Framestore’s incredible Free Solo 360, a VR experience created in partnership with National Geographic and directors Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, was awarded the Creative Arts Emmy for Outstanding Creative Achievement In Interactive Media Within An Unscripted Program this weekend. Free Solo 360 was created as a companion piece to the Academy Award winning documentary Free Solo, which chronicled the harrowing expedition of free soloist climber Alex Honnold as he prepared to climb the 3,200-foot El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, without any ropes.
View the 360 film :
“We are enormously grateful to Jimmy, Chai, and [producer] Evan Hayes for picking us as their partners on the project’, says Creative Director Aron Hjartarson. “It was a privilege to work with them and National Geographic to use our technology to capture Alex’s monumental free solo ascent of El Cap. We’re thrilled to have documented his journey which continues to inspire us to excel at every level”. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards were held on September 14-15 in LA at the Microsoft Theater, and will air on September 21st on FXX and the 71st Annual Primetime Emmys will air on Sept. 22nd on Fox.
Free Solo 360 puts viewers in Honnold’s shoes, and on the mountain, as he embarks on his journey and this marks Framestore’s 14th Emmy award. The record-breaking climb was re-created for the 360° short film to give users the full experience of climbing alongside Honnold. Virtually standing in his place, viewers are placed at Yosemite and ascend the granite monolith with him. For the feature documentary, Chin spent nearly three years climbing the route with Honnold. To prepare for the 360° film Chin and DP Justin Bastien worked several days on El Cap (with proper safety measures), placing cameras in the right locations and anchoring tripods up to 3,000 feet above the valley floor on the sheer granite wall. Despite the unique challenges this project faced, the climb proved to be a natural fit for a 360° storytelling approach.
Aron Hjartarson, executive creative director at Framestore, reflected on the experience: “It can be tricky in traditional filmmaking to portray a good sense of scale and context, but it’s all there in the 360° footage. You are transported thousands of feet above the ground, hanging out with Alex as he weaves his way upwards, with the beauty of Yosemite National Park spread out below and reaching to the horizon. It was also a great project to play with the emergent art of 360° cinematography, using camera moves to add drama to the piece and lead the point of interest around the environment.”
Using the right equipment was critical for the shoot: because the team was limited by its locale and the accessibility of its gear, everything had to work perfectly every time. The team relied on Framestore’s expedition rig to provide the quality and modularity necessary.
Post-production required a meticulous process. Vasarhelyi spent months perfecting the film, to create a sense of realism that evokes a physical and emotional response from viewers. The Framestore team worked primarily in Nuke but employed custom tools for assembly and editing, as well as Maya for some camera projection setups. Additionally, the 360° tools in Premiere enabled the editorial team to orient the action in a continuous way and lead viewers around the frame.
Framestore also completed the film’s sound, music, and color. Peter Timberlake, who created the short’s music, played with several approaches to find the right sound. He explained: “I found the best-fitting approach to be an intense, extreme approach, meant to capture Alex’s struggle, while shuffling-in orchestral instruments intended to embody the naturalism and scale of the landscape.”
Free Solo (the main film) also won in other categories such as Outstanding Picture Editing for a Nonfiction Program and Outstanding Music Composition for a Documentary Series or Special.
Other Emmy Wins
Congrats to all the Creative Arts Winners and Nominees.
Outstanding Special Visual Effects
Game of Thrones “The Bells” earned its seventh Emmy in special visual effects.
Game of Thrones has won the category each consecutive year since its second nomination in 2012, (with the exception of 2017, when the show wasn’t eligible). The award was for the episode The Bells
- Joe Bauer, Lead Visual Effects Supervisor
- Steve Kullback, Lead Visual Effects Producer
- Adam Chazen, Visual Effects Associate Producer
- Sam Conway, Special Effects Supervisor
- Mohsen Mousavi, Visual Effects Supervisor
- Martin Hill, Visual Effects Supervisor
- Ted Rae, Visual Effects Plate Supervisor
- Patrick Tiberius Gehlen, Previs Lead
- Thomas Schelesny, Visual Effects and Animation Supervisor
Outstanding Special Visual Effects In A Supporting Role
Chernobyl, “1:23:45” HBO, HBO Miniseries and SKY in association with Word Games, The Mighty Mint and Sister Pictures
- Max Dennison, Overall VFX Supervisor: DNEG
- Lindsay McFarlane, Overall VFX Producer
- Claudius Christian Rauch, SFX Supervisor
- Clare Cheetham, VFX Producer: DNEG
- Laura Bethencourt Montes, VFX Line Producer: DNEG
- Steven Godfrey, CG Supervisor: DNEG
- Luke Letkey, 2D Supervisor: DNEG
- Christian Waite, FX Supervisor: DNEG
- William Foulser, Environments Supervisor: DNEG
Outstanding Short Form Animated Program
Love, Death & Robots, “The Witness” . Netflix, Blur Studio
Outstanding Individual Achievement In Animation
Age of Sail
Outstanding Animated Program
The Simpsons, “Mad About The Toy”Fox, Gracie Films in association with 20th Century Fox Television
Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Limited Series, Movie or Special
Star Trek: Discovery, “If Memory Serves”CBS (CBS All Access), CBS Television Studios
- Glenn Hetrick, Special Makeup Effects Department Head
- James Mackinnon, Special Makeup Effects Department Head
- Hugo Villasenor, Special Makeup Effects Artist
- Rocky Faulkner, Special Makeup Effects Artist
- Chris Bridges, Special Makeup Effects Artist
- Nicola Bendrey, Special Makeup Effects Artist
- Mike O’Brien, Prosthetic Designer
- Neville Page, Prosthetic Designer
Outstanding Main Title Design
Game Of Thrones HBO, HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; 360 Television/Startling Television
- Angus Wall, Creative Director
- Kirk Shintani, Art Director
- Shahana Khan, Lead Compositor
- Ian Ruhfass, 3D Lead
- Rustam Hasanov, Lead Conceptual Designer