So it's been a pretty flat out 12months since we were lucky enough to start filming series 2 of Amazon Originals 'The Grand Tour'. Starting in Dubai in Dec 2016 we have travelled across the world filming sequences with the 3 presenters for this series. The workhorse of the show is the DJI Inspire 2 with X5S Camera. On each trip 2 complete rigs travel with us to location due to the tight timescale in filming there isn't any chance to wait for another craft if there are issues. The show is also unbelievably tough on equipment as the road trips involve all kit to be easily accessible for almost instant action. With this in mind the 2 kits are often rotated for use shoot on shoot to avoid excessive wear to just one airframe.
During the Mozambique film which will be seen later in the series the brand new kit (at that time) was subjected to dust, salt spray mud & blazing hot temperatures for 10days. The first long term test of the kit proved it could keep up with the pace of the show and dual battery system gave us more confidence to push it hard even in the hot climate.
The ability to shoot ProRes also took the stress off the DIT guys who were constantly battling time to press the RAW files delivered by the earlier X5R model which was used in series 1. The 4444xq setting was used to give the highest quality image that was still wrapped in a .mov file for quick playback.
Aside from the technical improvements of the craft we in general had a blast filming this series.
Taking the kit up to 12,500ft in Colorado certainly showed that the high altitude props were a necessary investment & even in the 10-15mph wind at the summit the craft behaved perfectly, even if all the humans were struggling!
Fast forwarding through the months each shoot posed it's own challenges & the main one now is permissions in different countries. All operators are aware of the difference in permissions needed but the process in each country is becoming more and more difficult as that countries air authority becomes swamped with its own operators and requests. Luckily with a heavy duty name such as the Grand Tour and some brilliant producers working behind the scenes they have secured permissions in over 10 countries during this series alone.
The shows directors also massively rely on the drone for the shots needed in the films as last minutes changes always require that 'wide shot' of the scene or a quick tracking shot to show the vehicle in it's surroundings.
Working as a split role between drone and onboard cameras certainly keeps us on our toes & as which we can honestly tell you some of the best underground car parks to be in around the world as we don't often get the chance to see much else on location due to workload of the impressive 4k 10bit kits supplied by Creokinetics.
As we wrap up series 2 studio shoots the new X7 camera has been added to system which is something that is going to add a new layer of gloss to the upcoming shoots in early 2017. The combination of a S35 sensor and brand new DJI glass means added low light capabilities and an even higher 6k resolution available.
Alongside TGT shoots we have also been keen to keep other clients happy and have also filmed the new series of SAS who dares wins for Channel 4 which is due out in early 2017. We got to shoot some incredible air to air with an old huey in a location that looks seriously impressive & choreographed moves meant that safety was always kept as the highest priority.
Another great project of the year was working on the Matt Jones "Frames of Mind" film by Cut Media.
The ambitious vision of the project was to morph real time footage with still frames which weren't actually still. As Mat rides through sections he picks himself up along the way. The impressive nature of the location & talent of the film & post production meant it was a very successful film that got people talking about the technicalities in filming such a complicated vision. Using the FF Alta we mounted Sony FS5 with Ziess Super speed lenes. The project required contact slow motion capture so the output was recoded by a Atomos Shogun inferno which meant that 240fps was achievable which was enough to pull slow motion action from. Couple this with a location dense in the forest it took all of the flying expertise to weave the fully laden craft along it's path and to a safe stop before the final jump. The vertical down shots again were completed using the same setup but with inches to spare before the canopy cover, using the FF allowed fine controls over the height which made life alot easier.
Lec Park Ltd would like to thank all of the productions & companies that have used us throughout 2017 We wish everyone a happy Christmas & exciting new year.