PRODUCTION THE STORM CHASER
FINDING WAYS TO ADD TEXTURE WAS GREAT FUN, SOMETIMES IT CAME IN THE camera movement, SOMETIMES WE CREATED wind, rain, OR we smeared the filters with gunk ”
had some 3D-printed magnets made so that I could quickly rig these into tight spaces out of shot,” comments Billany. “In addition, I employed a Hudson Spider Mozzie kit – which I love and use all the time – and an Aladdin Bi-Flex 4 for a couple of shots.” The most troublesome technical aspect of the project was capturing footage when in the water. While they wanted a dynamic and frenetic feel to the sequence, being at the mercy of both wind and tide made getting the right shot tricky. Eschewing long-lens work in favour of keeping the camera moving and immersing the viewer in the experience, Pirie and Billany favoured a thick-of-the-action roughness over technical precision. Initially, Traversa’s camera operator was filming stationary from a Jet Ski, but none of the footage felt right for Pirie. “So I said – ‘Well, could you follow instead of staying still? Can we try and
ride alongside him?’” remembers Pirie. “And even though that meant tons of camera shake – which is inevitable without an incredibly expensive rig – I decided it didn’t matter… then we tried it and I was looking at it like: ‘Oh my god, this is magic stuff.’ It now had that energy – it makes you feel like you are really in a storm.” With the camera package weighing around 20kg, speeding along on the back of a Jet Ski wasn’t simple. “We got what we needed, but I wouldn’t recommend it!” laughs Billany. “Some of the aspects I most enjoyed were attempts to heighten the realism on Thomas’ journey,” he continues. “We had these great locations, in this blue- hour light, but how can we make it feel like a storm is coming? Finding ways to add texture was great fun, sometimes it came through the camera movement, sometimes we created wind, rain, or we smeared the filters with gunk.”
AFTER THE STORM When it came to post-production, Primary Visual Effects took on the job of polishing up the film’s dark, stylised look and adding an element of the fantastical, in the form of a dreamlike bird soaring above the crashing waves. “The brief there was: ‘How can we make a mythological creature that feels part of the storm?’ What we didn’t want was something that feels like it’s come out of nowhere and sticks out, so we wanted it to blend into the sky. Turns out, this was hugely complicated!” Pirie laughs. “For me, that VFX shot is crucial, as it’s like a manifestation of Thomas’ childhood imagination.” Factory Studios was tasked with setting the aural mood, working to create a lush soundscape and building what Pirie describes as an ‘uncanny’ feeling. “I guess the thematic heart of this film is a question about how we comprehend the forces of life beyond our control, and how we make sense of that,” he muses. “For me, it was about making the storm this otherworldly thing. Sound-wise, we spent lots of time just talking about how to do that, and considering what the palette was.” The Storm Chaser is currently being developed into a feature film, or catch the short at upcoming events including the Ocean Film Festival, which tours the UK this autumn.
KING OF THE WAVES Thomas Traversa has been a competitive windsurfer since 2003, winning a Professional Windsurfers Association wave world title in 2014
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