Showing posts with label Filmmaking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Filmmaking. Show all posts

Video: This Amazing Video of a Viking Voyage is Made Entirely Out of Paper

The title of this post pretty much says it all. This incredible video tells the story of a wild Viking voyage, which is cool enough in and of itself. But, even more impressive is the fact that the entire clip is made from paper. You'll have to remind yourself of that throughout the short film, which is just a lot of fun from start to finish. Enjoy!

Nat Geo Lists 9 Oscar-Nominated Films to Inspire Adventure

If you're a movie buff like I am, you probably already know that the Academy Awards show takes place this weekend, with golden statues being handed out to the best actor, actress, director, film, and so on. While many of us will be tuning in on Sunday night to see who takes top honors (the odds favor La La Land), others will no doubt be wondering what all of the hoopla is about, and why I'm even talking about it on The Adventure Blog in the first place. Well, the truth is, great films can inspire us in many ways, including sending us off on amazing journeys and seeking real-life adventures of our own. As a kid, I longed to visit some of the far flung places that my favorite actors were traversing through on the big screen, and when I got older I've managed to see some of those locations myself. Now, as we prepare for the Oscars to be handed out this weekend, National Geographic has posted a list of nine films that have received Academy Award nominations that will inspire you to go on an adventure as well.

Some of the places that make the list don't seem particularly adventurous. For instance, the aforementioned La La Land takes place in Los Angeles, while Danzel Washington's Fences is set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Of course, those places still have a lot to offer visitors in terms of culture, history, food, drinks, and even outdoor attractions too. But, some of the other destinations on the list may feed your need for adventure better. For instance, the locations used for shooting the movie Arrival are found near Bozeman, Montana; one of my favorite places on the planet. Similarly, the critically acclaimed Hell or High Water takes place in West Texas, not far from the spectacular, but seldom visited, Big Bend National Park.

As usual with a list of this kind, I won't spoil all of the entires. Needless to say, they offer some interesting places to visit for those who like to travel. In some cases, watching the films alone will inspire you to want to go there. La La Land is lauded for being a visual love letter to LA for instance.

Every one of the films on Nat Geo's list are from this year's crop of Oscar contenders. But, it would also be fun to put together a similar list of classic films from the past as well. For instance, Lawrence of Arabia served as the inspiration for me to visit Jordan, while Raiders of the Lost Ark sparked an interest in Egypt as well. Seeing Rick wander the streets of Casablanca in the film of the same name will certainly lure fans of that movie to Morocco, while Out of Africa is a good way to convince anyone that going on safari might be a good idea.

What are the films that have inspired you to see various parts of the world? What movies have you intrigued about some place you haven't gone yet? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Cloud Walkers - A Documentary About Amputees Climbing Kilimanjaro – Seeks Funding

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is a bucket-list adventure for many people, and for good reason. The tallest mountain in Africa is both approachable and a great challenge, with many rewards along the way.

Recently, a team of climbers made up of amputees from San Antonio, Texas went to the mountain to try to scale it for themselves. Over the course of a year of training, and during their time on the mountain, they bonded as a group and found strength and inspiration from each other. The team made the trek to the Roof of Africa together and now their story is the subject of a new documentary called Cloud Walkers, which was filmed throughout their extraordinary journey.

But, if you know anything about filmmaking, you probably also know it takes funds to get a project off the ground and get the final product in the can so to speak. So, with that in mind, the filmmakers behind Cloud Walkers have launched an Indiegogo campaign to help make their project a reality. They hope to raise $50,000, which will mostly go to final editing, sound mixing, music licensing, and other expenses.

To get a sneak peek at what this documentary is all about, check out the video below. It gives us a taste of what this journey was about, as well as some of the amazing views and stories that were experienced along the way. To find out more, and contribute to the cause, visit the Cloud Walker's crowdfunding page.

Video: How to Make GoPro Footage Look Cinematic

I know there are a lot of Adventure Blog readers who own and use GoPro cameras to capture footage of their adventures. So when I came across this video, I thought that it was definitely worth sharing. It is a handy "how to" on ways to make the footage that you shoot look much more epic and cinematic. The GoPro cameras do a good job of shooting the action and the landscapes we visit, but there are some ways we can make those clips look a lot better. And even if you've been shooting on a GoPro for awhile, chances are you can pick up a tip or two from the video. I hope it helps!

