Gatorade “Go All Day” Steadicam Shot

Thursday, September 15th, 2011 recently posted a video sponsored by Gatorade featuring Chaz Ortiz, a 17 yr old skateboarding phenom. I was given the honor of operating, and it turned out to be some of my proudest work. Thank you to and thanks to all of the operators in the Steadicam community that took notice and have shared their thoughts and kind words.

We shot the video essentially MOS with a scratch track. We used the AWESOME Arri Alexa and with an Optimo 15-40 zoom… although we did not zoom at all in the video. I flew the camera on my Ultra2 with an MDR2, CamWave, and a pair of Ken-Lab KS-4 gyros powered off my own custom made gyro inverters.

The biggest factor in the success of the video was that the producers realized we needed time to pull this off. I think less seasoned producers would have pushed for a 1-day shoot. Fortunately, they understood the complexity and we had 2-days to make this happen. For those of you that might not have guessed, the video was shot in 3-pieces (2 cuts only). The two cuts bookend the time-lapse section… but I will get into that more later. The three sections were “Arrival,” “Time-Lapse” and “Skateboarding.”

So, since we had 3-sections to shoot, we spent Day 1 rehearsing & shooting the more complex section… “Skateboarding.” We figured that if something went wrong, it would be in that section and we would have Day 2 in order to resolve the problem. Day 2 was spent first rehearsing the first section of the video, “Arrival.” We then shot the “Time-Lapse” section, and then shot the “Arrival.”

Now there’s never enough time, but I have to say it was nice having as much as we did. The AD would work with the extras for the first couple hours of the day to work out a rough blocking. Meanwhile we were setting up the camera, discussing the days schedule, etc. Then we would spend a couple hours walking through the section we were shooting that day. No camera! Just working out logistics. This obviously included the shot and blocking, but we had to also consider communication with extras for cues, vehicles & safety (more on this later), and coordination of a spotter, my AC, the DP, and at times the AD.

Once we were satisfied we had addressed every detail, we started running through it with the camera. We would walk through the shot, piece-by-piece, stopping and starting to make minor tweaks to blocking until we had it down, and then ran through a full pass or two. When we came back from lunch we had specific things to tackle each day. On the first day we had to give Chaz time to practice his tricks. The ones in the hallway seemed like cake for Chaz, but that giant rail slide was a different story. It took about an hour for Chaz to warm up to it. It was amazing to watch. He approached it very meticulously. He first took a couple dozen approaches to it stopping right before the rail. Once he was finally ready he took to the air, and didn’t quite get it… but I’ve never seen any one take a fall so well from that height. That was it… after that he was a machine.

While we were actually shooting he did 10 takes in a row without fail… it was amazing. What was even more amazing was he had to wait at the top of the stairs while the shot continued, listening to the marching band playing, and waiting for a cue to go. Not the ideal scenario for prepping yourself for a big trick like that. Nonetheless he was a champ! We did 11 takes (I think), and he only fell once.

On day 2 we shot the “Time-Lapse” section between rehearsal of and shooting the “Arrival.” This was done with a lock off camera, but during one of our tech scouts I suggested that I shoot a minute or two of the hallway on the steadicam (without anyone in the frame) and that the visual effects person map the “float” from that onto the finished time-lapse footage. They loved the idea and it worked great. It really sells the move as a single take.


The “Arrival” was shot on day two. It was certainly the shorter and less complex of the two. What was lost in the edit was that we actually built a platform on the front of the car Chaz is arriving in and drove for a couple hundred feet at the head and tail of the shot. Then stepped on/off the platform as Chaz got in/out of the car. Problem was there was a lot of time killed in the slowing down and stopping of the car. I had suggested a crane step on/off instead, but I think budget was prohibitive. So in the edit they just cut out the gimmick… oh well!

The stairwell inside the school was of course challenging. I didn’t want to just follow or precede the entire way. I find this so boring. It needs to move the story forward or there is no point. I also had to consider the two or three others from the crew that were following along to make sure they weren’t in the shot. We knew we wanted to start the stairs following, and end preceding… at least that’s what the director envisioned. But I wanted to make the transition at the first landing. So I worked with the director to come up with an action that would allow this to happen. This is where the two girls came in (one of which was the daughter of our focus puller Al Cohen). The girls toss some paper at Chaz, this draws our attention over to them, which in turn allowed my AC, DP & AD to pass camera left. Once they were on the landing, I used the girls look to draw camera back to Chaz. This allowed the crew to get ahead and above me on the next set of stairs, which I climbed walking backwards if I recall correctly.

