On Location with Wondercamp

Film production company Wondercamp is putting UBCO to work as a part of its production kit, with a crew of outdoor enthusiasts using the bikes to shoot documentaries and campaigns in the field.  

Based out of the big town of Seattle (and the small one of Bend, OR), film production company Wondercamp works in the outdoor and non-profit space with a range of clients such as outdoor brand REI Co-Op, running shoe brand Brooks, and the State of Washington. It produces work that often speaks to social justice, equity, and diversity in the great outdoors.  

The company’s longstanding relationship with REI has given it some of its most exciting projects, says cinematographer Greg Balkin. “We’ve gotten to do everything from branded documentaries — just over 40 minutes is our longest — to national campaigns that use original series’ we’ve developed. A lot of that deals with either athletes, or outdoor endeavours with normal people who are creating some kind of community around them — so there’s always a component of that. Whether it’s racial or environmental justice, there’s always a deeper meaning to the films we’re making.” 

One of the core passions that bonds the Wondercamp team is a shared love of the getting outside, says Greg. Filming can take place at the top of a mountain but, just as often, city streets that pose their own challenges, particularly when it comes to hefting equipment and keeping the camera stable enough to film a moving target.  

It was when filming runners for Brooks that Greg’s team first began using UBCO bikes, shooting a series across three different cities simultaneously.  

“We specifically design processes around crew and equipment that thrives outside in hard-to-reach places,” says Greg. “The dream configuration we’d seen elsewhere and tested on the UBCO had speed rail mounted on the sides. Then we hung a large camera, dangling off a stabiliser, mounted to a shock absorber arm, and then mounted to the speed railing. There was about $100K hanging off the back of that bike!”  

Greg had tried filming with e-bikes before, but he has found that the UBCO is the quickest to start, has the fastest takeoff speed, and is the most stable.  

 “Being able to absorb dips and bumps in the road or go over sidewalks, or just manoeuvre without worrying about something shaking loose or breaking from the jolt, that’s a huge bonus for filmmaking,” he says. “The form factor of how the bike sits and is balanced makes it easier to pile up — the kit weighs a lot and it’s all on the back, but it handles it fine.” 

 As well as the lack of carbon emissions that made the bike an obvious choice for a company with respect for the natural world at its heart, the reduction of noise and elimination of fumes has allowed the bike to seamlessly shadow athletes while they run or cycle without polluting their airspace or killing their concentration.  

 “Since purchasing the bikes, we’ve used them on bike trails in San Diego, running tracks and urban streets in San Francisco, and on grass trails in Chicago,” says Greg. “We’ve also ridden it through downtown Seattle filming cyclists who were going very fast, and every time it’s been great.” 

Watch Wondercamp's work, filmed using UBCO bikes:

Find more information about the great team at Wondercamp:

https://wondercamp.co   @wondercamp