Video: GoPro Invites Us to Meet the Karma Drone (Again!)

Yesterday was a big day for GoPro. That's because, after a three-month delay following a recall, it's much anticipated Karma drone has finally gone back on sale again. The Karma was unveiled last September, and then went on sale in October, only to be pulled from store shelves a few weeks later because of a design flaw that caused it to lose power mid-flight. That flaw has now been corrected, and the Karma is up and flying once again. In this video, we are reminded of what the Karma, when paired with a GoPro Hero 5 camera and the company's awesome new Karma Grip stabilizer are capable of. While it's true that GoPro has fallen on hard times a bit financially of late, their equipment is still top notch and easy to work with. Sure, this clip is essentially a commercial for that gear, but it is also an indication of what you can do with it when filming for your own projects.

Share Your Inspiring Outdoor Story with Outside TV, Win Big Prizes!

Do you have an inspiring story to share? Looking for a good outlet to do just that? The Climb to the Summit contest from Outside TV just might be what you're looking for. Not only does it give you a platform to tell your tale, you'll also get a chance to appear on the television network, not to mention some great prizes that include a trip to Whistler and a $5000 gear shopping spree.

Entry into the contest is easy and straight forward. Simply visit the Climb to the Summit website, fill out the entry form, and upload a video that is 30 seconds to two minutes in length, that tells your personal story. Then, share your entry on social media, getting your friends and family to vote for your short film. Those votes will count towards the final tally, which will also include a panel of judges who will score the entries based on creativity and storytelling.

The contest runs from June 22 to August 16, after which the winners will be chosen. The grand prize for the contest includes a 4 day/3 night VIP skiing experience in Whistler, British Columbia, as well as a $5000 shopping spree courtesy of Mountain Hardwear. That seems like something worth going for.

Find out more, and enter the contest, by clicking here. And checkout the video below for some insights. Good luck!

Video: Two Years of Travel in Two Minutes

This wonderful video was shot over two years using just a GoPro camera as filmmaker Harry Van Durme traveled to 12 different countries, capturing his adventures along the way. He's now distilled those two years of travel down to just two minutes, taking us along with him to some amazing places. If this doesn't inspire you to want to see the world, nothing will.

Travel - 2 years in 2 minutes from Harry Van Durme on Vimeo.

Adventure Tech: GoPro Delays Release of Karma Drone

It hasn't been a good year or so for GoPro. The action cam maker has seen a drop in sales, which is now hitting its bottomline in significant ways. Worse yet, one of the company's most anticipated new products – the Karma drone – has now been delayed.

Yesterday, GoPro announced its quarterly results, and to say that they were dire would be an understatement. The tech company saw its revenue drop by nearly 50%, and earnings plummeted from a $22 million profit for this quarter last year, to a $121 million loss this year. A major part of that swing was the company writing off older camera models that it discontinued.

But the news that is most disappointing fans of GoPro is the announcement that the release of the Karma has now been pushed back until the coming winter. It was originally expected to become available to consumers in the first half of 2016, but we'll now have to wait just a bit longer. And since winter doesn't technically start until December 21, it seems likely that the drone won't see the light of day until 2017.

In an effort to diversity its business, GoPro has been looking for other sources of revenue. The Karma is seen as one part of that plan, while investing heavily in virtual reality films is another. The camera maker has also revealed a special system designed to shoot 360º video in stunning 4k resolutions. But the current generation of VR is still in its infancy, and far from a sure bet, so it could be some time before these ventures start to turn around GoPro's fortunes.

Meanwhile, other companies continue to crank out new drones that are only becoming better and better. You have to wonder if the Karma will arrive a bit too late.

Video: The Making of the Expedition Alaska Documentary

Last year I was fortunate enough to be part of the team that put on the Expedition Alaska adventure race. It was 7-day long, 500+ mile (800+ km) race through the wilds of Alaska that tested competitors at every step of the way.

We were joined at the race by a team of very talented young filmmakers from the University of Cincinnati who were a part of a Master Class that came to Alaska to film the race while learning their craft under the supervision of professionals. That documentary is nearing completion, and the UC team released this video to give us an idea of the challenges they endured to capture essence of Expedition Alaska for viewers. In order to do so, they faced many of the same challenges that the racers did as well. Take a look at some of those challenges in the video below, which will give you a glimpse of what the race was all about, while also sharing what it takes to make an adventure film.

