Tracking Shots Ep.19 – Rockstar at the 2012 X Games

The X Games wrapped up last week and Rockstar shooter and Cinevate pal, Travis Valtierra has been in a shooting frenzy preparing for the event. Travis has been sharing media and behind-the-scenes with us over various shoots, though mostly on his Canon 7D or Canon XF305, however, you’ll quickly notice from these BTS pics that he’s added a bigger gun to his camera arsenal – the RED Epic (you’ll spot some slo-mo goodness a few times in the video). You’ll see some of Travis’ slider shots using the Atlas 10 camera slider or supporting his cameras using various Simplis configurations (all of which are part of our Summer Sale until July 31st, 2012).

Travis composes a shot on his RED Epic and Atlas 10 Camera Slider

Travis composes a shot on his RED Epic and Atlas 10 Camera Slider

An Interview with Travis Valtierra

Q\ Can you tell us a bit about the XDurance Series, in particular with what you captured in this episode and what we can expect throughout the series?

A\ The Rockstar XDurance series was created to run during the duration of X Games and create content around it without having to capture every event while it was going on. Outside media at X Games is not allowed to shoot qualifying or the final event which really limits us to the type of content we want to create. We decided it would be a better approach to show what goes into getting ready at X and what it takes to compete in an event as large as X Games with everything else that is in the athletes schedule.

Q\ Looking not just at this video but the other works you’ve shared with us as a whole, it’s easy to see that you’ve found a good balance between interview and b-roll footage. No matter how much b-roll I capture I’m always kicking myself in post, wishing I had a few more shots. What kind of advice would you give in capturing B-roll?

A\ I originally came from a post background where I was always assembling the edits and I feel that I have a good sense of what’s needed and what’s not. With that said, I try and visualize the piece before I go shoot and really adapt to what is around me while shooting. Shooting the interview first is always helpful because its the best way to paint your picture, once your vision is clear all you have to do is shoot it. When I am shooting the supporting footage, I like to shoot all the shots a few different ways so it gives me some variety when I am editing so I can find the right flow. I guess you can say I overshoot, there are normally some good shots that just don’t make it but I would rather have that and spend that extra 10-15 minutes to get the shot then not get it. I have found in most instances, if your gut tells you that you should shoot it real quick, then you are probably right.

Travis in-transit with his gear, protected by Tenba + Cinevate

Travis in-transit with his gear, protected by Tenba + Cinevate

Q\ With most live events some of the greatest moments happen in the blink of an eye and are easily missed. I’d expect this is the case with X Games athletes especially considering that their activities can be dangerous. What are some of the challenges in shooting these sports?

A\ With these sports and with really anything else, real moments happen when they happen and are hard to recreate. Being prepared and working around the athletes while they do their thing and paying attention to every detail is key. Around X Games week every athlete is busy in their own way, so making most of the time is key and not wasting their time or your time is important. In some cases you might only have an hour to an hour and half to shoot all your content and interview and that’s it. With a few of the shoots it was important to keep in mind to keep moving around to get the variety, even if the shot look really good because you have to remember to shoot for the edit.

Q\ Going from the 7D to a workflow intensive camera like the Epic must have been a fair jump. What were the challenges shooting with the camera in the field and working with the footage in post?

A\ Thankfully it wasn’t too bad of a transition from a camera like a 7D to the Epic, I would say the biggest thing is actually dealing with the media. Since the Epic I used had the EF mount it made it easy to carry the lens around and also all of them were zooms. I think having PL Primes would of been more difficult since we would of needed a full matte box rig. I used the LightCraft ND Fader filters with allows me to not have to deal with all that mess while on the go. We kept the Camera small so it could be picked up and carried around easily and with the Cinevate articulating grip handles it made the camera very comfortable for quick handheld shots. We shot everything at 5K to get the most out of the sensor but we had to bring it down to 8:1 but even then we were eating through the 128gb cards pretty quickly. If this was going to be a camera I shot on everyday I would need to find a happy medium on the quality vs the shooting ratio.

Post really wasn’t too bad, since I moved all our editing to Adobe Premiere it was pretty much “Drag and Drop”. Not to say that we didn’t run into a few issues with CS6 crashing here and there, but it still beats having to try and transcode all the footage, it reality it saved a lot of time.  It was nice to have the 5K as well because our working timeline was in 1080 which allowed us to create insert shots within the main frame.

Q\ A quick tech detail question because I know someone will ask, lol – What cameras and lenses did you use?

A\ The overall series was kind of all over the place as far as formats but on the Mike Mason and Ronnie Fassit piece all of it was Red Epic minus the close up for the interviews, all the other edits were shot with a mix of 7D, XF305 and AF100. The Lenses we used were Canon 16-35, 70-200, 24-70 IS 2, Sigma 10mm and on the AF100 we used the Olympus 9-18mm, Olympus 14-54mm and the Canon Lenses listed. I had a little bit of help on these pieces as well, I had my buddy Matt Morning bring out an Epic and he worked with me on the Mike Mason and Ronnie Fassit Piece. I had Blair Madiagn shoot the Todd Potter and Greg Lutzka edits as well as Mike Aldape and Geoff Sykes help me out with the Cam Sinclair, Rob Adelberg and Brian Deegan piece. The editing was split between my self and Danny McGinnis. With 12 edits on my plate there was no way I could do it alone, especially when we also were wrapping up the teaser for “Life In The Foust Lane”, which is our newest series that will be coming out later this month.

Q\ Finally, did you learn anything from this shoot you’ll carry over to the next that you’d like to share with the readers?

A\ Well, I already knew this but something that I am not able to have all the time is a helping hand. Having a friend coming out on every shoot was pretty nice, it was good to be able to focus in on what i was doing with out having to focus on everything because to be honest, the end result is always better when you work together as a team. So for all my friends we came and helped me out, I am very thankful.

Travis and his Epic capture Mike Mason walkin' the dog

Travis and his Epic capture Mike Mason walkin' the dog

Thanks to Travis for taking the time to answer some questions and, as always, for sharing the video and behind-the-scenes pics.  You can check out the rest of Rockstar’s XDurance Performance Series on their Youtube Page or check out the teaser for their new series ‘Life in the Foust Lane‘ which premieres later this month.

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