New technology has touched just about every part of skiing, from evolving gear and outerwear used on the snow, to the way athletes train, and how filmmakers capture the skiers and snowboarders. This season, Warren Miller Entertainment made the decision to employ the relatively new Phantom Flex camera technology to capture on-snow action in new ways and bring a new look to next year’s WME feature film.
The WME crew used the Phantom at this winter’s shoot at the Canyons, in Park City. According to Josh Haskins, the producer of the film, the crew was very excited to be able to add this kind of cinematography to the movie. WME was “thrilled to be using this camera, and embracing cutting edge technology in general. It is an exciting time in the digital world; camera technology changes so quickly, it's incredible what is available compared to just a couple years ago,” said Haskins.
The Phantom Flex allows forensics level slow motion in HD. The WME crew used the camera at 1000-2000 frames per second during the Canyons shoot. Real time action is captured in 24 frames per second, to give a little perspective on the capability of the camera.
“Everyone has probably seen a gun fire or a water balloon pop at this frame rate, but skiing is entirely different,” explained Haskins. For most ski movie aficionados the effect will be a new type of imagery. “Watching snow peel away and engulf the skier at an extremely slow rate of speed creates an amazing visual effect. The images appear to be frozen in time, with an almost 3D quality to them,” he said.
Since the entire camera package used during the Canyons shoot runs about a quarter million dollars to purchase, the equipment used was rented for the duration. According to Haskins, the images it creates are worth the expense, but with the rate of change in the world of digital imagery, not being locked into a system is also a nice option to have available.
The crew needed the experience of camera assistant Logan Schneider and Director of Photography Chris Patterson to make the Phantom shoot flow smoothly. The footage from each shot has to be downloaded to an attached cinemag before the next shot can be taken. The time spent on the process, however, will be worth it, according to the crew.
The athletes were also excited to be a part of the new imagery, taking the extra delays in stride. “Blake Nyman, Kaylin Richardson, Julian Carr and Keely Kelleher were amazing to work with. They hit their mark every time, which is super important with a camera like this, and were patient with the lengthy camera set up time,” said Haskins. The new visual effect will be a part of next year’s film.