Adventure Tech: DJI Releases the Best Phantom Drone Yet

Adventure filmmakers just got an impressive new tool to help them create their masterpieces. Yesterday, DJI – the makers of the popular line of Phantom drones – released their latest UAV, and it is a dramatic step forward in technology and control.

The new Phantom 4 features an impressive set of upgrades designed to make it more intelligent and autonomous than ever before. DJI has equipped their latest product with a set of sensors and two onboard camera designed specifically to allow it to "see" the environment around it, and automatically avoid obstacles in its path. This will help keep the drone safer while inflight, and avoid causing damage to things around it, including people.

That obstacle avoidance system is just the tip of the iceberg however. The same technology that allows the Phantom 4 to plot its own course through an environment also allows it to track and following moving objects too. Using a touch screen controller such as a tablet, the pilot can simply tap on an object – including vehicles, people, animals, etc. – and the drone will lock on to it, and stay with it no matter where it goes. DJI says the Phantom 4 can travel at speeds up to 44 mph (72 km/h), so it won't be easy to outrun it either.

Another new feature is something called "TapFly." This allows the pilot to spot a location through the drone's camera on his or her screen, and then tap on that location to tell the UAV to fly to that point on its own. Using its obstacle avoidance system, the Phantom 4 will find its way to that destination completely on its own.


It should be noted that all of these independent actions are handled without using GPS. The drone is autonomous thanks to its onboard sensors, which is impressive to say the least. Even when it is following a moving object, it is doing so completely on its own. Other drones that follow often have to connect to another device that someone is wearing, but that isn't the case here.

DJI has made some other nice upgrades to the Phantom 4 as well. While the UAV looks like previous generations of the Phantom series, it has been subtly redesigned to make it more aerodynamic. The onboard battery has ben upgraded as well, extending flight time to 28 minutes despite all of the new features, and a heavier body.

All of this new technology and new features is good news for perspective filmmakers. At times in the past it would take two or three people to operate a drone, with one flying and another operating the camera. But since the Phantom 4 is more intelligent and autonomous, it frees up the pilot to do more things. For instance, when shooting a mountain biking video, it is now possible to tell the drone to follow the rider, which it will do completely on its own. This lets the person operating it to worry about capturing the best footage possible.

The DJI Phantom 4 is available for order now, and will begin shipping this month. Additionally, it'll also arrive on shelves at all Apple Stores starting on March 15. The new drone is priced at $1399, which is about $150 more than the Phantom 3 cost when it was first revealed. That drone has now dropped to about $1000, while the Phantom 4 becomes the new flagship model.

Check out more in the video below.


Video: More Footage of the GoPro Karma in Action

We still don't know a whole lot about the GoPro Karma, the company's first entry into the drone market. We know it's coming sometime in 2016, and while those working on the drone are being somewhat coy, they have hinted that it'll operate unlike the traditional drones that we're use to so far. We'll just have to wait for GoPro to reveal more information in time, but for now we have another test flight video that was released yesterday. It purportedly shows footage shot using the UAV as it captures snowboarder Bobby Brown and some friends on the slopes. As with the first preview video, the images look clear, clean, and very stable. I can't wait to find out more.

Video: The Making of Meru

Earlier this year, the acclaimed climbing film Meru was released, giving us an incredible look at two expeditions by Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and Renan Ozturk to climb the infamous Shark Fin on Mt. Meru in India, with the trio finally completing the first ascent of that massive rock wall in 2010. If you haven't had the chance to see this documentary yet, you should do so as soon as possible. It is simply amazing, with some of the best mountaineering and climbing footage you could ever hope for.

If you have seen the film, you probably have wondered how it was made. Obviously the three climbers, and in particular Jimmy, did most of the shooting, which was later compiled together to make Meru. But there was more to it than just that, as you'll see in this video which is part of the Nat Geo Live series.

In the clip, Chin and filmmaker Elizabeth "Chai" Vasarhelyi discuss how the film came into being, and the process it took to put it altogether. Truly fascinating stuff, particularly if you've seen the movie and want to know how it was made.

