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Artbeats Takes to the Skies Over Washington


Artbeats, known for its innovative aerial footage, recently shot a new collection of high-resolution aerial stock footage over Washington, D.C., in some of the most restricted air space in the country.

Phil Bates, Artbeats CEO and director of the shoot explained that obtaining permission to film in the restricted zone was very difficult. “All of the effort was rewarded when we finally got clearance to enter the FReeZ (Flight Restricted Zone), and were flying low over the Potomac, with the Capitol on our left, and the Pentagon on our right. To think that we would be able to bring this experience to the world was thrilling,” said Bates. “This is my passion, to take people where they could not otherwise go.”

During each flight, Artbeats was required to have a law enforcement officer on board. Immediately upon landing, military officers combed through all of the footage, deleting any shot that might compromise national security. “Fortunately, they deleted less than 15 minutes of the nearly four hours of footage we acquired,” said Bates. “It was sobering, thinking of all the eyes, radar and (probably) guns that were trained on us during our four flights into the FReeZ.”

Since nearly every shot was captured in day, dusk and night versions, editors can now bring the feeling of a full day in DC to their broadcast productions, feature films, and commercials. Subjects include the Capitol Building, Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery, National Mall, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, US Supreme Court Building, the Watergate, as well as hospitals, universities, stadiums and other government buildings and landmarks. Bates was not allowed to point the camera at the White House, or other sensitive areas, unless the shot was a wide view of the whole city.

All footage was shot from a Twinstar helicopter using a RED EPIC camera mounted in Pictorvision’s Eclipse gyrostabilized gymbal at 5K 2:1 resolution, which was later cropped to 4.5K to remove any lens vignette. Aerial cinematographer Doug Holgate, whose television and film resume includes 24, Lost, Survivor, CSI, Thor, Soul Surfer, and the upcoming End of Watch was brought on as DP/camera operator. Emmy Award-winning pilot Rob Marshall, whose work includes the films Postcards from the Edge and Memoirs of an Invisible Man, commercial spots for Nike, Taco Bell, Hyundai and Samsung, as well as coverage of major sporting events, piloted the helicopter.

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