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The Art of Flight

It might be sunny outside now, but we're in England, so its fair to say that winter is just around the corner. For most, this invariably leads to grumbling about dark, depressing days, weather-induced travel disruption, and just how much you can't afford Christmas this year. But for some of us its a time to get excited about the upcoming snow season, and whether you ski or snowboard, nothing gets you in the mood like a stupidly high-budget documentary showing people younger than you, performing tricks you will never be able to do, in places you will never go.
Cool skiing and snowboarding videos are a dime a dozen these days. Every grungy kid with a camera and a rough idea of which way up to hold it can shoot his mate face-planting in their back garden and stick it on you tube, but with so much stuff on the internet these days, people bore easily, so it takes something special to drop the masses' proverbial jaw. The Art of Flight is something special. Released earlier this month, it is the much anticipated sequal to BrainFarms' 2008 release, That's It, That's All, which documents pro snowboarderTravis Rice and his entourage of boarder buddies hurling themselves off some of the most incredible mountains in the world. The sequal aims to go bigger, better and harder and do it all in 3d. With more helicopters.
True to their style, Red Bull Media House spare no expense at producing a luscious looking result chok full of awesome landscape shots, arty focus pulls and lots of obligitory slow mo. Amongst others, Brainfarm used the Phantom Flex camera, capable of packing 1 second of time with a whopping 2800 frames at full 1080p which goes some way to explaining why it features so heavily. Other camera trickery includes lots of low fish-eye shots, the usual head cams, and even suspending a cameraman by his waist from a cable car wire. Huge tricks are what this film is selling and what you get defies belief and seemingly gravity some of the time. Even the helicopter pilots seem to be adrenaline junkies, often nosediving down a cliff face after unloading their troops.
So clearly we can't compare something of this scale to backyard handicam hijinks. Yes, this film does seem to sweat the supposed $2 million budget put into it and wallow smugly in its own glory a little bit, but rightly so too. Despite the fact that this is supposed to be a documentary about snowboarding, or more accurately, a documentary about making a documentary about snowboarding, it is as much about showcasing some really lovely cinematography and editing, while also paying homage to the extreme landscape and conditions that these guys choose to test. Focusing on these aspects makes it so much more accessible to people who would normally have no interest in a film like this. You could show this to your gran and she will probably overlook the fact that some silly boys have stuck two skis together, just because its so beautiful to watch.
So whether your a skier, snowboarder, tobogganer, or enjoy wildlife (in every sense of the word) documentaries, this is guaranteed to send shivers down your spine and possibly have you typing your credit card details into a travel website shortly after. Dangerous stuff.

It might be sunny outside now, but we're in England, so it's fair to say that winter is just around the corner. For most, this invariably leads to grumbling about dark depressing days, weather-induced travel disruption, and just how much you can't afford Christmas this year. But for some of us it's a time to get excited about the upcoming snow season, and whether you ski or snowboard, nothing gets you in the mood like a stupidly high-budget documentary showing people younger than you, performing tricks you will never be able to do, in places you will never go.

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Thu 20 Oct 2011: 2:24pm

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