The Dorset Video Project

Hey, I'm Brady. That's me on the left, with my good friend and fellow creator Arran. The Dorset Video Project was probably one of the longest and biggest projects I’ve worked on and wow it was fun!! But let’s start from the beginning...

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Land and Wave for a couple of years shooting adventure activities for their social media. The owner, Owen, got in touch one afternoon and over a coffee we discussed the idea of using some of the footage we had for them to create something a bit broader, this soon turned into an idea to make an adventure video based around our local area of Poole and Swanage. It’s a stunning area and you could see it in the footage we had… but we just wanted to show off more.

After a quick chat about it I left thinking this would be something that might pick up more traction later in the year... nope... Three days later Owen emailed saying that he’d managed to get 10 local companies on board to help support the project....Time to get to work!!

Knowing we had to make this project work for 10 different companies was slightly daunting, but it was also pretty exciting to know we had the support for trying to show off a place we all love. A couple more brainstorms and we hatched a plan for what we wanted to achieve and how best to achieve it.

For the first month or so we spent a bit of time going through existing footage and pictures that we already had, this was more about seeing what locations would work and how we could make certain shots better. Our first big day filming was early May: we had a small weather window and knew we had to make the most of it…after all this is England!

Our mission for the whole project was to make the places and activities look as good as possible…granted, England doesn’t have the nicest weather so we had to make do with what we got on some of the days. We knew the best light was first thing in the morning and the last few hours of the day and we intended to exploit that as much as possible. This often meant very early starts during summer months making sure we were on location before sunrise and then late finishes in the evening making sure we used the best available light before sunset…. there were a few times when the alarm clock almost had a flight out the window!!! It’s a bit torturous getting up most mornings before 4am but it is so worth it when you see some of the footage you collect in the early hours of the day.

One of our most epic mornings was a Kayak shoot around Old Harry Rocks. It was a super early start for us but Owen had managed to get a group of paddlers together that were keen to help out and we met in Studland at 5.30am and on the water by 6! The water was the calmest I have ever seen it, almost glass like, the only motion coming from the splashing of paddles and the ripple from the kayaks. This made for some incredible imagery and probably some of the best drone footage we shot throughout the project.

It was also a pretty special thing to go and do, it’s not everyday that you get to see Old Harry in those conditions and to be able to paddle right underneath it and get out on the rocks to take a few shots was amazing. This was also one of the funniest points of the shoot… Arran (photographer) had decided he wanted to move position to get a better shot and had to traverse a small ledge of rocks covered by water up to his knees. Not thinking much of it he casually made his way across the rocks before abruptly disappearing leaving nothing but his camera above the water line!… the ledge had come to an end… If I typed text in slang terms I think LOL ROFL and the laughing crying emoji face would have been slapped all over that image!

Let’s talk filming for a bit…

It was important for us to be able to travel to a variety of locations quickly and most often at a moment’s notice. Most of the film days were spent driving, trekking and shooting, then moving from spot to spot throughout the day. Despite wanting to use some amazing gear that offered super slo motion, high quality footage and better optics we decided that it was just overkill for a project like this. We needed to move efficiently for long periods of time and quickly set up camera rigs when needed plus be able to carry more than just film gear. We were also dragging friends with us who do the activities that wanted to help, giving up their free time as and when they could meant we had to use our time wisely and make the most of the time we got with them. Another important factor to what we would take with us was the aim to keep a small footprint on the landscapes we were filming in. We all agreed that although everyone should have access to these places they need to be looked after and we would make an effort not to disrupt anything, some people take the £*$$ by dropping rubbish, leaving a mess and generally abusing these amazing areas. I lost count of the amount of bottles we picked up during filming in certain locations!

We split the gear up between us and made sure everything we needed could fit in our camera packs along with whatever extras we would take. We chose to use small DSLR cameras, a variety of prime and zoom lenses to over all types of shots and most importantly small lightweight drones that were quick and easy to setup, quiet and mobile.

Some of the best footage we got was by using the drones. Many people are now used to seeing shots from a drone, but being able to see a whole new perspective on the landscapes we were in made for some incredible footage and a really diverse video. We were able to easily show off a location before crashing right in on the activity.

