Behind the scenes on the Verizon wingsuit ad (VIDEO)


posted Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 3:17 PM EDT


Wingsuit pilots are some of the most insane people on the planet. Hurling themselves off of high places, they perform dangerous turns, swoop close to the ground, and generally instill a  sense of terror in viewers, thanks to the fact that they're controlling their descent using just material stretched between their limbs. So if you're going to use a wingsuit pilot in your ads, how do you go about shooting them?

Late last year, Verizon produced an ad called "Verizon Fios Wingsuit BASE" for its FiOS Quantum service—and the 30 second spot featured veteran wingsuit pilot Dave Barlia zooming down a mountain in Switzerland, and into someone's home. Now production company th2ng have released a behind the scenes look at the ad, which was directed by famed film director Rob Cohen.

The shoot itself was mostly comprised of real, in-camera footage. Only the last two scenes, of the pilot flying into a house used special effects. Prior to that, it was shot using a combination of cameras on board Barlia, people on the ground tracking his motion, and him being followed by another glider, who acted as a cameraman with a 5DII strapped to his helmet. That in itself was hard enough, including challenges like how to set up a crane shot of the initial jump at 10,000 feet up a mountain. Combine that with foul weather, and the need to do 20 takes to get all the footage of the high-speed gliders as necessary, and you have some idea of how big of an undertaking it was.

The second phase of shooting involved simulating Barlia coming into a house, which involved simulating a descent into the home using a model helicopter with a camera on-board; as well as a ground level swoop, that was made using a high speed suspension rig.

All told, it's a huge amount of work and effort for a 30 second TV spot. But that jump really does take your breath away.

(via ISO1200)