Nat Geo Picks the Best Adventure Films of 2015

2015 was a good year for adventure filmmakers. Over the course of the past 12 months we've seen some of the best outdoor and travel focused films ever, and thanks to a proliferation of excellent tools – such as low-cost, high-quality cameras and affordable drones – it looks like this trend of fantastic guerrilla filmmaking won't end anytime soon. With that in mind, National Geographic Adventure took a look back at the very best adventure films from the past year, and revealed their picks for the seven best.

The subjects of these films vary wildly, with some focusing on climbing and mountaineering, while others are all about exploration, skiing, dogsled racing, and even our complex relationships with our canine friends. Some of the short films that earned a spot on Nat Geo's list include A Line Across the Sky, which documented Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold's historic climb of the Fitz Traverse in Patagonia, as well as The Great Alone, which takes us into the Alaskan wilderness with Iditarod champ Lancey Makey, and Unbranded which features an epic journey across the U.S. with wild mustangs.

Of course, one of the most high profile adventure films of the year was Meru. This stunning mountaineering film follows Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and Renan Ozturk as they climb the Shark's Fin on Mt. Meru in India. This is one of the few movies of this type that actually had a theatrical run, which makes it stand out all the more. Check out the trailer below, and try to catch it on DVD or iTunes if you can.

I'm sure 2016 will bring even more interesting adventure films. I can't wait to see what is in store for us.

Video: The Year in Review with GoPro

It was another good year for GoPro. Not only did the company release a series of excellent new cameras, the footage that was captured on those devices continued to improve and become more refined. This video takes us on a 4+ minute look review of the year as seen through the lens of a GoPro camera, with some fantastic shots of some amazing places to remind us of all that took place in 2015.

Video: Racing Extinction - In Search of the Blue Whale

This short film serves as a prelude to Racing Extinction, a new show that is set to premiere on the Discovery Channel on December 2. It follows a group of filmmakers as they set out to capture the first footage ever of a massive blue whale swimming alongside a human being. Before they ever left on their quest, they were told over and over again that they wouldn't be able to achieve their goal, and while it wasn't easy, they did manage to find those elusive animals, and record some of the most amazing footage you'll ever see. The short documentary is about 16 minutes in length, but well worth a watch, as it is not only very well done from a creative standpoint, it also shares insights on how we can help save species that are now nearing extinction.

Video: Trailer for Mountaineering Film Citadel Mountain

Earlier this year, British climbers Matt Helliker and Jon Bracey traveled to Alaska to attempt the first ascent of a peak called The Citadel. This 1988 meter (6522 ft) mountain isn't large by Himalayan – or even Alaskan – standards, but it is in a very remote location where weather conditions are completely unpredictable and the climbing is highly technical.  Acclaimed filmmaker Alastair Lee went along with them to make a film about the expedition, which will be released on December 1. We'll have to wait until the full version is screened to know if they succeeded in their attempt, but judging from the trailer below it looks like it was one hell of a climb. The film looks absolutely stunning, and is reportedly the first mountaineer movie to be shot completely in 4K. After watching this clip, I definitely can't wait to see the final product.

Citadel Mountain Film Trailer from Posing Productions on Vimeo.

Do You Own a Drone? You'll Probably Have to Register it Soon

By now, most of us are familiar with the use of drones. Over the past few years they have become a staple in the adventure filmmaking industry, allowing both professionals and amateurs alike to capture fantastic footage that simply wasn't possible in the past. In recent months, the private use of drones has started to come under more scrutiny however, particularly as some drone owners have ignored safety and security concerns in order to fly their UAVs into areas that are off limits. Now, it seems the U.S. government is about to step in, as we received news yesterday that a new task force is exploring options for regulating drones moving forward.

This new task force falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The group has already begun discussing ways of improving the use of drones to make them safer, and to "build a culture of accountability" around their use, as DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx put it. "When they don't fly safely, they'll know there will be consequences," he added.

The hope is to have a new set of rules and regulations in place prior to the holiday season when thousands of drones are expected to be given as gifts. The DOT would like to see the vast majority of those drones be registered with the government, allowing officials to know who they belong to and how they are being used. Smaller drones that fall more into the category of toys would not be covered by the rules, but the larger, more sophisticated models such as the DJI Phantom and Inspire series would be subject to the new regulations.

