HIGHSTEP is an encounter on the beach with rock climbers honing their craft and hanging out with friends. I was home for the holidays in Orange County, off to the tidal basin at Corona del Mar with my nephew to try out the new Filmpower Nebula 4000 Lite 3-axis brushless motorized gimbal stabilizer. Always on the lookout for character subjects, I ran into these climbers, and their friendly enthusiasm was the real thing. This video owes completely to their casual kindness: it was serendipitous to meet them, and to come up with this unplanned film within an hour on December 22, 2014.

No less, I caught some beautiful light flares from the setting sun that you just can’t stage. And I thought the stabilizer brought a revolutionary new capability to this sort of simplified backpack shoot, for total elegance of movement equivalent to large-scale productions that require hours of setup time with dolly tracks and jibs. That’s the essence of this small camera revolution: it’s been only a year since we got 10-bit 4:2:2 RAW capture in a film log color space at such a tiny profile in the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera (BMPCC). It’s the perfect match for the Nebula 4000: flying past online nerd fights (you wouldn’t believe) over firmware tuning and PID settings, it’s buttery smooth right out of the flight case after just a few minutes of physical balancing. I could have pushed the weight limits, mounting a Panasonic GH4, but then would have needed to hook up a heavy Atomos Shogun for capturing video quality equivalent to the BMPCC, defeating the purpose of the Nebula 4000’s miniature freedom of movement.

I am grateful to Moby for permission to use his cerebral tune “Look Back In,” while Silent Partner rounds things out with their aggressive “Armadillo.” Thanks to my nephew Aaron Richter for assisting on camera and pulling together the music. Thanks also to Filmpower for creating the Nebula 4000 Lite. And mostly, thanks to the climbers in this film for their inspiration.

For a quick look behind-the-scenes from this shoot, here’s the photo album from Flickr: