What’s the difference between a National Park and a National Forest? Drones. The National Park Service banned drones several years ago after tourists proved time and time again that they couldn’t be trusted with them. But no such ban exists in the National Forests — at least, not yet — which gives filmmakers a way to capture the immensity of these locations with stunning results.
This isn’t just about having some pretty pictures to look at; the Forest Service manages nearly 200 million acres of public lands, but getting the public to actually pay attention and care isn’t always easy. To bring renewed attention to how these lands are used, the Forest Service knew it would need more than a pamphlet — much more. Its new campaign, called Your Forests Your Future, looks to build an audience across new types of media, including a podcast, video series, and eventually a VR experience. The Bridger-Teton (below) and Dixie National Forest (above) videos are the first two in a planned 155-episode series exploring every National Forest — that’s no small undertaking.
To accomplish it, the Forest Service turned to veteran outdoor filmmakers Will and Jim Pattiz, brothers who have been working tirelessly on their own video project documenting the National Parks (sans drones, but still with gorgeous results). The Pattiz brothers were accustomed to working long hours for weeks at a time in the wilderness, so they were a natural fit for the Your Forests Your Future campaign.
What was new to them, however, was the ability to use a drone. “The great part about working with the Forest Service is that we can use drones, and it really allows us to make these films so much better and more representative,” Jim Pattiz told Digital Trends. “We used the [DJI] Inspire 2 for the aerials, which is an amazing tool (when it works!).”
The Inspire 2 wasn’t the only camera in the brothers’ arsenal, however. Time-lapse sequences were captured with the Sony A7R II, while most of the realtime video was shot on a Blackmagic Design URSA Mini. They have also since picked up a DJI Mavic 2 Pro, which they say doesn’t match the image quality of the Inspire 2, but is both more versatile and reliable. When we spoke with Jim Pattiz for this article, he and Will were already on location for the third video in the series. They’re not wasting a minute producing the next 153 videos.