Seemingly impossible drone footage in Minneapolis bowling alley ad stuns top filmmakers

It's not often you see a bowling alley promotional video in general, much less one that grabs the attention of millions of people. But that's exactly what a video made for Bryant-Lake Bowl, a bowling alley in Minneapolis, has done. Not only has the spot gone viral on social media, but it's also caught the eye of top Hollywood directors who are praising the tricky direction and camerawork it involves.

The almost-90-second footage begins with a drone camera hovering above the street outside the bowling alley before swooping down through the front doors and zooming around inside the building. It starts off "Okay, this is cool," but by the time it's halfway through it's clear that this isn't your average drone camera work.

With impressive speed, we're taken through small openings above the bowling lanes, back behind the pin machines, through narrow corridors no one ever gets to see, under people's legs, through people's conversations, around the bar and theater, and ultimately right smack dab in the middle of some flying bowling pins. It's impressive.

So impressive, in fact, that it caught the eye of Lee Unkrich (director of the hit Pixar film Coco), who retweeted the video from James Gunn (director of Guardians of the Galaxy), with both men sharing their gobsmacked reactions to it.



The surprising cinematic hit comes from Minneapolis-based Rally Studios and was created by cinematographer Jay Christensen and directed by Anthony Jaska. According to the Star Tribune, Christensen and Jaska made the short film to help bring some attention to local businesses that have been struggling.

"If you think about all the small businesses and COVID, their business has been hit, obviously," Christensen said. "I would go in there and notice that it was pretty empty." The pair reached out to the bowling alley owner with the idea of showcasing the uniqueness of the place.

The speedy tour in, out, up, and around the various parts of the bowling alley is dizzyingly cool, but the fact that it was all shot in one take is what gives it that "unbelievable" feel.

"It is a true one-take," Jaska told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "There's no CGI. That was kind of interesting. But also the positive nature of it — people seeing the skill that it takes and the unique ability it takes to combine the skill of an amazing pilot, the technology of a drone, and the story that can actually be told through a one-take."

The perfect shot came after 10 or 12 tries in a 2-hour period. They shot the film after hours (for COVID safety) on March 2 and added audio after the fact, since the drone's buzzing sound interfered with the natural sounds of the bowling alley.

According to the Tribune, Christensen had been doing lots of work with FPV (first-person view) drone camera work since last spring, but he'd never shot drone footage indoors before, which makes the feat all the more incredible. But as remarkable as the camerawork inside the bowling alley is, he said the most difficult shot was actually the very first one—getting through the front door. It was a windy day, he had to make sure no pedestrians were around, and he had to maneuver around a parking meter that was right where he wanted the drone to be.

The hard work paid off, though. Todd Vaziri, a visual effects artist who has worked on blockbuster film franchises such as Star Wars, Star Trek, and Marvel, tweeted: "This kind of wonderful photographic innovation adds to the language and vocabulary of cinema. Just beautiful."

Director James Gunn not only praised the footage as "incredible" and "stupendous," but he also said he wanted the duo to join his crew in London when they shoot Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

Christensen and Jaska said they've had multiple directors reach out to them, which has come as a surprise. When the Tribune asked about the possibility of working with James Gunn, Jaska said it "seems crazy, but who knows?"

Talent is talent, and sometimes it's found in the oddest of places. Looking forward to seeing where these guys' drone work takes them as they explore future projects with the best in the business.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less