Taking a Chance
Taking a chance and going out on a limb to try something new takes a leap of faith. When Stellar Media came to us proposing a video campaign that incorporated a hyperlapse style of shooting, we were intrigued yet nervous to try something out of our box. After a bit of coaxing and the previewing of several example videos, we decided to give it a go. The result was a highly engaging series of content for our summer campaign. We decided to keep the momentum rolling and had these guys produce a winter version of this hyperlapse video. We were once again left smiling with their work.
What most people viewing this short films don’t see is the amount of planning, shooting and editing that goes in to something so quick. We wanted to sit down with Stellar to have them tell the story of this hypervisual endeavor. If you haven’t seen the winter hyperlapse video project that we rolled out with Stellar, we suggest you take 4 minutes to dive in to what we’re about to dive in to.
Tell us about the hyperlapse approach.
When Visit Sun Valley green-lit the continuation of the Summer Hyperlapse project, we knew we had our hands full trying to create an equally stunning and engaging winter piece. With the amount of positive feedback which we received from travelers and locals alike, we had no choice but to go for it!
(left to right: Yancy Caldwell, Spencer Cordovano, Wyatt Caldwell & Chase Cleveland)
The reason we are so attracted to the hyper-visual style of filmmaking is that it allows us to showcase the vast amount of recreational opportunities, cultural experiences, nightlife, and natural beauty all within a short amount of time, which is very strategic for the online social media marketplace to attract viewers. This style also blends well with the vast landscape found here in Ketchum, Idaho where one can whisk across town off for a hike and then into an art gallery.
When one thinks of a winter in Sun Valley, they think of our exceptional, evenly pitched, three-and-a-half thousand feet of vertical drop ski resort, however the array and amount of other experiences here are bountiful and organic. There is no doubt your vacation to Sun Valley will be packed with activities that enlighten the mind, body, and soul from sun up to sundown and beyond.
What goes in to making a hyperlapse video in the winter?
In order to apply the same style of hyperlapse capture we used in the summer series, we would need to tweak our techniques a little bit due to weather, and temperature. When shooting a hyper lapse with a model, coordination of production must be very technical, literally one footstep by one footstep. We were worried the sheer amount of time it takes to capture may cost one of our models a frozen finger or toe. This combined with the fact that snowing would basically ruin any hyper lapse, we were forced to reinvent!
The first item of reinvention was an idea with which we became fascinated with during our summer production; a light to dark or dark to light time lapse. We love watching the change of season and equally the change of hours throughout the day in our snowy little town of Ketchum. We were able to capture the awakening of a day or provide an alpine view to watch the sunset be overtaken by a night under the stars while the town of Ketchum kicks on its lights. This ended up costing the production crew quite a few shivers but this was our chance to properly produce some quality content while portraying what we love about our town. While guests of SV enjoyed a dinner at the roundhouse abreast a burning log fire, we stood on the porch adjusting our cameras bit by bit for a period of four hours.
In addition to watching the weather for good sunset predictability, and timing moon rises, we had a slew of events to cover. They included everything from a child’s first ski race on dollar, open air painting in nature, to cross country ski races at the base of Galena Pass, lest not forget the fun times Pond Skimming and Gelande Quaffing. Large movements of people gathering for theses events produced good time lapse opportunities that depict the scene in a more fascinating manner than standard video.
There’s a deeper story to this project here. Can you dig a little deeper for us?
Ketchum is the type of place where curiosity gets one to the top of a mountain, to look out and become curious about a mountain across the valley. You might take the dog for a walk out a canyon near home and then take a twenty-minute drive up the highway to snowshoe atop ridges blessed with views of the Sawtooth Valley.
Using aerial hyperlapses, a technique that now comes on auto pilot with the purchase of the latest equipment, we would illustrate the feeling of a fast drive toward the northern mountains or a rollercoaster-esque lift off the valley floor revealing town hundreds of feet below.
Next, we had to figure out how to interweave the personal element which can be lost in this type of capture. We choose to capture people doing their crafts and in moments of excitement to supplement the hyper visual imagery. The moments we captured were simply a friendly smile in the start line of the years most prestigious cross country race or the humble grimace of a wet kid that didn’t make it all the way across the pond skim…
These moments are all over the town and can be experienced by all whether it be an intent onlooker hearing an artist’s tale on creating a piece or the tranquility of hands above an outside fire while out for a drink. It’s the reason everyone comes to visit, the experience of being above the clouds and a quick gondola ride back to town puts a wild spirit into us all.
While one is out and about watching a ski race or gripping the edge of their seat sledding down penny hill the people you meet have the same passion for the mountain culture, recreation and family escape found here. The people that live here are amongst some of the most creative, athletic, and intelligent forward thinkers. Brushing shoulders with a simple jack in Sun Valley can be much more than kind person who greets all. Woven into our town are lovers of the arts, athletes of the Olympic level, and business men of the city ranks, all looking for the trill of a ski bum.
