The Full Release, Parts 1-6

Watch the full release in six parts on YouTube:
Recommend viewing in High-Definition.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

PART ONE (The First 15 Minutes)

I am pleased to announce that Part One, containing the first 15 minutes of our film, is now online and available here!


Also, see the full discussion thread on the largest Top Gear fansite here: Discussion Thread

Monday, October 27, 2008

Still Shots from the Wrap-Up Shoot

We are getting close to a release! We recently finished filming the wrap-up, so here are some still shots:

Friday, October 3, 2008

Second Trailer!

The second trailer for this film is now online:

We've gone ahead and decided to do some additional shooting which will be happening sometime this month (October). Ultimately it became necessary to do in order to ensure that the film is really complete when we release it. So we're probably looking at December for a release date.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Technical filming info from the DP

WOW, sounds like quite a few people are interested in this project. Below is some technical info I wrote up for one of the forums. Feel free to contact me if you have questions or anything else.

Most external footage was shot on the Panasonic HVX-200. I shot 720p in 30PN mode. We used two 16GB P2 cards, and downloaded them as we drove. I used an old Apple Powerbook as the card reader and dumped the cards to a small portable HDD for the day. At night I would dump the drive to out production 750GB drive. I also used a small little app called P2Formatter to reformat the cards in the computer so I wouldn't have to stop filming to do it in the camera.

Each car was fitted with a small miniDV camera for the driver shots. They were mounted to the windshield with 4 inch suction cups and mounting hardware from Manfrotto. The cameras used were a Canon ZR10 and two Canon ZR40s.

Lastly I fitted a fifth camera outside to various places as a throw away camera. It was a Sony HC85, that I had picked up for free and fixed it. Cracked Lens area and no audio. Perfect material for dusty outside stuff where I didn't want to hurt a camera.

Audio, I'm ashamed to say was not as well equipped, but should work out okay. I used a camera mounted shotgun mic, and a wireless lapel system would I could. The shotgun was an AT835 (mono version) and the lapel mic was a TR50 hooked into a Sennheiser g2 series wireless system.

All of the in-car audio was on-board camera mics, which worked surprising well.

Lighting was tough, as we were constantly on the go. I used a Litepanel mini LED setup on the HVX, and we used, I'm embarrassed to say, car windshield reflectors that go inside to protect your dash when you park your car as bounce for the daytime exterior shots.

I also brought along some open faced 500watt photo lights that I used to light a few of the talking scenes, when I was low on light. I ran those off of a 2000watt Vector Power Inverter that ran off of a spare Red Top Optima battery.

An Apple 1.25GHz Powerbook was used as the card reader and tape capture device. While a 2.4GHz MacBookPro was used for ingesting the HD footage from the .mxf files.

oh ya, and the most impressive and important tool of all was the camera vehicle. It had to haul ass and keep ahead of the BMW, ACR, and Fiat. I filmed a large part of the project out the back or a 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I strapped a small shitty plastic tripod down to the tie down points and used it as a camera mount.

When not going handheld (rare for a show like this) I had a cheap Bogen 501 head and sticks for camera support.

Lastly: Why the HVX-200 and not a cheaper HDV camera or more professional ENG style camera?
-no tape, no dropouts due to dust or G-forces and vibration
-HVX-200 is super durable, we were shooting where it was dusty and it performed like a champ
-pretty lightweight good for handheld stuff
-small enough to muscle around in a moving car unlike Sony's CineAlta line or other ENG style cameras.
-I had access to one
-Oh ya, did I mention NO TAPE!! (I hate tape, especially from dusty cameras mounted to cars with stiff suspension)

Anyways, I hope that covers the technical stuff for the most part. Feel free to ask questions, and I really appreciate all the interest in the project. A ton of fun, looking forward to doing more stuff like this.

-CJ Arnesen

Behind the Scenes

A couple of behind the scenes shots for those who have been asking about our setups:

Monday, September 1, 2008

Questions & Answers

Yesterday, I posted this project on a few message boards. I'd just like to say that we are all very excited about the outpouring of positive response so far!!

A number of people had questions about the project so I will try to address them here to the extent that I can and to the extent that I want to (No, I won't tell you who our Stig is).

Q: When will this be out?
A: This seems to be the most asked question so far, which is awesome! I'm glad people are stoked to see the final product. Unfortunately it's still a ways off, for a number of reasons.

First, we literally just finished production. The trailer was the first thing I did after logging all the footage. I'm just starting to get into editing now. I can reasonably project that the final cut of the film will be ready by the end of the year. But we're not a studio looking to time our release or anything; if it's finished sooner, it'll be out sooner.

Second, we may still shoot more. We've talked about going back to a couple places to get "pickup" shots where we may need them. We've also discussed shooting a Top Gear-style in-studio wrap-up scene for the end of the film once I have a rough cut ready. Either of these will mean a delay in editing, but ultimately a better film once all is said and done. So bear with me, I will keep you updated.

Q: Where were the roads?
A: I won't give away any of the exact locations, but just from the trailer and the stills I've put up, you can probably figure out some of where we were. And, I have already stated that the trip began in San Luis Obispo, so that should give some clues.

Q: Is that a Neon?
A: Yes.

Q: Hoping Andy Wilman will get a look at it, eh?
A: We made this film for fun and for ourselves. We're not trying to get anything out of it. But, it would be awesome if Wilman, or Clarkson/Hammond/May ever saw our final product. I'd love to hear what they think of it.

Q: What did you shoot on/what equipment did you use?
A: I'll let our DP field this question as he knows better than I do.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Trailer on Youtube

Our 1min trailer is now up on Youtube!

Still Shots

Here are some still shots I grabbed from the high definition camera:


This project was created when my friends and I decided that there were some great roads in California that Top Gear had overlooked in their "World's Greatest Driving Road" segment. We also came together under the common desire to make a film, something we hadn't done as a group for a number of years. We were fortunate enough to have among our group of friends a highly skilled Loyola film graduate pursuing a career as a Director of Photography. His name is CJ Arnesen.

Most of us have finished or are finishing school and we all have different jobs in various fields. Some of us work 9-5 and others work all sorts of odd hours, so coordinating one time that we'd all be available took some doing.

The project was envisioned as a three-day film shoot going up the coast of California, starting in San Luis Obispo. Not having a Top Gear-sized budget, we decided to do it as a "cheap car challenge" and set an arbitrary budget for the cars of $5,000. Not dirt cheap, but not too expensive either -- given our limited time we wanted to be sure we weren't just fixing beater cars for the entire trip, something that could have easily been the case had we gone with a lower budget of say, $1,500. To get everything we'd need in just three days was extremely ambitious and would require us to spend every waking moment working on the film.

Ultimately our shoot was a huge success; we drove some of the greatest roads any of us have ever driven. we met with successes and failures along the way, and encountered challenges, including a very unique race across the streets of San Francisco.

We're now in post-production. Stay tuned for updates.