After this, it was simple stuff. Chaz puts skateboard in locker and goes to class. Of course I had to land and lock off on the same mark each time, at the same lens height, with the same tilt. To do this, we set up the end frame before rolling either the “Arrival” or the “Skateboarding.” Then we placed an apple box on the mark with a furniture pad on top of it, and of course marked it like crazy in case it moved between takes. During the arrival I used the pan at the very end of that segment to hide a very slow boom down. This was in order to kiss the bottom of my rig down onto that furniture pad…which told me I was at the right height & position. Then I held the shot locked off for about 20 or 30 seconds. At the beginning of the “Skateboarding” section I started with the rig just barely touching the furniture pad and floated away. We were able to get the camera within an inch or so every take… and this was acceptable for visual effects to stitch the shots together.

We did 11 takes. In my experience on these long takes… take 7 is the one everyone nails… then it kinda goes to crap for some reason for a couple takes, and then everyone finally nails it again on take 10 or 11. That was of course the case here… we nailed both “Arrival” and “Skateboarding” on take 7, then again on take 10 or 11 which was the last take we did for each. Once we had two keepers we went home.


The “Skateboarding” section is probably the more interesting section from a technical perspective. Again, I started the shot with the camera floating just above a furniture pad, with the post over the mark we set for the end of the time-lapse. The camera then floats away as Chaz sneaks out of class and heads to his locker.

The stairs again posed a challenge. The client (Gatorade) was not too aggressive in getting product shots… but they did want some visibility. In all, we have Chaz drinking from the Gatorade bottle twice, a Gatorade water bottle sticking out of the basketball players gym bag, and an orange Gatorade cooler carried through the background right before the rail slide. So they were pretty hands off. However, this was where we needed to show Chaz drinking from the product. So we needed to be in front of him going down the stairs.

I took the first set of stairs in Don Juan with my crew just below me on the stairs. Then they all tucked against the wall as I switched out and followed Chaz down the second set of stairs. We needed to follow down this set of stairs so we could establish a trash can at the bottom of the stairs that he would stop at and throw out the bottle. However, this made it really tough on the crew. They got stuck behind me going down the stairs. So when we reached the bottom they needed a way to get by. We were already working with a tight space and close to minimum focus on the lens. So at the bottom of the stairs I had to play it just right to stay outside minimum and leave just inches for three people to clear (my AC, DP & AD).

After they cleared they flew out the door and loaded onto a golf cart. Many people suspected a segway, but this would have been tough (but not impossible) to step onto… AND, you have to remember I have three other people with me. So instead, the key grip (Gus Vasquez) built a platform on the front of a golf cart just inches off the ground which made the step on/off really nice.


I worked with the directors to create a beat for the step on… it made sense anyway that since he was sneaking out of class that he would pause to check if the coast was clear. Then we chased Chaz as he nailed the three tricks in the hallway.

As we approached the third trick, Gus and I worked it out that so that he would slam on his breaks. This essentially propelled me off the golf cart at the speed it was moving and I continued the chase for the next 100’ or so on foot. This gave Gus enough time to throw the golf cart in reverse and back up beyond the bend in the hallway.

Finally, the big trick. For me, there wasn’t much to it… I just needed to make sure the camera was pointed in the right direction. I would have felt terrible had I missed even one take. Sure enough I was in place for every one!

The original vision for the shot at this point was to then follow Chaz as he walked across the school lawn back to the car that was picking him up. For logistical reasons I thought this was going to be difficult, and not really pay off. So I suggested that especially at this moment of climax it would be so extremely cool if he hit that rail, landed and walked a couple steps right into his car. Colin & Steve weren’t sold, so I showed them and sold the idea. I think it really punctuates the video nicely.

I’d like to give credit to for having conceived such an application for Steadicam. is owned by a couple skateboard legends, one of whom is Steve Berra. Steve is not only an accomplished skateboarder, but a gifted filmmaker. His film “The Good Life” with Bill Paxton was featured at the Sundance Film Festival in 2007. I’m not sure if the shot was Steve’s idea (Steve acted as EP on the job), or the director’s, Collin Kenedy… but nonetheless it was a cool idea to approach a skateboard video this way! I got involved with the job through Patrice Cochet, the DP for the spot and whom I’ve worked with for years now. He was the cinematographer on Steve Berra’s Sundance Pic.

Thanks to all those in the Steadicam community for taking notice, and for your kind words regarding this piece.

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