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Production Breakdown: Southern Power - Skookumchuck Wind Facility & The Power of Green Energy

By Gavin Pease


The E7 team has just added another documentary to our repertoire, and the reminiscing has already begun for us on one of our most breathtaking cinematic journeys for 2021.

In this piece we introduce Southern Power's own Skookumchuck Wind Facility, The Pacific Northwest is host to this one-of-a-kind harvesting facility for renewable energy, and we jumped at the opportunity to showcase a project with such an important impact, right in our own backyard. Element 7 was recruited to tell the story of the facility, and the far-reaching effects of its output on the Greater Seattle Area.


Our main voices are K-Rob Thomas, Vice President of Origination and Acquisitions, and Misty Blizzard, Director of Commercial Optimization and Trading. Both representatives deliver insights about the Skookumchuck Facility, as well as commentary about how Southern Power is building meaningful relationships and purposeful change.


Methods to the Madness


We kicked off the project with a dedicated drone day and some assistance from the amazing local Zephyr Visuals team and their DJI Inspire 2. After a day in the mountains, we had amassed enough breathtaking aerial footage to get us chomping at the bit to start in on our core production days.


Typically we have one shooter operating our Ronin rig, responsible for covering the Wide Shots and Scene Establishers. Our second shooter is on a roaming handheld, picking off any emotional Tight Shots and Key Inserts with our Sony 70-200mm lens. For our onsite shoot days at the wind facility we scaled up to add a third camera and get as much coverage as possible. We decided on shooting with Sony cameras as the Cinema Line FX Series has become our go-to ecosystem. Namely the FX3, FX6, and FX9 were our workhorses.



This was our first travel gig as a full Element 7 unit, so the whole team was eager to pack their bags and set off to deliver on our months of pre-production and story shaping. We approached our shooting days with all hands on deck; totaling 3 Shooters, a Production Assistance, and our Production Manager holding down the fort from our Airbnb.


And thus our two long and exciting production days at the Skookumchuck site began. Filming massive turbines on cliffside vistas and beautiful interviews in the shadow of Mount Rainier was a dream. As each scene unfolded in front of us we all knew what kind of an impactful and impressive story we were helping to tell.



Getting On The Grid



Many forward-thinking corporations and municipalities are making a strong push towards lasting sustainability for our planet. The Green Direct Program is a prime avenue to achieving sustainability goals for Seattle companies. Founded by Puget Sound Energy, this initiative aggregates customers with shared clean energy goals to commit to purchasing renewable energy, and allows a project like this to come to fruition. PSE is in partnership to deliver the production of the Skookumchuck Wind Facility to over 40 different clients who have signed on to participate in The Green Direct Program, including big fish like T-Mobile, Sound Transit, and many more. This portion of our story took us back to the bustling streets we call home, and we scheduled shoots to meet our featured energy clients on their turf.


T-Mobile's Headquarters, located in Bellevue, was first up. We spent a day at the complex interviewing their Vice President of Social Impact & Sustainability, Brigitta Witt. She tells of the Telecommunications Giant's bold and novel goal of reaching 100% power from renewable energy. A target she says they "are well on their way to achieving by the end of [2021]". We also made it into one of their stores to shoot some customer interactions and help bring the story home to the viewer.


Next was Seattle's local Sound Transit, a provider of all types of vital transit services to the Puget Sound region. Sound Transit is revolutionizing the transportation of the Greater Seattle Area through the construction and expansion of their LightRail service. Jessica Rose, Sound Transit's Utilities and Resource Conservation Manager, tells about how the Green Direct Program has helped to enable its LightRail service to run on "100% carbon-free energy. The first major light rail system in the nation to do so".


Both of these one-day excursions were executed by our typical complimentary two-shooter documentary method. Both shoots were accomplished with a tandem duo of Sony FX Series cameras (FX6 on Ronin M & FX9 Handheld for T-Mobile and FX3 on Ronin RS2 & FX6 Handheld for Sound Transit).


Up In The Air


As a bonus to our shooting days, we felt the need to take to the skies. There was an unmatched perspective that aerials would give to the piece, and visions we had that a drone just couldn't do justice. So, we called up an old friend: Take, a helicopter pilot based south of Seattle. He took us up in his small tour helicopter and we were chasing Sound Transit trains up and down the railways. With a few circles around downtown we had our city coverage in the bag too.


After our particularly windy ride, let's just say we were thankful for Davinci Resolve's astounding image stabilization. With that, we were back in the studio to bring the piece across the finish line.



Post-Production


Any video with 5 unique voices and sides to the story prevents a challenge in creating a direct thread to follow for viewers. Luckily, our thorough questioning and well-spoken subjects eased this process and we were able to transition from rolling hills of Skookumchuck to the dense skyscrapers of Seattle without a problem.


This was our first documentary piece that we set out to cut in Davinci Resolve, after our recent switch from Premiere Pro. It's a decision that we haven't thought twice about since, as it's allowing us an unmatched internal workflow. Jumping from timeline editing to GFX creation with Fusion, to finishing with the incredible color suite, and back again without skipping a beat has really upped the efficiency for our team.


With an edit in tact we reached out to some of our most-trusted post-production collaborators. Ryan Miller, of Siren Sound, was first on our list as he joined in on Element 7's prior production for 'Fluke Industries - Pete's Story'. Ryan once again composed a brilliant score to set the tone, and complimented by Paul Miller's (Paul Miller Audio) lively sound design, the Skookumchuck Wind Facility was truly brought to life.



That's A Wrap


It has been an amazing opportunity to produce a documentary-style video for a pertinent global issue such as the Climate Change Crisis.


Be sure to check out the finalized piece, and learn about how the Skookumchuck Wind Facility is helping to shape the future of clean energy for the Pacific Northwest.



#sustainability #energy #pnw #seattlevideoproduction #element7



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