Nitto Battle of the Streets

It’s no secret I love cars. And helicopters. Once in a while my job allows me to play with both. That was certainly the case with our recent project for Nitto Tire. We had a lot of fun.

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Nitto wanted to produce a series of videos that could release in conjunction with the NCAA March Madness tournament. Our solution was to pick 16 of our favorite super cars and pit them against each other in the ultimate drag racing extravaganza. I didn’t want to repeat what so many had done before and shoot at a drag strip, I wanted this to feel larger than life. So, we decided to shut down the iconic 6th street bridge in downtown LA. The bridge has been used in dozens of movies including Terminator, Grease, and The Mask. Due to the structural integrity of the bridge, it was scheduled for demolition in a few months. That meant we needed to move fast.

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Our 6am call time had us ready to shoot the cars as the sun broke the horizon. The cars glistened in all of their super car glory as the golden-lit skyline served as our majestic backdrop. Good thing we had six RED Dragon cameras and a Phantom Flex 4K slow motion camera on set to capture it all.

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Oh, and a bonus 7-Dragon camera virtual reality rig.

IMG_7192 All of the content produced on this project had to be delivered in 4K (roughly four times the resolution of HD) so we went all out in the camera department. It’s hard to keep it all straight when you have so many cameras and operators. Thanks to Schneider lenses, we had some additional Cine Xenar III lenses including their new 14mm for the ultra wide shots.

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Then there was this beast. The Phantom Flex 4K. The ultimate camera in cinematic slow motion. It’s no surprise that it’s rare to work with this camera since it costs more than some people’s homes (and nice homes at that). It was our first time with this bad boy and it sure didn’t disappoint. 1,000 frames per second at a 4K resolution looks pretty amazing!

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The first half of the day focused on the beautiful details that made each car unique. We had to shoot 16 cars so we split up into two teams to cover it all in time.

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Each car was so unique and had so much to offer. My favorite was the Ferrari 458 Italia, followed closely by the McLaren 650S simply because of its unwavering dedication to performance. And of course the butterfly doors.

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The Nissan GTR and Lamborghini Aventador (minus the color) were also notable mentions.

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Although I didn’t get to drive many of the cars, I did get to take a spin in Ernie Mansala’s monster 700hp Nissan GTR, aptly named “Goliath.”

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RED Digital Cinema was out on set as well (Bringing the total EPIC camera count to a whopping 15). They came to shoot a “behind the scenes” feature on Sweatpants Media. I’m always more comfortable behind the camera, but once in a while I have to stumble my way through being “Talent”.

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After lunch, it was time to get wild. The helicopter was seriously badass. It flew in like Schwarzenegger on a bald eagle, cuing us to line up millions of dollars worth of cars and push them to their limits on the closed bridge. Andy Bell, his brother Matt Bell, stunt driver Riley Harper, and Armik Aghakhani had the best jobs of the day. Those jerks made me jealous every time they pulled up to the starting line.

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 Our helicopter pilot did all of the flight coordinating for the Marvel Avengers movie, so he was about as good as it gets. We talked through some serious flight patterns and he nailed them all. My absolute favorite was when he rose up from below the bridge to reveal the entire field of super cars. I felt like I was shooting a Michael Bay movie!

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One by one, the cars raced each other down the bridge in pursuit of the coveted “Battle of the Streets” championship title. There were a few upsets that we didn’t expect, but that’s what makes it fun!

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12 hours after we first called “action,” it all came down to a sunset championship race between the Porsche GT3 and the McLaren 650S. It was a tight race and we were all on the edge of our seats, but it was the McLaren that took the win as the fastest car of the day. I guess that’s what you get with a $280,000 price tag.

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A huge thanks to our crew that sweat their faces off in the 100° heat. As always, DP Alex Jacobs and his team nailed the visuals. Dave Phelps, Adam Hagaman, and Chris Dallas-Feeney put together some pretty amazing edits after many late nights of slaving away in their editing caves.

Watch the video below

Cars provided by:

Car Ninja

GI Motorspors

BBI Autosport

Kolab Agency

Photography by:

Carlos Ro Photo

– Jonny

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