Wolverhampton-based creative filmmakers and aerial specialists Skies Untold have released their latest film, which depicts the raw beauty and natural spectacle of winter across Iceland like never before.
Titled ‘Ísland’, the short begins above the Nordic country’s Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. Without even the faintest whisper of wind, the filmmaking duo capture the blue skies ahead reflected perfectly below like a gigantic mirror.
Viewers are then taken on a journey across Iceland, stopping for breathtaking overhead shots of Seljalandsfoss and Brúarfoss waterfalls, the Vatnajökull glacier at Skaftafell, and the lighthouse at Arkanes, built in 1918 and one of the oldest concrete structures of its kind in the country.
Along the way, the aerial photography and cinematography experts take audiences along deserted highways, swoop among smouldering geysers and halt for close-ups of a herd of wild horses.
The spectacle is heightened by the film’s almost three-dimensional quality, achieved through combining camera movement with foreground and background elements, creating a parallax effect that brings depth to each frame.
Skies Untold was set up by fully certified and insured drone pilot Alex Hatfield, who has been building multicopters in his spare time since 2010. Born and raised in Wolverhampton he met his partner, Ina Krombholz from Berlin, Germany, while she was studying for her Masters in Graphic Design at the University of Wolverhampton, and they both discovered a mutual passion for aerial cinematography.
Ina Krombholz, Camera Operator and Editor, Skies Untold, said: “We have wanted to visit Iceland for some time. Seeing the it for the first time feels like stepping onto an alien planet that is still in the process of forming; the black sands, endless lava fields, jagged cliffs, waterfalls, glaciers and yellow green moss that carpets huge swathes of land. It feels raw and beautifully unfinished. What better place to film?”
Both aged 27, Alex and Ina work at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre as a Stage Technician and Dresser respectively, while Ina also has her own successful jewellery business.
Alex Hatfield, Founder and Head Pilot, Skies Untold, said: “On complex shoots where I need to concentrate entirely on flying, Ina operates the camera. There are two controllers, one operates the drone and the other controls the camera settings and direction independently. Ina is gifted with a camera and really has an eye for macro photography.
“If she isn't operating the camera she is busy acting as my spotter, keeping the take-off and landing areas clear in case of emergency, and speaking with the inevitable curious passers-by. Ina is also responsible for any design elements within Skies Untold, which includes the website, our logo, business cards, flyers and the like.”
Regarding their Iceland expedition, most aerial footage is filmed during the spring or summer, but Skies Untold wanted to capture the Scandinavian country’s winter from the air, using their trusty unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) – or drone – which they have affectionately named ‘Gertrude’. As a result, the filmmakers often struggled with the gruelling weather conditions during the seven days they spent there in March this year.
Alex Hatfield, Founder and Head Pilot, Skies Untold, added: “They really aren't joking when they say the weather is entirely unpredictable in Iceland! This made filming difficult and we weren't able to shoot a lot of the things we had planned prior to the trip. Due to this, a lot of the locations shot aren't the usual tourist spots.
“They are smaller things we just happened across and took advantage of whilst driving the main A roads around the island. We stopped and filmed where and when we could, if the weather allowed. I'm sure these places have names, but a lot of the time they weren't signposted.
“Furthermore, due to Iceland’s latitude and ground make up, magnetic interference can prove to be problematic when flying drones. Gertrude has a digital compass which it uses to stabilise and orientate itself, and this would often fail, requiring sequences to be reshot or abandoned. However, we persevered throughout the shoot and I think the end results were more than worth the struggle.”
Following the success of ‘Ísland,’ which has been featured on Vimeo’s travel category, the duo’s next project will seem them undertake more coastal filming around the UK, as well as explore more of continental Europe in the near future.