Simon Sjörén's Epic Trail Video Series
25 Jun 2014
Simon Sjörén works as a freelance photographer in Åre, in the north of Sweden. In summer, people come here for all the usual outdoor activities - hiking, fishing and so on. But the mountain of Åreskutan that rises from the foot of the village gives you some 900 vertical meters of pure happiness in the form of Åre Bike Park! You just take your bike, step on the gondola and 10 minutes later you’re at top of the world and ready to rip down the flowy trails to the village.
Simon is a passionate rider himself, and last summer he took on a special project - bringing his hexacopter camera drone up on the mountain to film his friends while biking. This camera/drone combination is powered by battery, has 6 propellers, lifts about 1.5 kg of camera payload, and can be airborne for about 15 minutes before needing a change of batteries. It can reach a speed of around 40 mph and the range of flying is around 500m to 1 km. To see exactly what’s being filmed by the on board camera there's a real-time video link to a ground monitor. This equipment makes it possible to get some pretty amazing sequences, starting a shot at 1-2 meters away from the rider basically taking steady cam shots, and in the same sequence end up with an aerial view from 50 m in height. An amazing tool for bringing more speed and a new perspective to mountain bike film making.
The team spent a couple of weeks gathering both aerial footage and ground-based shots from the downhill trails and also some nearby cross country trails. The task of bringing the camera drone out in the field and up on the mountain proved to be a challenge. As there’s a lot of ground to cover in filming a whole sequence of a trail, from top to bottom, you want to be quick in setting up and packing up, all the equipment. To make this work Simon had a custom light weight drone made with fold-able arms and a detachable camera gimbal. This way he could ride down the trails with the drone strapped to his backpack, or sometimes just holding it in one hand with the other one on the handle bars!
The final output of all this hard work is 3 separate video edits featuring 3 specific trails. The first one is the Shimano Trail, similar to Whistler's A-line with machine built flow including jumps, gaps, berms and and few bridges. The second one is from Blanktjärn - an area of small unique purple lakes out in the wilderness, just outside the village Åre, with nice long single track trails that track over ridgelines and through small creeks and marshlands. Finishing off the trilogy is Åre's Easy Rider trail, which starts off at 1300 above sea level and takes you down through a high alpine environment with rocks, boulders and a breathtaking views surrounding you.
There is something unique with the light up in northern Sweden in the summer months, and at certain times of year the sun never sets. This is a photographers dream, meaning you actually have the ”golden hour” for many many hours! A lot of this material was captured close to midnight and could be achieved when nobody else was on the trails allowing for long takes without anyone else getting in the way. So sit back, press play and prepare yourself for some truly magical Åre mountain biking captured in a very unique way...
Biking Åre #1 - Shimano DH Trail
Riders: Daniel Pettersson, Joel Söderström
Biking Åre #2 - XC Blanktjärn
Riders: Hanna Ovin, Kristian Hartman
Biking Åre #3 - Easy Rider DH Trail
Riders: Daniel Pettersson, Janne Tjärnström
To see more of Simon's video and image catalog, check out his website at www.sjoren.se.