Obviously a big part of the formations being performed in the air is not only how you achieve them with the skydivers but also about how we captured the action on film.
At twelve thousand feet you cannot just point a camera to the sky from the ground. You have to have highly trained aerial cameramen who not only need to be expert skydivers but also be masters of getting into the right position in the air to film the other divers.
Tom actually cut his face with his goggles through the pressure the weight of his helmet puts on his head.
Even with all their experience this shoot posed a number of new difficulties for our cameramen.
Tom Saunders explained some of the challenges he faced:
“We normally shoot with really wide angle lenses to make sure we get all the divers in the frame. Here we need to shoot much tighter frames with longer lenses so we can get up close to the divers faces to get the filmic portraits we are looking for. This gives us much less room for error.
We also need to fly on our fronts. Flying on your back makes the camera work easier as you have a wider scope of head movement but you fall too fast. With the weight of the 35mm cameras we have to over compensate for the weight to make sure we maintain the falling speed with the formation team. The only way to do this is to fly on our fronts but this means we have only a small scope of head movement so have to make sure we are positioned in the exact place and fall at the exact rate."
"We also realised on the first dive that it is going to be hard for the formation guys to judge their distance from us and not look into the lenses. The idea is that we are documenting the action rather than the divers being aware of the camera. Much of sky diving is done through visual contact and head movements; if they cannot look straight at me they will need to keep checking their distance and then looking away. If they get it wrong they chance making a mistake in the formation or worse still crashing into me. That wouldn’t be a problem if I didn’t have a 35lb camera on my head and was falling at 115 miles an hour!"
BJ explains the difficulties the cameramen have to overcome in order to film the action:
Skydive watching: For the guys left on the ground this is the only way we can tell if the divers have pulled off their formation before they get back down.