Production Rolls Westward
Making the Master PPG series is a roller coaster but we're enjoying
If you're only gonna make $5/hr at the job you better enjoy it. And
enjoy we did.
This production is a labor of love, to be sure, and
strangely, I'm finding that I enjoy the process as much as the flying.
It's far, far different from being on the other side of the camera and I
have Phil Russman to thank for having some idea of what's needed. Not
that I'll ever rise to his level, but the final product will be a lot
better as a result of what I've learned from him.
Dru Stuebing of San Antonio was kind enough to host Tim and I for a
stop on the Enterprise's westward tour. He's got a great little slice of
life nestled along a river bend that's scenic enough to be used for
weddings. In fact, that's what they do there. Handy that the launch is
about 200 feet away.
1) Tim ran the camera on a tripod for several shots.
2) Dru getting
ready to re-launch from an adjoining field after landing to make a motor
3) Dru flying eastward with his ranch in the background.
Taping Master PPG has become
my big focus and so, besides just visiting and flying with Dru, we got some
required shots. A lot of effort is merely
trying to get clear angles on technique execution to make it obvious.
Getting multiple angles, especially point of view shots and closeups on
one side, will allow cutting back and forth during the editing
Unfortunately, an entire scene can be recorded only to find that it
doesn't "work". Sometimes, creative editing can rescue it but other
times it just needs to be reshot. We had a couple of those. Oh well, try
again. One cool aspect is that I can frequently edit together my desired
outcome that evening (usually while rolling down the highway) to see how
it flows together.
The winds and turbulence didn't cooperate very well here but we did
get some useful material, probably about a minute's worth at most. Given
that these videos are for advanced techniques, the turbulent conditions
worked in our favor. There is no better way to show, in detail, how to
actively fly than to capture it smoothly and close up in conditions
where it's really required.
Wow. This was one of our most productive sessions to date for videos
2, 3 and 4. From the wide open expanse of McCartney field (a local
Phoenix flying haunt) we crossed off a bunch of shots from the list of
those required, especially for wheels. These will enable us to show
concepts clearly, even more so with added graphics.
See series updates here.
first afternoon, Adam Bell turned out to be an exquisite target for
helmet cam shooting, able to execute demanding flying tasks in
predictable fashion. I was able to stay close and pick my angle. Being
able to communicate was critical to our success. Some of the work was to
show maneuvers, how they're flown and exactly what input is required to
make them work. I need predictable, sometimes steep but mostly smooth,
precise, flying for this. Wild doesn't work. Adam was just the ticket
and did yeoman duty. This footage, shown at various speeds and sometimes
with overlaid graphics, will help tell the story we're looking tell.
Others contributed, too. Tim Kaiser pulled a perfect light wind
reverse, captured with a steadicam that shows the detailed hand, body
and wing movements necessary for pulling it off. Ennis Zamji and Eric
Brown also contributed to some of the requisite helmet cam shots. Some
of the planned scenes didn't work out but we're going to work on those
next week when Phoenix round two shooting commences again.
next morning dawned cloudy and smooth. Mo Sheldon emerged from his
little cot tent cold and coffeeless but eventually became operational in
time to do some trike flying. We had a camera mounted on the trike and
used his van to shoot out the back, then the side using a steadicam.
Those shots earned a "wow." It was a nice piece of flying, driving and
filming with Mo doing everything, including the requested mistakes,
perfectly. On one flight he did different than I asked but the results
were even better. Mostly it involved capturing the nuance of wing
control while inflating and taxiing both into the wind and crosswind.
The footage came out great.
I didn't even do any flying this morning but rather concentrated on
making sure I got what I needed. In fact, the only time I did spend in
his trike was driving it around with the steadicam getting point-of-view
We had a lot of fun, too. Gotta be since this obviously won't be a
blockbuster. It's not a beginner series so it'll have even less mass
appleal in our massless little sport. But it's something I'm passionate
about. We all are. Everybody who has contributed to this thing, and
those who will in the coming months are passionate about the sport.
Their help is immensely valuable and I appreciate it. I think all the
eventual viewers will appreciate it.
It was a great time among quality people.