Imagine flying like a red-tailed hawk over the Niagara River, its aquamarine waters undulating endlessly as you soar through the air.
Executive producer Mitch Azaria says that’s the idea Tripping off Niagara, A three-hour documentary showing the Niagara region using drones to simulate the flight of a falcon.
“When you see this movie as either a Canadian or someone from Ontario, I think you leave it with more sense of pride in the place you think you know, but then you realize [it’s] Azaria said.
He said the immersive documentary follows the pattern of an inquisitive falcon, exploring historical forts, vineyards, botanical gardens and orchards off the river, as well as an exploration of powerful Whitewater Falls.
It’s premiering on TVO on Friday at 7 PM ET, and will be available to broadcast on TVO’s website or YouTube channel.
This is the second episode, Good Earth Productions, to be presented by the production company. The first explored the Rideau Canal, allowing viewers to board a 1948 mahogany boat and float for four hours along the waterway. A media release reported that it was seen by 1.2 million people in Ontario.
“He gave people a chance to take time off while they were still at home,” Azaria said. “No novel, no music. You watched it as we saw it.”
With viewers appearing to appear in the sky at this documentary, Azaria – a seven-time Hot Docs Award winner and Gemini nominee – said the creative team believes there’s no better place than Niagara.
“This enchanting excursion is the only tour of its kind, and it is a unique way to visit the Niagara region, especially during an epidemic,” said Jane Jankovi?, Executive producer of documentary films at TVO.
A hawk named a striker
Azaria said that given the abundance of red-tailed falcons that are native to the Niagara region, the team was drawn to working with the prolific raptors.
The crew studied a hawk with the show’s name Striker – his real name is Stickers due to his habit of taking a subtle false start. The hawk shepherd dealt with the perilous task of giving a food reward – sufficient to return, but not to the point of making her lazy.
Azaria said that repeating the Stryker flight with drones was a huge challenge, as they needed to fly for 18 consecutive minutes without any “hindrances” along the way.
While the normal process of operating a drone in this way will involve two operators – a dance between a pilot charting the road and a photographer capturing the footage – it won’t take long to make some mistakes.
Shooting from cliffs
Azaria credits Peter Warren, director of photography and entertainment pilot himself, as the only person who can achieve this smooth, not-lit effect on his own.
The flight found crew firing a jet boat on one of the fastest-moving rivers in the world, flying drones from noisy cliffs in a 17-story gorge between Niagara-on-the-Lake and the waterfalls.
Azaria said that the depth of the throttle would cause the drone to lose its thrust, and it would not have a hard surface to land on. When the drone came back, they had to catch it.
He said, “There is no other way to do this.” “There were moments where we all looked at each other and thought, ‘What are we really doing? “
“Niagara there is a lot.”
The movie also includes animated sequences of historical events, as well as some 160 dashboard pop-ups that present bits of knowledge.
Azaria said there is perhaps no more famous Canadian site around the world than Niagara Falls.
But for people from Ontario, he said, a trip to Niagara is often seen as seeing the falls – Horseshoe Falls, the American side of the falls and Bridal Veil Falls – and moving to the allure Clifton Hill.
He said the documentary shows the enormous diversity of the region. He also hopes that the behind-the-scenes stories enrich the audience’s experience and lead viewers to leave with a little more knowledge than they had before, even for those who consider Niagara their home.
Talk about viewers flying over vineyards, seeing something planted as far as they can see, and learning that it was once the bottom of the mineral-rich Lake Iroquois Lake.
He said taking a comprehensive look at the area allows people to get a “borderless” perspective.
“There is a lot to Niagara,” Azaria said.
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