Most of the time we filmed as a team doubling up on shots to make sure we covered it at different angles giving us more footage to choose from. Generally there was a team of 3 of us, two filming and one taking photos…probably a little overkill but made sure we got the shots.

Something else we used a lot of was a 3 axis gimbal, this allowed us to shoot motion and tracking shots while remaining really steady. This worked well when matching up with the drone, comparing this to some of the more fast paced handheld stuff we shot, again provide diversity in the footage.

Team Dorset

I think what was most humbling about the whole project was meeting people who had a passion for the outdoors, and specifically Dorset, that wanted to be a part of the project and help out in any way they could. We had people jumping in and out of the sea on cold mornings, running along the Purbecks on cloudy afternoons, getting up at 5am and finishing late, climbing scary rock faces, crashing through trees on mountain bikes, kite surfing in gale force winds…all absolute legends and which made the project what it became, it would not have been as successful without them. People’s energy surprised us the most, the desire to get involved with what we were doing and then spend countless hours charging around giving 100% so we could get the shots.

I remember spending one morning filming the mountain bike sequences with a guy called Josh, we went over to Puddletown forest. The routes we chose started at the top of some heathland covered in overgrown gauze bushes. After getting Josh to fly down a few sections he came back covered in scratches and cuts with blood dripping down shins and arms…he wasn’t bothered, just happy to carry on and get the shots!

Same again with Paul and Vicki who we used for a lot of the climbing sequences… absolutely knackered after we had made them climb the same route over and over they still managed to pull themselves to the top of the boulders!

This video wasn’t purely about the activities but also the places. Dorset is pretty stunning no matter where you go. We took a bunch of trips to various areas in Dorset to just capture scenic shots. We went into the countryside and tried our luck in Cranbourne Chase, then over to West Dorset to see what we could find down there – my favourite was a sunrise at Chesil beach. The shot I had in mind was looking back towards Portland along Chesil and on the morning we chose we got so lucky. It was super calm, no-one was out, the wind was still and the light was on fire. Perfect for filming and we bagged some great landscape shots.

The final cut

While editing the video I decided to break it down into 3 stages… first we wanted to include a ‘prep’ stage showing people getting ready to go outside. We wanted to encourage people to go and jump into the area that surrounds you no matter what activity you chose and we thought showing this section in the video would do that. Half the time we shot this in the evening and faked it as a morning sequence… getting people to run around in their PJ’s and eat cereal at 9pm was a laugh.

The video then develops and picks up pace showing places, people and activity, again we wanted to get people to feel like they can go and do these activities easily. Finally we wanted to close out the video with something a little calmer, we chose to shoot a fire pit scene and use sunset shots to do this. I have a couple of favourite shots in this last section, first was people around the fire, it was super windy when we shot this but the guys we had involved were just having the best time…I think this may have had something to do with the copious amounts of gin supplied by Conker

My other favourite shot was of a good mate walking along a cliff path. I had shot something similar in the area previously but it was empty and need someone to provide scale to the image, so Matt volunteered to climb down and walk back up - cheers mate!!! Watch the video below and see if you can spot the shot...

The video is by no means perfect, there is a lot we have learnt throughout the project and a few things we would do differently if given the chance again, but finally after...

  • 7'000 photos
  • 40 hrs of footage
  • 2000 miles driven
  • 100 breakfast bars eaten
  • Thousands of high fives
  • Multiple crates of Jimmy’s Iced Coffee
  • An eternity in the edit bay

…we finally pulled the video together and made something that I think we are all really proud of and something we hope shows off just what Dorset has to offer.

Special thanks…

A massive thanks go to Owen at Land and Wave for his huge input in organising the project and getting people on-board, to the companies that helped support the project, to the countless friends and general heroes that gave up their time to help and be a part of this project (you all deserve Oscars) and last but not least a huge thanks to the guys who helped shoot the project with Myself and Arran.... Matt Hardy, Tom Burn and Jake Moore…You guys are weapons with those cameras.

The Dorset Video Project was supported by the following companies:

Land and Wave | Cumulus OutdoorsJimmy's Iced Coffee | Conker Spirit | National Trust | Bournemouth and Poole Tourism | The Project Climbing Centre | Saxx Underwear

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