Every now and then some really cool opportunities arise in the business of camera-guying. This year I joined the extreme-sports circus that is the Freeride World Tour. For two of the European stops (Fieberbrunn AUT, Verbier CH,) on the program I was to point a camera at some of the gnarliest modern athletes, bent on hurling themselves down very large mountain faces. Suffice to say; I was happy to be nestled safely behind the lens rather than performing countless tomahawks over rocks and avalanche debris… like some of the riders. While shooting big-mountain sports like this has it’s challenges, mine is really a much safer job in comparison. Check out some of the action here: FWT YouTube
My first challenge was to obtain a comprehensive light-weight, alpine, backpack that would allow me to hike/ride a decent gradient while carrying everything I needed. I would have to say that with a back-country pack; you can never have too many straps and clips. You really need to be able to put everything on your bag besides your camera gear ie. snowboard, avalanche safety gear, harness, ice axe, rope, crampons.. and be prepared for anything (depending on what you’re shooting of course). A large ICU cavity in the bag helps to keep your camera as built up as possible allowing you to pull it out quickly to get a shot.
Yep, barely awake at this time of morning.
Other apparent challenges were coverage and data management. When the sun pokes it’s head you just want to shoot the shit out of everything, but there is still an entire event to cover, so enough having media storage is crucial. With this particular Live/Outside Broadcast event I needed to record to media as well as output a live feed, so managing your time around delivering cards to the editors can be tricky. Everyone is incredibly busy, no one can really help so you have to prioritise and find the time to dart up to post-production as often as possible. Another obstacle on the live operating side is; being tethered by optical cable (BNC) to HQ while you’re hand-held. It helps to have a little movement pattern and a rhythm to match before things get underway. The best thing you can do is stay out of everyone else’s shot and discuss your movement with the other Camera Ops before-hand. One last, but sort of important point is protecting you camera from helicopter ‘rotor wash’. This stuff is fun to shoot at high frame rates but maybe have a plastic cover handy as well as an optical flat/protective filter on you lens.
So there you have it, not as extreme or incredibly insightful as the title sounds, but being amongst that sort of atmosphere in such an epic environment can give you a certain tingle in the proverbial nut-sack sometimes.