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Hollywood Bigwigs Shower Praise on Creators of Minnesota Bowling Alley Drone Video

MARCH 12, 2021

A single-take video shot with a drone flying through a Minnesota bowling alley has been hailed as "stupendous" by a string of celebrities and big-name film-makers.

The near 90-second video titled Right Up Our Alley — filmed and produced at night on March 2 by Rally Studios — begins outside where the drone swoops in from across the street and through the doors of Bryant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis.

From there, the drone flies in and around bowlers in the lanes and drinkers at the bar, going in between legs and into the back compartment where the bowling pins are swept up and set up and all around — all in one shot.

It finishes with something of a cliffhanger (SPOILER: No drones were seriously harmed in the making of the video).

The video has since been shared widely on social media and earned plaudits from some of Hollywood's biggest names.

Lee Unkrich, who directed the Pixar animated feature Coco, said it was "one of the most amazing things I've ever seen".

"Jaw on the floor," he said in a tweet.

Todd Vaziri, a visual effects artist who has worked on Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel and Transformers films and Avatar, tweeted: "This kind of wonderful photographic innovation adds to the language and vocabulary of cinema. Just beautiful."

Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn said the shot was "stupendous" and "incredible" and he wanted the creators to join the production crew on Guardians of the Galaxy 3 in London later this year.

Meanwhile, Lord of the Rings actor Elijah Wood retweeted the video with just a two-word comment: "HOLY SHIT."

The video's director, Anthony Jaska, said some people were sceptical that the video was shot in a single take.

"It is a true one-take," Jaska said.

"There's no CGI. That was kind of interesting. But also the positive nature of it — people seeing the skill that it takes and the unique ability it takes to combine the skill of an amazing pilot, the technology of a drone, and the story that can actually be told through a one-take."

The studio said it took about 10 to 12 attempts over about two hours before they had the perfect take.

Due to the typical buzzing sound produced by a drone, the team added audio to the video in post-production.

Among the sounds are the balls rolling and striking pins, conversations among bowlers that include references to The Big Lebowski — the 90s cult classic Coen brothers film that largely takes place in a bowling alley — beer glasses clinking at a table, and more.

First-person view (FPV) drones are generally smaller and lighter than other camera drones and the pilots control them wearing virtual reality-style goggles.

The film's aerial director of photography, Jay Christensen, said he visited the bowling alley the day before to scope out the scene and mentally prepare for his flight path.

He's been flying drones since 2014 when, he said, the footage was "terrible." But now the innovation continues to improve.

"Now it's to the point where you're able to see a live view of what the drone sees and it's really small and it can fit through these small spaces and see the whole scene inside and out in one shot and that really can be a great way to tell a story," Christensen said.

The two filmmakers said the goal was to remind people of local businesses like Bryant Lake Bowl, that are the heart of communities and are in need of support as the coronavirus pandemic, and as accompanying public health measures ease, allowing people to return to bars, restaurants, and, of course, bowling alleys.

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