Tuesday 27 May 2014

Tarawera Ultramarathon

Tarawera Ultramarathon Short Documentary

We have just wrapped up our third year of producing the official mini-documentary for the Vibram Tarawera Ultramarathon. Our involvement started in 2012 with a single camera and two-time event winner Kerry Suter helping out behind the scenes.
It was a crazy week. We caught up with Anton Krupicka, we interviewed numerous elite world-class athletes, and I was even brave enough to hang out of the side of a helicopter to shoot some stunning aerial footage around the Rotorua region.

In 2013 we teamed up with Aaron Smart from Smart As Productions. Aaron has a lot of experience shooting live action events, and he was a great addition to the team. Unfortunately due to fire-risk from a severe drought, the last 40km of the course was closed and the race couldn't make it to the planned finish in Kawerau. Instead, the course turned back on itself at the 60km mark, and finished near the start at Lake Okareka.
It was a stunning day despite the difficulties, and we think the video that we produced really captures the essence of such a fantastic event.

In 2014, the Tarawera Ultramarathon became part of the Ultra-Trail World tour, which puts it on par with the top 10 ultramarathons in the world. We decided that in order to capture the scale of such a massive, world-class event, we needed to step up our game.
A 6 camera crew was formed, including a dedicated drone operator to capture aerial video. We arrived in Rotorua 4 days before the race, ready for an action-packed 5 day shoot. Some of the scheduled events included a fun run, the race registration and even an official Maori greeting at the famous Te Puia cultural centre.

In the week leading up to the race, the weather forecast wasn't looking promising. At 7pm on the Friday night before the race, it was announced that the course would be shortened from 100km to 73km due to the inevitable arrival of a cyclone. For safety reasons, a large part of the forest that the course ran through was being closed.

After months of pre-production and planning, this really threw a spanner in the works for the film crews, the race organisers and the athletes. Months of our planning was thrown out, and we spent the remainder of the night piecing together a new plan for race day.

To everyone's surprise, race day arrived to reasonably clear skies. We managed to shoot some stunning footage at race start and around Blue Lake with just some mild drizzle getting in the way. It wasn't until mid-day that Cyclone Lusi really arrived. But thanks to wet-weather protection for our cameras, we made it through the day with no major technical difficulties.

Overall, it was a very successful shoot. We feel privileged to be involved with such a great event. The event organisers were faced with more than their fair share of challenges, but still managed to pull off a fantastic race, Hopefully we'll be back next year, hopefully the sun will be out, and hopefully we'll make it to Kawerau!

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