Winter Olympics are just around the corner, and cinematographers are hard at work prepping for the big broadcasts that millions of Americans will be tuning into on NBC starting Feb 8. From TV commercial teasers to promo videos, NBC is making a massive push to publicize their Pyeongchang programming. This includes capturing the new Team USA Figure Skating lineup in their most glorious fashions to ramp up hype for the events.
But filming figure skaters takes some immense creativity and boldness to do properly. Who’d be crazy enough to take a camera and film on ice? Camera ops Aaron Mendez!
Gathering at the SAP Center in San Jose, California, Mendez was tasked with putting on ice skates and trailing the pros as they demonstrated their skills on camera. For the acquisition, Teradek Bolt was an essential piece.
Filming on Thin Ice
Last weekend I had the opportunity to shoot on the ice at the SAP Center with the entire US Figure Skating team in San Jose for an upcoming @nbcsports promo. I’ve been on the ice before with my @freeflysystems #movipro but never with this setup. DP: @tm5000 lit the rink beautifully and had good instincts to choose the 40mm Kowa Anamorphic lens we flew on the EPIC. @ascendingworks was just off the ice nailing focus off of the @teradek bolt feed which free’d me up to just frame shots in majestic mode. Thanks so much to producer @kgerringer for bringing us out. I can’t wait for you all to see what we captured! Follow my Winter Olympics Experience from Korea on insta-stories to see what I’m up to on a daily basis! Rad BTS photos by @kimbroslice PS: You’ll be happy to know @nathanwchen ‘s skate is fine and my monitor only sustained minor injuries. * * * * * * * * #bts #figureskating #olympics #iceskating #mōvimethod #freeflyers @teradek @reddigitalcinema #kowaanamorphic #cinematography
This wasn’t an easy feat. The DP and crew needed to monitor the shot from outside the rink, but laying a cable on the ice obviously wasn’t going to cut it. Instead, they needed a way to monitor the shot wirelessly for focus pulling and directing. For this, Mendez relied on the Bolt 1000.
Bolt 1000 is a video transmitter that sends instant, visually lossless 1080p video wirelessly to a receiver up to 1000 ft. away. Monitors can pick up a color-accurate & detail-accurate image without needing any cables. It also features a built-in spectrum analyzer for custom channel selection in RF congested areas.
- RED EPIC-W with 40mm KOWA Anamorphic lens
- Freefly Movi Pro with Movi Controller
- Teradek Bolt 1000
The RED EPIC was mounted to the Freefly MoVI Pro gimbal system, allowing Mendez to keep the camera steady. Connected to the camera was a Bolt 1000 transmitter, sending a feed to a receiver on the DP’s monitor in video village. From video village, 1st AC Keaton Bowlby used the live feed from the Bolt to remotely pull focus with the MoVI Controller. All shots filmed in MoVI Pro’s majestic mode.
The production team needed to capture the athletes in a way that could garner the hype and interest that NBC wanted for their Olympic 2018 program, and Mendez’s team knew filming close-ups of the skaters in action was key. So they decided to rely on the Bolt 1000 wireless video system to get the perfect shots. A completely wireless, handheld workflow.
“Having the Bolt 1000 enabled us to send a wireless video feed from the EPIC off the ice to my AC Keaton as he pulled focus wirelessly. This allowed me to be able to skate more freely and focus on framing shots, trusting that Keaton will nail the focus.”
Aaron Mendez will be camera operating in Pyeongchang starting Feb. 8 on NBC. Check out more of his work @aaronmendezfilms.