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In DitoGear™ Spotlight #13 we are sharing an outstanding project by Maciej Tomków. Making of Warsaw Halla emphasizes a unique combination of blading and steadicam work.
And what’s your latest project? Share your interesting stories in the next spotlight.
Maciej had trained wrestling for a few months but quit after losing a few fights. Afterwards he decided to join the acrobatic sports section and has been training for over 10 years.
The rollerblading became his passion from a moment when he received the first rollerblades from his parents at age of 12 years.
What Maciej enjoys the most is the atmosphere in the rollerblading world, where he meets good friends and great people.
Natalia Brząkała: When did you come up with the idea to create Warsaw Halla short film?
Maciej Tomków: For over a year I thought about making such film and this summer I decided to make this happen. I was really juiced to capture the blading with the camera that perfectly fits my needs – resolution, image quality, dynamic range, colors, slow-motion – few of reasons why I picked up RED for Warsaw Halla. When I spoke with riders about the project, everyone got excited. We all had a lot of fun making this film and it was a great experience for us.
NB: There are many rollerblading videos available on websites. Could you please let us know how this project stands out from others of similar kind?
MT: I’m watching a lot of rollerblading videos with professional bladers and great tricks but rarely they are well shot and put together. For me it’s not only trick after trick, I have my own vision to show what is rollerblading. So I approached this differently. Besides I invited best riders from Poland, I put on the quality of visual side.
NB: Have you encountered any difficulties during the production?
MT: We couldn’t omit the fact, that the police had a direct influence on our production. For the first time we’ve met the safety guards, counting on recording the shots on the benches in front of the bank entrance. We’ve met a very harsh headmistress who sent us to the police office together with our RED SSD card. Despite the ardent willingness to read our memory, the police didn’t have a proper equipment so they had to let us free
NB: What shooting techniques did you apply to make the piece more interesting?
MT: I knew I would be using a lot of slow motion to interest the viewer so I mostly shot in 5K 120 FPS, for a few shots I used 2K 300 FPS. One of the special techniques I used was combination of rollerskates and steadicam. With skating I could make a very long and dynamic shot plus slowing down the footage in post-production gave me really nice camera movement. It’s really unique technique that gives such amazing results.
At the beginning it was not easy to skate with this camera setup. In addition to the extra pounds, a vest and arm were terribly limiting my movements, so I needed some time to get used to it and be able to move freely. It cost me even more energy than the guys doing tricks. It was really tiring, but rewarding.
NB: What role played the DitoGear™ equipment in your production?
I had at my disposal the DitoGear™ OmniSlider Servo 2m and DitoGear™ OmniHead. Until this production I had been using the DitoGear™ devices mostly for time-lapse shooting with satisfactory results. I’m really happy I had a chance to film with RED Epic and DitoGear™, that also has a Motion Recording & Motion Playback function. It enables to record a motion with defined speed, saving a path and playing it back, what perfectly works out with real-time shooting and high-speed motion shooting. I think the equipment was ideal for motion control shots, they were precise and smooth.
NB: Could you describe the biggest failure during the production and what lessons you can share with us?
MT: Coming back to timelapses… In Warsaw Halla I used timelapse to capture the sunrise going above the city. I found a good location, on the 35th floor in one of the Warsaw skyscrapers. Working at this kind of shots isn’t easy. The sunrise was at 5 a.m. so we had to wake up at 3 a.m. to get ready and reach the shooting place. Additionally we needed time to set up 3 cameras and to find a proper angle, set a proper exposure, in case of a changing lightning. All this demands a professional preparation, one mistake could damage 3 hours of shooting.
Unfortunately, once we’d realized that our reflexions were on the screen and we had to repeat the shooting the other time. Remember to put the lens to the window as close as it’s possible and cover it with – we glued black t-shirts to the window.
NB: How would you sum up the project? From the perspective – are there any things that you would do better / diﬀerently today?
MT: I have to say that I’m really happy of what came out from this footage. Some shots might be more elaborated in detail, but honestly there is nothing I would do better or differently. Good preparation for the shooting is really important, plan is needed – once you have it, you’re all set. I didn’t have sponsors, big budget or a film crew to work with. It was just me and my friends who are rollerbladers. We put a lot of effort and passion to make this happen, so I’m feeling I can say it came out great. I didn’t expect that it will be looking that good.
NB: What is the next big thing for you?
MT: I hope to find some investors for the next productions, because I want to go international. I think about making next “Halla” in such cities like Barcelona, New York City, Sydney. Hopefully with the best bladers around the world.
Without the sponsors I definitely can’t afford it.
NB: Maciej, Thank you for sharing the production details with us.
I look forward to seeing Warsaw Halla in the cinema!