Fast, cheesy and all downhill: Decode shoots the annual Gloucester Cheese Rolling

Decode's Photron Fastcam
Neal Romanek
Case Study
June 15th 2016 at 11:19AM : By Neal Romanek

Decode was tasked with capturing high speed footage of the annual Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling contest

London camera and equipment hire company Decode was recently commissioned by a Mexican film production company to shoot the annual Gloucester Cheese rolling event at Coopers Hill in Gloucestershire on a high speed camera. 

The Gloucestershire annual Cheese Rolling event involves contestants rolling and chasing very large Double Gloucester cheeses down a very steep hill in the Gloucestershire countryside. The local tradition has taken place annually since 1826. Until this year, no one had been able to watch this sport in super slow motion. Decode chose to film using their Photron Fastcam high speed camera.

For Decode the job wasn’t free of challenges as there are only 4 runs and before you blink the event is over. Also the hill has a 1:1 gradient in some places and a very rough and uneven surface. However, Decode devised a workflow that allowed the data to be captured and downloaded on location in real time so that the camera could capture all 4 runs comfortably.

The film producers requested close ups of the participants tumbling and rolling down, so Decode used their new GL Optics Canon FD 200mm and 300mm T2.8 primes to position the camera at the bottom of the hill, in the heart of the action with tumblers falling towards the camera at great speed enabling the camera crew to successfully capture all the excitement and drama of the day.

Decode Photron Fastcam

The footage was shot at 500fps, with a shutter of 1/1000 which allowed up to 11 seconds of burst capture with the Photron Fastcam at 1080P. The footage was then played back from the camera’s internal RAM and recorded in Pro Res HQ to an Atomos Shogun recorder in HD. This process, part of a pre-designed workflow, was done very quickly in order to re-frame at the top of the hill and be ready for the next wave of brave participants.

The footage was downloaded on set directly to a MacBook Pro and then uploaded to a secure Dropbox account, allowing the editors in Mexico City to download and begin their editing work to run the cover locally within hours of the event finishing. 

The Mexican production team said “We were stunned by the quality of the footage provided by Decode and their team. We recognise that this is a very tricky event to capture. They managed to select the best equipment and devised a strong plan for a difficult event.” Says Raul Ortega, the Mexican commissioner.

Tony Shocash from Decode said “This was a fabulous project for us to undertake and we enjoyed the challenge of using our leading edge equipment to its limits and pushing our own skills to ensure we got the best coverage for our client.”