FILMING A TIRE

Troy Hartman, John Hamilton, and I flew for director, Brian Bleak to make a fifteen second commercial showcasing Winston Tire’s new treads and rims.  Our problem out the gate was not knowing a thing about how tires fall at terminal velocity, so we decided a test day was needed to iron out fall rate, stability, and so on.

On day one, the test day, I drove to Lake Elsinore and met first thing in the morning with Scott Christensen to pick up small pilot chutes to help stabilize the tires.   My theory was that if the tires were heavy on the bottom with drag on the top, they would fall vertically.  Tires roll vertically and are normally seen that way, so that’s how we wanted them to fall.  I thought of spinning them out the door so that they’d look like they were rolling in the air, but we needed to see the logos, so spinning was out.

The test tires were waiting at the drop zone when I got there.  John Hamilton, Karl (DZ owner) and I flew to altitude with the first one.  We’d attached the first pilot chute to the tire by monofiliment line so that it could easily be erased in post editing.  John threw the tire and released the pilot chute just after.   The line snapped right out the door and the tire was on it’s own.  It started with a super fast fall rate and then eased into a slow tumble that accelerated faster and faster until it was flipping in front of me at over 200 rpms.  It was almost a blur, but it sat in one place and I was able to fly up close to it.  Pretty cool way to see a tire, but far from the controlled tire we needed.
To keep a short story from getting long, we ironed out the problems during the day and John and I became expert tire guys.  The next day when the production crew arrived, we were good to go.  The “hero” tires were rigged and shined up to a glossy finish and we jammed through six jumps filming every angle with fly bys, barrel rolls, orbiting, even a tydy bowl.  Meanwhile, Troy Hartman was setting up his tire with bindings for tire surf jumps.

Troy and I did four jumps together with his rigged tire.  Amazingly, the tire held up after each jump and Troy never had to change his bindings over to another wheel.  In four jumps, he was doing twisting layouts, front and back flips, helicopters, and orbiting grips with me for some really cool angles.  We were heroes on this project, but had we not practiced the day before, we’d have been just getting our act together by the end of the day.  Overall, a great shoot, and should make for a fun commercial.