Project: Backcountry Splitboarding
Client: Spotlight Productions & Telus Optic
Role: Director & Field Producer
Alberta’s backcountry is a fantastic playground for everyone, if you are well prepared. We join Sean Isaac and his son Mica as they go on a family backcountry splitboarding adventure in Banff National Park.
Backcountry Splitboarding: Behind The Scenes
There are several locations in Alberta and British Columbia to go backcountry splitboarding, and it can be a fantastic day out for everyone so long as you are careful, travel in a group, and everyone has the skills and equipment to manage avalanche terrain. The reason I wrote and directed this story is that I believe mountain sense takes time to build up and requires mentorship and guidance, so why not start splitboarding when you’re young. As Sean notes in the video, there’s a lot more to looking at a slope covered in fresh powder and thinking it’ll be a fun ride. There’s also a lot more to a video shoot in the backcountry in the winter and the legalities of shooting with a minor in avalanche terrain.
Collaborating with Sean, we chose a suitable location just outside the boundary at Sunshine Village Resort in Banff, Alberta. Honestly, it could not have been more ideal – there’s even a beacon basin for testing your avalanche skills before you head out to Wawa Ridge or beyond! It was also the perfect slope for our story as we would require our 9-year old talent to skin up and ride down on his splitboard several times – no skidoos, no helicopters, just leg power. Then it was off to Parks Canada and Sunshine Village Resort for permits – essentially proof that we knew what we were doing and a small fee for the parks. They were both stoked to have a local story shot using local talent so all we needed was a weather window. We waited, waited some more, but our winter just kept getting warmer and warmer. I would have preferred to shoot in March when there’s generally better weather at Sunshine and you can enjoy the views, but we had a story to deliver so we pushed ahead in February. In the end, we got lucky and had some fresh snow, only losing the timelapse shots of the Monarch Range.
Working closely with Nick Sharpe, our ACMG ski guide from Yamnuska Mountain Adventures, myself and camera operator Michael Klekamp shot with two Sony FS7’s both carefully protected with Portobrace winter bags as we positioned ourselves on the slope to tell Sean and Mica’s story. Aside from the affordable price of the Sony FS7, its lightweight compact form and ability to provide us with Ultra High Definition were perfect for the backcountry. The only downside is that its slow-motion is limited to 60fps which in an era of extreme slow-mo in adventure sports filmmaking, requires more footage and more planning. However, budgets and timeframes would not allow for a Red Epic so I focused on capturing a solid family adventure story with Sean and Mica.
VIDEO GEAR RECOMMENDATIONS
Professional equipment for adventure documentary shoots.
Sony PXW-FS7 XDCAM
Best lightweight 4k camera for
adventure video production.
GoPro Hero 4 Black
Essential tool for all adventure
video production shoots.
Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS
Use this lens for long shots
and add a doubler.
Sennheiser G3 Wireless System
Capture clean audio in the backcountry
and don’t forget wind covers
OUTDOOR ADVENTURE GEAR RECOMMENDATIONS
Stay warm and dry while shooting adventure documentary videos.
Heat 3 Smart Gloves
Keep your tips warm and control digital screens
Arc’teryx Theta SV Bib
Lightweight and Durable
Bib Pants with GORE-TEX
Icebreaker Oasis Leggings
Moisture wicking Merino Wool
leggings for cool weather.
Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer
Lighweight down hoody to keep
warm while standing around shooting.