Hi-Ground Media recently created an exciting free-ride mountain biking stereoscopic show for Red Bull Media House North America, titled Red Bull Rampage: The Evolution. The half-hour extreme mountain biking show premiered in August on 3Net, (a new 24/7 3D television network backed by Sony, Discovery and IMAX and distributed by DirecTV) and is set to cycle through another series of airings beginning Oct. 6.
Gregg Katano and Ajay Relan, partners at Hi-Ground Media, the Los Angeles-based 3D production, visual effects and color grading house, had been developing their working relationship with Red Bull Media House International (RBMH GmbH) and Red Bull Media House North America (RBMH NA) for quite some time, looking for the perfect project to begin their partnership. Rampage, which captures the excitement and adventure of the top riders from around the world as they compete at the world’s most extreme free-style mountain biking event called Red Bull Rampage: The Evolution seemed to be the perfect kick-off project.
“It had all the ingredients that would make for an incredible 3D experience,” said Katano. “Fearless free-ride mountain bikers navigating down a rugged 1,500-foot virtually vertical landscape merging speed, style and agility together. The scenery of the Utah Mountains and surrounding areas added to the depth and made it optimal for 3D.”
Hi-Ground handled every aspect of the project, from story/concept creation and development through production and final delivery. “We shot with multiple SI2K 3D camera set ups strategically placed throughout the site to best capture the essence of jaw-dropping event. We also included an additional high-speed camera in conjunction with 3ality Technica’s Pulsar rig,” explained co-producer, Wayne Miller. “The compact, easily movable package was perfect for the rugged, rocky terrain we knew we would be encountering. It also proved to be robust enough to be set-up and precisely aligned in the short period of time we had.”
The team behind Red Bull Rampage: The Evolution had five days, including practice, qualification and actual competition to capture needed footage. This was tight schedule for any production, let alone one impacted by the rocky terrain and sporadic changes in weather. Base camp was several miles from the actual course.
“One minute it could be blazing hot and the next, pouring rain with an occasional wind storm,” explained Katano. “There were several times when we had to stand by and wait for things to clear, since even the slightest amount of wind could prove to significantly increase the difficulty for the riders.”
Once Hi-Ground had wrapped the production stage, it was brought back to their homebase in Culver City and the post process commenced immediately. Starting with their own proprietary 3D data management processing, naming convention and backup procedures, followed by their 3D creative production pipeline and workflow that takes the project through offline, graphic design and animation, technical optimization, color correction and final convergence.
Co-directors Mike ‘Mack Dawg’ McEntire and Wayne Miller were editing in their heads as they were shooting. “So, when we returned to Hi-Ground they had a pretty good idea of the story we wanted to tell, but we always know going in that it could be ultimately influenced by the quality of the 3D we captured,” added Relan. “Sometimes the difficulty when working in 3D is that ‘ideal moments’ could be affected and potentially omitted due to acts of Mother Nature and other occurrences that are beyond our control and we have to then make the judgment call on, if the shot will make the cut.”
“There is a huge difference between 3D and 2D,” Katano added. “It’s all about margin of error. It is extremely small in 3D and the slightest miscalculation can be devastating to a shot, or worse, the entire project. The old adage ‘we’ll fix it in post’ doesn’t apply here. Though there is becoming more latitude in 3D post with each new geometry and color software that comes out, the actual ‘fixing’ of poorly shot 3D is very minimal or even non-existent.”
“There was clearly a high level of trust and support that we felt from Red Bull Media House.” Katano added. “They allowed us to take complete ownership of all 3D production aspects of the project while being completely accessible whenever there were questions regarding the logistics of the event or opportunities for creative collaboration. By final delivery, we were thrilled when Red Bull expressed to us that we had not only captured some of the best natively shot 3D to date, but we had also captured the authenticity of the hardcore followers of the sport and their brand.”