As night falls, paragliding pilot Jean-Baptiste Chandelier takes us on a magical, highly-technical, and truly unique ride, with the great outdoors illuminated through an incredible light show. Take a look!
The “Flying Lights” idea was to play with lighting and create a magical setting in a way that we had never been able to do before.
Night vision was the biggest challenge when making this film. Visual reference points are extremely important when paragliding. If blinded in any way, we no longer know what is going on or where we are headed… So we had to light up both the mountains and the lake. The lights had a starry-sky effect, except from below instead of above. It was difficult to see the terrain relief or the surface of the lake. When in the air, I was able to light up where I was flying, but not much else. Luckily, I had an extremely high-powered headlamp; it was incredible!
Knowing the terrain like the backs of our hands
I know Lake Pontet and the surrounding area well. Without prior knowledge, we would have had to spend a lot more daylight hours planning and rehearsing the flight lines and maneuvers. I repeated maneuvers before the shoot to see to what extent I could play with the elements, what I needed to pay attention to, and to assess the height needed to complete moves like the ground-level 360. This was the most delicate maneuver of all. I had to trust my instincts and my altimeter when we started filming. The entire crew was ready and we were able to shoot the maneuver in a single take. Relieved that everything went perfectly and as planned, I’ll admit that I was not really looking forward to a second take, with the risk of skimming the cold water or even taking the big plunge into the lake!
Playing with the lighting
I liked the idea of using balloon lights to recreate the 3D component of paragliding. The floating aspect perfectly embodied the wind. In addition, like a kid with a new toy, I wanted to play around with this type of movement. It was a great way to outline the mountains and the lake, providing a sense of volume and using the lights to create a magical wonderland.
3 days to complete the shoot
The longest and most tedious aspect was preparing the balloons: blowing them up, attaching them with fishing line, positioning them, keeping them from flying away… or reminding kids in the area, so ecstatic to have found balloons in the mountains, to bring them back! In the end, we needed 8 people for three hours to set up the shoot, and almost just as many to pack up more than 200 headlamps… A logistical adventure we enjoyed 3 nights in a row. Thank god we had electric bikes to transport all of our gear!
Pics credits: Julien Nadiras