Wednesday Nov 04, 2015

Behind the scenes of the unReal Brandon Semenuk one-shot

It took them an entire month to prepare the shoot with at least three weeks of moving dirt. To make sure all that hard work didn’t go to waste, the crew had to work together in perfect harmony for 2 minutes and 13 seconds.

They had one shot at getting the One Shot. Here’s how they did it.

Get yourself to the European Outdoor Film Tour this season to see more from the incredible MTB movie, unReal. Tickets here.

Darcy Wittenburg, Driver & Director

Q. What were you thinking during the shoot?

“I concentrated entirely on the markers the pick-up needed to reach by a certain point during the One Shot. All I could think about was the exact speed and reaching the next marker in time.

“Near the end I was getting more and more nervous because the consequences of one of us making a mistake became more serious the closer we got to the end of the run.

Q. What was your biggest fear during the One Shot?

“Most of the time our biggest fears are about things that we can’t control ourselves. Number one: I was scared that Brandon would get hurt.

The consequences of one of us making a mistake became more serious the closer we got to the end.

“But what was also important was everything that could have ruined the shoot: wind, rain, problems with the power supply of the GSS system or a mistake during filming like severe camera shaking.”

Q. What’s your greatest fantasy when it comes to mountain biking?

“I can’t tell you because it will probably be an idea for my next mountain bike film!”


Brian Wulf, Cinematographer

Q. What was the challenge for you?

“The film crew had to be as good as Semenuk’s bike performance. We had to work as perfectly as possible to keep up with his level of skills. Of course these are two different disciplines but if we’re combining them we can reach a new level.”


Darren McCullough, Camera Assistant & Focus Puller

Q. How does it feel to be on a shoot like this?

“Even with all the tools and planning in place this is still something we’ve never done before. Everyone feels the pressure.”

Perfect: The crew managed to get the shot down on the first take

The Cinematic Challenge - One Shot

The ONE SHOT was filmed as a single shot. That means that the camera followed the mountain biker for 2 minutes and 13 seconds—without any cuts. And what’s really hard to believe is that they got the shot in just one take!

Preparations

The crew shovelled, dug and smoothed Brandon Semenuk’s trail, which wound its way picturesquely down the lush, green hills of California. The team levelled an extra track running parallel to the bike trail for the camera, which was attached to the bed of a pick-up truck.

The film crew had to be as good as Semenuk’s bike performance. We had to work as perfectly as possible to keep up with his level of skills.

Camera

A GSS C520 camera system, which was originally developed for aerial shots, was used for the shoot. The camera was powered by a 2-litre gas generator set up on the bed of the pick-up.

Camera Work

It wasn’t easy for cameraman Brian Wulf, who used a monitor to control the camera from the back seat of the truck, to keep Brandon in the frame during his high-speed downhill ride. Maximum concentration was also required of his assistant and focus puller, Darren McCullough, who had to make sure the picture was in focus.

Timing

Coordinator Colin Jones kept an eye on Brandon Semenuk’s position on the trail from the passenger seat of the camera pick-up and gave precise instructions about when the driver—director Darcy Wittenburg— should speed up or slow down to keep crew and mountain biker in perfect sync.

Flow: Semenuk is flawless for the full run as is the camera work to secure the one-shot clip

Channels: Extreme.com, Mountain Bike, Outdoor

Comments

Related Content