Chase Hawk // Oakley
Chase Hawk and I have known each other for a long time but we haven’t had many opportunities to work together, so when the chance came up to make a short film for Oakley I was stoked! I’ve made quite a few BMX films, it’s where I started my filmmaking career so it’s something I love doing! But I’ve grown tired of seeing the same music video style used to create the trick to trick edits you mostly see. I wanted to create something different and tell a story that really pulls you in. Oakley wanted a film that focused on Chase and living in Austin so The Delivery Men started brainstorming concepts. We decided on the idea of a journey, Chase’s journey through a day of riding. Starting with waking up, getting ready and then out the door to ride, pedaling around town and to different spots where he would session. The journey itself from spot to spot is sometimes the most fun, launching off different curbs, wall rides and every jib in-between. It’s the flow as you ride down the street, you feel free. This is the feeling we wanted to create, it’s about the journey, not the destination.
For our concept we needed to make a unique intro that would pull you right into the edit, we started storyboarding a super fast paced opening scene of Chase getting ready. Opening with a shot of Austin at sunrise then into his house, shooting tight detail shots in high-speed then speed ramping in and out when needed. The sound design was extremely important throughout the edit, but for the intro the sound designed created its own song so the pacing and cuts had to be perfect. I chose to shoot the opening scene all on tripod so that I could cut and splice footage together smoother, it also allowed for cleaner lines during shooting and better speed ramping effects.
For this project we shoot on a few different cameras. Our main camera was the Canon C100 because of its size (light weight) and great image. We had it mounted on the MOVI m10 which we shot with 80% of the time. The Canon C300 we used for tripod shots as well as in the intro sequence. This camera’s image is amazing but for the all day long run and gun work it’s a bit heavy. I set both the C100/C300’s picture profile to CLOG. We used the Sony FS700 w/ metabones speed booster that we rented from Lens Pro to GO for the high-speed shots, we filmed at 240fps in SLOG 2 and ramped the speed as needed in post. The shutter speed was set at 800-1500 to keep a crisp image with minimal motion blurring.. We mostly used the FS700 on the Glidecam 4000HD and had it constantly moving along with Chase, we did however use it on tripod for some the intro shots. We also used the DJI Phantom 1 W/ H3-2D gimbal with GoPro Hero 3+ for the aerial shots. With the GoPro we shot at 2.7k in 30p both in wide and medium. We were very selective about how and when we shot these. Aerial shots can look great but they need to be motivated. Each time we used an aerial was to move Chase into a new location.
For this film I wanted the camera to be continually moving, to feel as though you are right there with Chase as he’s riding down the road. We only filmed two static shots during the entire riding sequence and that was to accentuate a moment as he was stopped in the air and another time to show him flying by the camera at high speed. I wanted to stay away from fisheye and super wide angle lenses, I find them very un-cinematic and they are way overused in the sports world. I wanted to keep the camera view more inline the human eye’s perspective, (52mm) so we kept all our ground shots over 24mm but averaged around 50mm. We shot on Canon lenses — on the MOVI we used the Canon 17-55 lens (24-70 full frame equivalent), this gave us a zooming range to work with as we shot out of the car. For the C300 and FS700 we used Canon Primes from 24mm-200mm. To further enhance Chase’s style and smoothness we shot everything at 30p then conformed to 24p in post. This gave us a very subtle slowed down effect that made the cruising around footage look fluid and effortless. This also allowed us to shoot at a higher shutter speed and get a crisper image with no staccato effect (ala “Saving Private Ryan”).
