my opinion, since who has ever heard a skier talk while making a descent. They talk when they stop. Also, when skiing with the camera in hand during a descent, you will get all the wind noise anyway.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old November 24th, 2006, 08:26 AM   #4
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i've been shooting ski/snowboard films for couple of years for now, additionally to previous tips i would add:

your camera might get frozen, i use vx2100 and if i dont wrap it in plastic bag, it will freeze for sure. But on other hand, my partner is shooting with FX1 and he never wraps it and it never freezes. You might consider building a cable cam, its like a cheap helicopter....

to get inspiration whats ELEKREP, which is probably the best snowboard movie ever made. u can download it for free: http://www.elekrep.com/
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Old November 24th, 2006, 12:38 PM   #5
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Maybe you remember the James Bond film 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' which has some spectacular skiing scenes. Might be worth to have a look at prior to starting the shoot.

I do not know how they established their shots. All I know is that my private ski instructor was the stuntman for James Bond (Sean Connery) during the descent from Piz Gloria down from the Schilthorn to Stechelberg. He got injured by the way during one of the shoots (tore his Achilles heel) and from that moment, unfortunately for me, I had to get a different instructor. OT, he didn't do too bad, since later I got to skiing for some time with Marie Therese Nadig (Gold medallist at the Olympics in Nagano) and Walter Tresch (Silver medallist at the Olympics in Nagano). We were all in the same class in school and went skiing 4 to 5 days a week.

About the previous poster's remark concerning freezing cameras, I've never experienced that, but be aware of condensation when you enter a restaurant, the humidity can be extreme. Also keep your spare batteries warm, close to your body. Keep lens cleaning materials close by.
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Old November 24th, 2006, 01:08 PM   #6
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I'd also support the moving shot recommendation. One thing with technique - you need to decide about verticals. You can elect to keep vertical vertical - so the horizon will stay level. For slow skiing, I think this looks best, and is more conventional. The big snag is skiers don't stay vertical, especially when doing tight turns, so the skipole idea works quite well as long as you don't let the bottom kick out during the turns. Helmet cams, and body worn cameras suffer badly from tilting the verticals. For fast stuff it can be quite exciting. I've had success with mounting a small consumer dv camera on a stickypod, and wearing this under my ski kit, with the camera support arm and gimble mount sticking out forwards. the only snag here is that you need to keep your body towards the subject - so fall line skiing, following the person you are shooting works fine, but as soon as they turn, it is too late, they zoom out of shot before you can move your body position.

I like hand held shots, looking right or left of the direction of travel, showing a side view of the subject. I agree with the wind comments, but worse, sniffing. I always seem to sniff - all of the time.

One comment on batteries. keep them warm - when they are cold you'l get maybe 50% of the time you get in warm climates. If you are using any type of camera, keep it at the local ambient temperature - going into the ski bars produces condensation instantly, until they aclimatise.

Filters - it is really easy to run off the aperture range of the camera - so the ND filter idea is great advice. A ND grad filter is a really useful tool too.

If you use small consumer size, up to pd170 size cameras, then a normal camera bag is not too much trouble on lifts. If you have a tripod, intending to leapfrog down the hills - always enlist the lift ops to get the heavy stuff up safely - the lift queue is damn tricky with kit.

If you are going to leapfog - as in crew ski down, stop, set up. subjects ski past. crew overtake and do it again - then an essential item are walkie talkies. without them they ski past without you rolling tape - damn!

Auto white balance often works well - after all, plenty of white for it to lock on to. worst shots will be when the sky is overcast, or even snowing heavily - blizzards don't reflect on tape what they are really like.

Crashes

If you fall over with a naked handicam style camera it doesn't mean death. Snow is pretty dry until slushy, so blow it off, and all will be well in most cases. If you have a camera with large gaps in the casing, then snow can get in, and then when it melts things get unpleasant. I tend to use a raincoat, but I have seen people skiing with their camera inside a knitted coat - like a woolley hat - just keeps the snow out! Looks a bit silly - but what the heck?

When we do skiing shoots, my sons skis backwards, I can't do this, despite trying for years. He gets the shots from the front. It is possible to shoot backwards while travelling forwards, but I find this really difficult.
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Old November 24th, 2006, 01:45 PM   #7
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hi, i've made a ski film last year in europe, it took the whole season to film. we used FX1s Z1Us and XL-H1. its called ski city and can be viewed here. it has sold loads(couple of hundred in the first few weeks) and went really well.

if you have some specific questions, email me. chas aat runjumpfly.net

also, go and buy/rent some Matchstick productions, Poorboyz prodcutions, and The Bigger Picture Films.

this years Film from TBP is called show and prove and is awesome!

we had no budget by the way, so i know how difficult it can be!
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Old November 24th, 2006, 01:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harm Millaard
I do not know how good a skier you are, but in my experience it is rather difficult to get good shots from stationary points, due to all the zooming that must be done.
i'm not a great skiier, but i disagree thats its hard to get good shoots, its not, i've did it all last season.
Quote:
Often you have to go a short way down, get your skis off, and these ski boots are not the best for nice mobility to make pans and the snow may make it slippery when icy or when soft, make for even more difficult positioning. Off track in powder this is very difficult.
again,i disagree. in powder it may be harder to walk, but its going to be easier to stead your self or your tripod.

also, what you said about sound is right, no one seriously records sound on skiiers. it never turns out right and is just plain crap. put some good music over it!
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