August 3, 2015

This 4 Minute Long Take of a Mountain Bike Run is As Cinematic As It Gets

The long take may be widely associated with cinema and television, but it's pretty damn cool in an action sports context as well.

In a segment from the recently released mountain biking/adventure film unReal, biker Brandon Semenuk tackled a custom-built trail in Cambria, California while a pickup truck fitted with a GSS C520 gyroscopic stabilization system and RED EPIC captured the entire 4-minute run in a single glorious take. Since Brandon had an injured wrist, he was only able to do this once, which makes it all that much more impressive for everyone involved. Check out the video below:

And here's the BTS video, which gives a bit of background on how long it took to plan and execute this single shot:

Here's more from Vice Sports on how they did it:

The TGR and Anthill crew spent a week on location to get the shot. There was only one cameraman, TGR's Brian Wulf, and a single camera, a Red Epic. Darren McCullough operated the focus for the camera, while Collin Jones called out the vehicle pacing to Wittneburg, who was the driver. All four people acted as a single unit. A custom-built rack in the bed of a Toyota Tundra pickup held the camera mount, which was originally designed for aircraft: the GSS C520, a gimbal-stabilized camera housing that famously provided the ultra-smooth footage in Planet Earth. A Honda generator strapped in the bed of the truck powered the camera, and Wulf filmed through a monitor while sitting in the backseat.

Personally, my favorite aspect of this shot is the the way it incorporates zooming in and out to different focal lengths throughout the run. Because of this, the spatial compression and depth of field changes from moment to moment, which makes the various segments of the shot feel completely unique from one another. The fact that much of it was shot at such a long focal length is also a testament to the skill of camera operator Brian Wulf and focus puller Darren McCullough. Long lenses are not at all conducive to complex camera moves on rough terrain, but these guys absolutely nailed it, and the final result is well worth the time and effort put in to make this happen.

If you're interested in checking out the other segments in unReal, head over to Amazon where you can either rent or buy the film.     

Your Comment

8 Comments

I was close to tears watching that when it first came out. There was just something so sort of spiritual in the freedom of the ride, the like for that 4 minutes it was just a man and his bike and the trail in front of him.

August 3, 2015 at 8:27AM

0
Reply
avatar
Isaac Elliott
Director/Cinematographer
282

Any one able to identify the old stills camera he was using?

C'mon, who's the biggest geek here?

August 3, 2015 at 9:43AM

3
Reply
avatar
Karel Bata
Director / DP / Stereographer
510

Olympus OM-2 With a 50mm 1.8 i think

August 3, 2015 at 12:49PM

3
Reply
avatar
Jørgen Myhr Stokke
Cinematographer
74

Kudos to these guys for pulling this off!

In the BTS video, you can you see the camera/gyro unit being jostled around a bit but, the footage looks pretty smooth.

Did the gyro, itself, do ALL of the stabilization or was some of it done in post?

August 3, 2015 at 1:43PM, Edited August 3, 1:43PM

0
Reply
Richard Krall
richardkrall.com
1669

The camera that is filming the Gyro is fixed to the car, which is probably jumping around like crazy on the bumpy road, thus it looks like the car is still and it's the GYRo that is jumping around like crazy. In reality the GYRO just stabilises and levels out the car's bumpyness and ends up filming everything super smooth. But since the camera which films the GYRO is attached to the car, it looks like the GYRo is really bumpy.

That being said, there is probably some stabilising done in post as well. They probably filmed it in 4K and had a lot og wiggle room for stabilization and even post-reframing (which I think I saw a couple of times in the finished shot)

All in all, a very well made video.

August 4, 2015 at 5:00AM

0
Reply

Man, that was awesome. Also coupled with the most unexpected, yet best fitting song.

August 3, 2015 at 5:02PM

0
Reply

I watched it before scrolling down and thought, Holy crap they're getting good with drones. Now that I see how it was actually done, it's even more impressive.

August 3, 2015 at 7:39PM, Edited August 3, 7:39PM

2
Reply

I really have less than no interest in bike, skate and surf films but I thought this was really elegant and beautiful.

August 4, 2015 at 2:07PM

5
Reply
Ianmac
95