Pushing Gear to Extremes

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Sun, 10/14/2012 - 20:00 -- Nick Dager

After traveling the world for years starring in some of the ski genre’s most acclaimed films Tom Day made the successful switch to the other side of the lens as a cinematographer. Since then he’s shot action sports commercials and documentaries for top names including Warren Miller Entertainment. His latest effort took him to Alaska where he tested gear for a shoot later following extreme athletes across the South Pole for a movie called The Push. Day began shooting with 16mm and 35mm cameras and more recently moved to digital video explaining “No matter what format I’ve been using Sachtler fluid heads from the outset.” “When I started shooting with DSLR cameras I admit I tried a different cheaper tripod. We did a test trip to Alaska late last year in preparation for our trip to photograph The Push ” Day who served as the films director of photography and on-location director explains. “It follows two adaptive athletes pushing the limits and themselves in the most inhospitable place on the planet – the South Pole. “We learned quickly that we were up against tremendous odds ” he says. “At temperatures from 0 to -15 degrees our equipment would seize up in the cold so I couldn’t do a simple pan. When I came back I knew I needed new support. So it was back to my trust in Sachtler. “The specs on the FSB 8 went to -40 degrees. Exactly what I needed for this journey ” he says. “I’d chosen the Sony NX5 and the Canon 7D cameras. I’ve found that one of the biggest mistakes people make is to undersize their tripod ” he adds. “When you get on the long end of the lens you get into a shaky situation so you have to go with solid support. By choosing the FSB 8 system we still had a lightweight 75mm ball to attach to smaller legs and we could go long and handle the extremes we faced.” Traveling to the location was not an easy chore. Day’s equipment needed to pack easily travel lightly and set up quickly. “I had to carry everything as we flew to Antarctica journeyed to the staging area at Union Glacier then flew to The Last Degree (the 89th degree below the South Pole). We then packed everything on our sleds and followed adaptive athlete Grant Korgan as he did the 72-mile trip up to the 90th degree – the South Pole. “We did roughly six to eight miles a day depending on conditions ” Day explains. “The average temperature was -30 to -40 degrees. Our food tents and so forth were tied down to our sleds with the camera package on top. The Sachtler FSB 8 was crucial to the shoot. Since we could move faster than Grant we stayed ahead of him. We’d find a spot pull out the equipment set up and shot then pack up and move on. “It got so that I didn’t even think about the cruel environment that I was putting the Sachtler through ” he adds. “I trusted it so much I knew when it came to panning shots no matter what the temperature it would give me what I wanted and more. “Now that I’ve put the FSB 8 through the extreme paces needed to capture The Push I look forward to using this newest Sachtler support in my arsenal on future jobs.” The Push which follows adaptive athletes across the frozen Antarctic landscape shows the capacity of the human spirit to overcome life-altering injuries and live up to their potential is now in post-production. When finished the project team will submit it to various film festivals and hopes it will also air on television.