Capturing Extreme BMX Action For Red Bull

Wed, May 17, 2017
Gear Seven produces BMX episode for Red Bull using Teradek Bolt
Credit: @gearseven @joshmcgwn

Red Bull is one of those brands that are involved in just about any extreme sporting event, whether that’s the X-Games, Motocross, Pikes Peak Hill Climb, or the US Open of Surfing. For some of these events, they sponsor athletes, but for others they create compelling video series that bring the action and excitement to viewers on TV and online.

Red Bull’s Raditudes mini-series is one such example. The production profiles the world’s most daring BMX riders and dives into what motivates them to be the best of their breed. After 3 seasons on air, the show has become a favorite in the BMX world.


Gear Seven wanted to contribute to the series, but they’d face huge challenges pulling it off. A production company based in Nashville, Tennessee, Gear Seven produced commercials for Gibson, Zillow, Sony and many other brands, and wanted to create an episode featuring local Nashville BMX rider Corey Martinez, who they thought would be perfect for the Raditudes series. However, it wasn’t easy getting this finished, and required some ingenuity and technology to accomplish. Here’s how the season 3 finale “Must Dust” came about.

Nothing But A Passion Project

The project was met with difficulty before productions even began. When they pitched the idea to Red Bull, the energy drink giant wasn’t sold on the episode, which meant no initial client funding for the production. Without funding, most projects don’t have the incentive to get the production off the ground and would move on to other things.

But that didn’t stop Gear Seven from moving forward, however. A fan of action sports, freelance director Josh McGowan and rider Corey Martinez had the passion to take the leap, and pitched the idea to executive producer Kirk Slawek to fund the production without Red Bull, hoping they’d pick it up after seeing the results. After a bit of reluctance, they agreed to give it a shot.

“My main intention in the messaging of this piece was really just about being true to who you are when you create, and using the resources you have available to make something simply because you love it,” said McGowan, Director of the episode. “We produced it hoping they would pick it up, but if they didn’t, it would still be an awesome experience for us.”

The set of Must Dust for Red Bull's Raditudes series.
Gear Seven on location prepping for the shoot.

When the crew scouted an abandoned warehouse location, it was a giant, empty space with no semblances of a bike park. To the production team, though, it was a blank canvas to create something extraordinary. Corey and his crew assembled most of the set’s props out of materials found in the abandoned warehouse. After a week of carving ramps and planning shots, the crew was ready to film.

BMX In Action

Set of Raditudes Must Dust with Ronin stabilizer on a 4-wheeler
Ronin stabilizer mounted to 4-wheeler with Bolt 600 transmitter for director’s monitor in video village.

Since most of the shots were quick and action-based, Director McGowan and his crew needed to be mobile while capturing the shots. To do this, they mounted a DJI Ronin gimbal stabilizer to the back of a 4-wheeler. A RED Weapon camera was strapped to the stabilizer with the Teradek Bolt 600 wireless transmitter.

Following Corey around in the 4-wheeler as he performed his stunts, the camera operator used the Bolt transmitter to send the RED Weapon’s video and audio feed with zero-delay to 2 Teradek Sidekick receivers in the video village. The Sidekicks then transferred the feeds to a SmallHD 702 and a SmallHD 1703, one as director’s monitor and one for the rest of the crew. They could remotely pull focus from the video village.

On set of Raditudes with Gear Seven shooting Corey Martinez jumping through the wall.
One of Corey’s coolest stunts used colored-smoke emitters.

Because the scenes required the camera operator to either sprint beside Corey or follow with the 4-wheeler, the Bolt really played an important role here. With constant moving, having no wires tethered to the RED Weapon meant complete mobility for the camera operator and one less thing to worry about. On the video village side, director McGowan monitored the shot on his director’s monitor and made adjustments as they were captured, saving time from potential reshoots and, ultimately, money. It also ensured that all of the footage was visually compelling enough to impress their prospective sponsors.

“It wouldn’t have been possible without the Bolt. Sometimes we had to squeeze into tight spaces. We had to be constantly moving, and there would be no way to keep up with that without the wireless monitoring,” said McGowan.

Sponsored By Red Bull

Must Dust: Corey Martinez - Director's Cut from Josh McGowan on Vimeo.

 

What started out as a passion project became a huge success when, after pitching the piece to Red Bull when they finished production, Red Bull decided to purchase their piece and feature “Must Dust” as the season 3 finale of Raditudes. The episode was played on Red Bull TV & YouTube and promoted through Red Bull’s social media.

“We paid for it upfront with no guarantee that Red Bull would jump on board - we really hoped they would. After we finished, they jumped on board and purchased the license to use it in their show,” explained McGowan.

But for Gear Seven and Corey, the entire project was much more than for a sponsorship and recognition. It was just combining what they loved and finding a way to make it happen.

“‘Must Dust’ is a pretty literal thing in the context of dusting a warehouse and using powder explosions. But at a deeper level, it’s really about reminding yourself of that initial passion you had for what you do. A lot of us didn’t believe this project would happen, but thanks to the support of Corey and everyone, we made it.”