Engineering the flawless, one-take drone bowling alley video.

Bryant Lake Bowl isn’t your typical bowling alley, and its one-take promo video is just as unusual as the eclectic, Minneapolis mainstay. In a word, it’s epic!

Filming a promo video involving multiple people requires forethought, planning, and timely execution. Every additional second and every additional person adds complexity. Often, multiple camera angles increase variety and enable multiple shots to be stitched together, making the scene flow while only needing to film a few seconds at a time.

Director Anthony Jaska from Rally Studios wanted to engineer a flawless, one-take drone bowling alley video without editing tricks, CGI, or multiple cameras. You have to see the video to believe it.

Setting the Scene

It’s late in the evening. Neon lights from Bryant Lake Bowl come into focus as an aerial drone shot descends viewers from the sky and flies them through the front door of the bowling alley. The camera zips smoothly down the classic bowling lanes, catching a scene of friends having a good time. 

In a jaw-dropping transition, expert drone pilot Jay Christensen squeezes the shot through an unbelievably small soffit to show the inner workings of the pinsetter machines. He then takes the audience for a spin around the iconic bowling alley, over the bar, and through the attached theater. Mike Welsh, the owner of the production company, Sky Candy Studios, takes one for the team in his debut as the bowling ball polisher in the too-close-for-comfort, through-the-legs shot.

The Set-Up

After five practice runs and ten takes, the team finally nailed it. During each take, Anthony walked around queuing the actors to throw the bowling balls and stage conversations. Meanwhile, Jay sat with some futuristic-looking goggles showing a live feed from the drone. A GoPro Hero sits atop the small, agile drone.

Jay said the drone took a little damage on the final crash into the bowling pins, but it isn’t any worse for wear.

The Mission

Bryant Lake Bowl opened in 1926 and remains an iconic staple of Lake Street in Minneapolis. When asked why they shot the video at Bryant Lake Bowl, Jay talked about Lake Street’s challenges during the pandemic compounded by unrest in the city. 

“If there was a day when Bryant Lake Bowl wasn’t here, that’d be a bummer for sure,” Jay said.

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Joseph Lewin

Innovation moves the world forward. My goal is to enable engineers to spend more time innovating by reducing non-value-added tasks through effective reuse strategies.