What We’re Made Of here in Ketchum is the bread and butter of that stew, and we wanted to include shots of peoples faces to slow it down for a second and let the viewer see the actual people, the restaurant owners, the kids, the people behind all the crazy movement and activities, and show the experience of being in that place at that moment. The people we choose to focus on are really the people who we consider to be essential movers and shakers, the “Makers” if you will. People that really make this community so special and provide and special service or play an important role in the success and diversity of our town.
You’ve been all over the world telling stories, what was it like having the opportunity to tell the story of your hometown?
We have done an extensive amount of tourism work all over the globe and it becomes more apparent every time we travel to big cities or other resort towns how special Ketchum really is. Most other trips around the world you shoot what you can in the small time window your visiting and hope for opportune weather. This project allowed us creative control to shoot when best weather, snow conditions, and townspeople gatherings aligned. We were able to showcase the best scenic overlooks, mountain tops, shred lines, local fishing and watering holes we felt best represented the fabric of what we are made of.
The close recreation opportunities, the culture, the nightlife, and the secret spots and people that make up this town are unlike anything we’ve experienced in other places. The options for multi-sport activities in one day is huge asset of Sun Valley. We wanted to capture this. You can ski in the morning, x-county or on the hill, and hike to a yurt later that night or go out for a gallery walk. The options are endless!
What was special about this project?
The main thing we favored about this project was the creative freedom to seek out the best locations, moments, and people in the Wood River Valley. Growing up here and continuing to be based here in Ketchum is strategic to be able to pick and choose the best shoot days. When’s it grey bird we’re in the office editing, when it’s blue bird we are out shooting! If the sunset looks like it’s about to go off, we head out, and if not we are home for dinner on time!
For this style shooting its nice to know we may have a second attempt at a specific shot, or a sequence of many photos. We know it’s going to contribute to a larger project but it can be spread over many days and nights. Sometimes it’s less stressful to go out and shoot in increments rather than dawn till dusk for a short period of time. We were honored that Visit Sun Valley collaborated with us to identify the local craftspeople and innovators that could speak to the fabric that makes the Sun Valley community unique.
What does it take to distill this all down?
We ended up capturing a behemoth amount of media! We shot the highest quality 8k cameras, thousands of raw photos and various multi-minute drone flights. We shot time lapses of snow stacking up on skis, portraits of unique people, hyper lapses across the top of baldy, hyper lapses through town at night, and the list goes on. There was no shortage of media or adequate processing just to see the shot. Often we would head out and spend 2-3 hours shooting in hopes of converting to a a 3-5 second video clip.
The problem that we frequently were faced with involved something shaking, twitching, or jittering, which would cause this all to be a loss. It wasn’t until we spent an hour or two back at the computer editing we weren’t quite sure what we had. If a shot didn’t work we would often have to go back to try again, or it would just hit the editing room floor.
Distilling down the best days and the best shots started there at square one. We also had to be available and flexible to capture the area in the best light, and of course with the freshest snow. It’s really a labor of love because the factors that go into a single shot or a sequence of a scene is quite humbling. So once all the snow had melted and winter powder hounds had switch modes and headed to raft the run off, we had some hours of computer time cut out for us.
It’s always better to overshoot when we going for the super fast and varied style of quick cuts and hyper visual flow. It’s all a massive process that requires post processing all the hyper lapse and time lapse down to see what works best and pairing those shots with the other video assets from the same activity or location.
We had adequately captured a multitude of events, people and activities, but now had to blend them together. We were out to produce a 4-minute long form cut that features everything Ketchum has to offer, four 30-second cuts and a variety of shapes and sizes for YouTube ads, Facebook ads, Instagram ads and other placements.
The 4-minute clip was the easiest part, because we didn’t have to choose what shots would hit the editing room floor, and were able to drag out some epic ones to the tune of 10 seconds, which is the total running length for certain short cut downs!
The most challenging part was biting the hand that feeds, so to speak. The online web viewer is our main target, and the marketplace is fast and flashy. While this was the reason hyper lapse was showing great engagement, it also made it hard to produce clean edits up to par we are going for.
In order to switch between scenes seamlessly using match frame editing techniques, one must be able to use similar frames and colors, which proved to be the trickiest part of the short web cuts-downs. We needed to satisfy the shooting and editing style while also touching on the proper activities for the proper demographic and placement of the cut. All of the scenes were shot to lead to the hyper-visual flow of whisking about town having a multitude of experiences, but we had a hell of a time making that happen!
What the Future Might Hold
The future holds more exciting video techniques that will whisk and whist the viewer farther into immersion and out to Sun Valley for a quick vacation! We are uncovering more techniques and equipment that can be used to not only make flashy videos, but technology that can more adequately portray the experience, feeling of immersion, and even altitude of our town.
Using hyper style imagery, we will continue to delve into the “makers” and find out why they are staples of their craft, why they form their lives and business around the cultural opportunities, recreational activities, and family options available in the Wood River Valley. We would like to focus on these “Makers” we have uncovered and shoot some short stories on them and the crafts or services. There is a very unique way of telling their stories and bringing the viewer into their world through the hyper visual style that we would like to continue to incorporate.
Viewers can expect more visual hype edits that show the pace and feeling of a few days spent in this winter wonder land and meet the people behind the events, activities, and lifestyle.