Just how bad has it gotten in terms of the abuse of drone? According to the CNN article linked to above, there are more than 100 incidences a month in which drones are being used in an unsafe way, including flying too close to commercial aircraft and entering restricted zones.

Exactly what the registration process will look like remains unclear at the moment, but what is clear is that the task force wants to crack down on unsafe drone usage. Once the UAVs are registered, it will be easy to trace them back to their owner, who will face fines and other consequences if the small aircraft are used in unlawful ways. The registration would also be applied retroactively to existing drone owners, as well as for the estimated 700,000 - 1 million that expected to be purchased over the next few months.

Personally, I think this is a good idea. As much as I love drones and the technology behind them, a lot of people have been using them for unscrupulous purposes. Hopefully these regulations will help cut down on some of that activity in the future, while allowing legitimate drone owners to continue using them responsibly.

GoPro Wants to Pay You for Your Video

Between the GoPro action cameras and the proliferation of drones, adventure filmmaking has exploded over the past few years. It has gotten to the point that we now have affordable tools at our disposal that will allow us to make some exceptional films that simply weren't possible a few years ago. Now, GoPro is even willing to pay you for those efforts through a new program called GoPro Awards.

The company is asking the public to submit their best photos, edited videos, and raw footage shot with a GoPro camera. They'll then review each submission, and award cash and other promotional materials based on their favorites in each category. Those categories include action, adventure, sports, animals, travel, and more. GoPro isn't being stingy with the cash they're paying out either. The action cam company says that it will give out $5 million a year for the best videos, which it will of course share on its media channels.

This is a good opportunity not only for budding filmmakers, but for GoPro as well. It gives us a chance to get our videos showcased in front of a large audience, and make some cash off of it in the process, while simultaneously giving GoPro a showcase for what their cameras can do. It is a steady stream of content for them as well, although it is debatable whether or not the person submitting the video could actually make more money on YouTube. Still, the possibilities are definitely intriguing.

Find out more about the program on the GoPro Awards webpage, where there are already some videos being shared. Then grab your camera and head outside to record your latest adventure. Who know, it just might make you some quick cash.

Video: Autumn in Vermont by Drone

Want to know why filmmakers love drones so much? Then take a look at this short video which captures the spectacular fall colors of Vermont in a wonderful fashion. The clip begins with a drone pilot launching his personal aircraft, sending it high into the sky. As he does so, the camera onboard gives us an amazing view of the surrounding landscape, which is painted in a spectrum of colors for the season. A few years ago, this video would have cost thousands of dollars to make, simply because an arial shot like this one would be so expensive. Now, a drone gives even amateur filmmakers the tools they need to shoot this type of footage.

This is Vermont Foliage // DJI Inspire 1 Dronie from Matt Benedetto on Vimeo.

Krakauer Not a Fan of Everest Film

Everest may not have been a massive success at the box office, but it continues to generate headlines with the outdoor community. The latest story revolving the film has Jon Krakauer, author of the seminal book Into Thin Air, sharing his thoughts on the film, and lets just say he isn't a fan.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Krakauer says that the film is "total bull" and says that the film took some liberties with the story. The author was of course on Everest when the events depicted in the film took place back in 1996, and while his book was used a source material for the movie, it isn't based on that best selling account of the story. Instead, the film's producers consulted a number of people who were there – Krakauer wasn't among them – and based their telling of the tale off of a variety of different sources.

If you've seen the film you probably can understand why Krakauer isn't exactly lining up to endorse it. In one scene, Russian guide Anatoli Boukreev asks Krakauer – played by actor Michael Kelly – to help him go back out to search for missing climbers caught in a storm. In the movie, Krakauer says he can't do that because he is suffering from snow blindness. The writer says that the scene isn't only not factual, it never even happened.

In a later scene, Krakauer is heard to say that it will be tough enough for the climbers to descend the mountain on their own, let alone helping others get down safely. As a result of these two moments in the movie, he comes across as being someone who doesn't want to lend a hand during the aftermath of the disaster, and only cares about his own well being.

It should come as no surprise that Krakauer says that if we want a true account of what happened during the 1996 climbing season we should read his book instead, even though it isn't without its controversies as well. Still, it is widely considered to be one of the best accounts of the disaster, and as with all book vs. film comparisons it has the luxury of going into greater detail on the characters and events.