To achieve the shots we had in mind I knew we need the right support gear as well as a way to shoot next to Chase at fast speeds. This is where the Freefly Cinema MOVI m10 came into play. We mounted the C100, Rode Video Mic Pro, Zacuto Relocator Grip and SmallHD AC7 OLED monitor all to the MOVI. The Zacuto Relocator Grip is awesome as it allows me to make aperture adjustments, record/stop, and set/lock focus while I’m operating the MOVI. This is huge for making adjustments on the fly when shooting. I also love the SmallHD AC7 OLED monitor — it’s bright and allows me really see what’s happening within my frame even in extremely sunny conditions. We rented a minivan that two sliding side doors as well as a rear door, this allowed me to shoot in pretty much any direction. The reason I chose the MOVI is that I knew it would maintain the horizon level in any condition, with wind, bumps etc. It’s also much smoother than a Glidecam and this allowed me to concentrate on composition and framing, I was directing Chase while shooting so the less I had to physically think about and adjust the better and this setup worked awesome! The only downside was if I was shooting too far outside of the van we would get a lot of wind noise through the mic, at 20-30mph there wasn’t a good way to avoid this without a separate sound guy. I knew it was going to be crucial to get some clean sounds of Chase riding that we could then match up in post so we shot a short foley session with chase to get the riding, jumping and landing sounds we needed. We did this on the C300 w/ Rode NTG 3 mic. I also did some shooting with the MOVI and Glidecam on a skateboard, the lower speed shots where I’m next to him or from behind are done this way. This isn’t for everyone as you need to be able to Skate… which I’m not the best at but i’m alright and this showed when I hit a huge crack in the sidewalk while filming and went down hard with the MOVI and C100.
Luckily the MOVI cage saved the camera…. The MOVI needed to be re-adjusted from the impact which I had to do that night after the shoot. But we got the line filmed with the Glidecam and C100 and called it a day.
I had scouted locations the week before and found the areas that I thought would best represent Austin, look good on camera and spots Chase would normally ride. 9th st. and House Park are Chase’s favorite spots to ride in town so I knew we needed to include these. Both of those sections would require sequencing lines that could be shoot on multiple angles and then matched up shot for shot in the edit. Another important part of creating this journey across town and from spot to spot was planning and keeping track of the direction Chase was riding into and out of frame. Hussain kept track of our shot list to make sure we were getting what we needed so the edit would cut together smoothly. The last thing you want to miss is a shot you really need.
We shot for two full days and had based our schedule on lighting. But as luck would have it, we ended up with cloudy weather and rain so we altered the schedule to work around the rain and filmed the indoor sections when we couldn’t shoot outside. Lucky it didn’t rain all day and we were able to go back out for round 2. We filmed an interview with Chase about riding BMX and, specifically, riding in Austin. Hussain and I then crafted the script for the VO (Voice Over) that we would record with Chase a few days after the shoot. It was important to give this story more then just a visual narrative, we wanted to create something that made you feel what it’s like to ride BMX.
With all the shooting done it was time to head into post production. We took all the 30p footage and conformed it to 24p via Cinema Tools, and then started our edit in Premiere CC which is our editor of choice. The search for music is always tough, but after half a day I found the perfect song from Marmoset Music called “Rising Out of The Sea” By More Like Georgia, the style was a great fit and it had multiple crescendos for laying in the VO. This is something I love about the Marmoset search engine, you can search by ARC. Having the crescendo a the right place is so, so important! I put the song into the time line and then laid out the VO to see how it would fit, adjusted the pacing and edited the song to fit. Next I found the last shot, the ending that would wrap up the story. Originally we had 10 other awesome riders and friends of Chase meet at the bridge for the last shot, but because of the high winds I wasn’t able to get the aerial shot I needed and the ground shot just didn’t look right with him and the group. So for an ending it fell flat. I had shot the other handful of shots of Chase riding alone in the sunset and that felt a lot better, I knew right when I filmed the shot that it was a great contender for the final scene. From here I edited the rough cut and the intro, made tweaks over the next 2 days until I had picture lock. The audio mix was the next big thing, I wanted the sounds of riding to have a big presence in the edit so there was a lot of EQ tweaking to dial everything in. I also needed to add in the foley sound for the sections where we didn’t have clean audio, as well the FS700 does not record audio when you shoot high-speed so all of those shots needed to have the audio replaced. It took a full day to get to edit and mix the audio.
With the everything looking great it was time for the color grade. I exported out an XML and opened up Davinci Resolve, this is by far my favorite tool for color grading. There is so much you can do and I love that. I played with a few different color palettes until I found what I was looking for, I wanted to have an image that had a bit of a blue/green tint and just the right amount of contrast. This took some time but once I had the look it was easy to apply the node and tweak per shot. I also used a quite a few masks and gradients to single out colors, skies, tree leaves etc. to make things pop a bit more. With grading done everything was looking awesome! I was super stoked on the way the project came out and to me that’s success. Being proud of what you’ve created.