Capturing HD Video Footage
March 7, 2014 | 17:50
By Scot Henley, Executive Director
While the primary storyline of our new mountaintop museum is the mountain's extraordinarily awful weather, one exhibit in particular requires video footage captured on a good visibility day. The 6th of March was one of those rare bluebird Mount Washington days. Bright sunshine, moderate temperatures and little wind made for an ideal day to do some shooting for Extreme Mount Washington.

Documentarian Tom Guilmette of Franklin, Mass., whose work you will find sprinkled throughout the newly-renovated museum, paid us another visit with one mission to accomplish: capture video footage of a descent down the mountain from the snow-cat operator's perspective. That footage is absolutely critical, since it will be used to bring one of Extreme Mount Washington's most innovative exhibits to life.

You might think that this would be an easy thing to do, especially since we make several runs up and down the mountain in winter. The truth is that this particular shoot has been very difficult to accomplish. Fog, flat light, snow, white outs, schedule conflicts, too much snow, not enough snow, too much wind... It was beginning to feel like Mount Washington and Mother Nature were conspiring against us.

Using a high-tech mounting system and an even higher-tech camera, Tom sat alongside operator Slim Bryant in the cockpit of the Observatory's Bombardier BR275 snow machine and captured video for a good portion of the day. Utilizing very specific instructions from museum designers at Jeff Kennedy Associates and on-site guidance from Director of Education Michelle Cruz, Tom staged a superb shoot.

The footage will be used in Extreme Mount Washington's snow-cat exhibit, where visitors will be able to sit in a simulated cockpit and pilot the machine down the mountain. What you will see through the simulated snow-cat windshield in the museum is exactly what Slim and Tom saw through the windshield on Thursday.

Executive Director Scot Henley was on hand to provide a speaking role during the shoot, but you'll never be able to tell. In order to give museum visitors the feeling of bitter winter cold during the simulated snow-cat descent, Michelle outfitted Scot in Arctic-grade gear, complete with goggles, a balaclava, a hat and a massive jacket with a fur-lined hood. Not a speck of skin was showing, which is our standard practice to avoid frostbite on bitterly cold days. On this beautiful March afternoon, however, we almost melted Scot!

Now the focus turns to the editing room, where the footage will be stitched together to provide summer visitors with a compelling, authentic winter snow-cat experience. If you've ever wanted to drive one, you'll be able to get a taste of what Slim and our operators experience when they're making that same descent down the mountain.

Extreme Mount Washington opens this spring in Mt. Washington State Park's Sherman Adams Visitors Center.

For more information about the project, including photos, illustrations and plans, visit here.