Earlier this year Epic Shot was installed at the AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand’s (AJHBNZ) Nevis Swing. The Nevis Swing is the highest commercial cliff swing in the world, launching participants from a platform 160 meters above the Nevis River. The swing reaches speeds of up to 120 kilometres per hour with a 300-metre arc out over the Nevis River and canyon below, providing participants with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and countryside.
When the process of installing Epic Shot began, the team started with looking at the previous photo and video set-up to identify what angles were transferrable to the new system and what weren’t. Epic Shot is designed to capture lots of interesting and dynamic angles of customers as they swing, as well as wide shots of the surrounding mountains and countryside, that are optimised for customers to post straight to social media. This involved looking at the camera placements that were already in place and whether these could be improved upon or removed entirely for a different angle.
“For content to stand out and perform well, it must be interesting/exciting, optimised for mobile and social media and easy to share. A single point-of-view camera just doesn’t cut it.“
Dan Waugh, Chief Information Officer AJHBNZ
As Epic Shot utilises iPhones to create its content, it was easy to trial phones in various placements to determine where the most optimal spots were for the final product. Another great feature of using iPhones is that it creates more flexibility in terms of what angles are possible. The iPhones are placed on the deck and around the mountains to capture personalised photos of customers before they swing — and wide-angle shots of the location, showing the scale of the activity.
When developing Epic Shot, AJHBNZ system engineers conducted thorough research to determine what aspects create great content for customers and social media. This research identified five key pillars that needed to be covered in the final composition:
5. The “Hero-Shot” (aka the wow-factor)
The “Hero-Shot” is the most captivating part of an activity and is vital to creating stand-out content for customers.
The research identified that for the Nevis Swing, the “Hero-Shot” is capturing customers facial expressions when they are released. While customers had personalised content through the wave-shots that are taken once they have been harnessed into the swing, not capturing customers’ faces shock and excitement when the swing is released from the deck meant that their packages lacked that extra wow-factor that sets apart good content from great content. Thus, AJHBNZ decided to develop the trapeze shot.
Just like a trapeze that an acrobat performs on, the camera moves with the customer, providing a dynamic and immersive view of the experience. Epic Shot named this angle the trapeze shot because it is visually similar to the trapeze an acrobat performs on, with the camera attached to the horizontal bar above customers in order to follow and capture them throughout their swing. The trapeze shot provides a unique and exciting perspective of the Nevis Swing, capturing customers’ facial expressions as they plummet through the 300m arc.
The trapeze shot was installed in July 2023, two months after the Nevis Swing had gone live with Epic Shot. The angle was trialled during the two-month period to determine its reliability and quality prior to including the footage customers’ photo and video packages. The trapeze shot captures a video and photos using two iPhones that are secured to the top of the swing, facing down to customers. The iPhones work on a trigger-based system which communicates to the phones when to start recording and when to upload the recorded content directly to Epic Shot.
The first trigger communicates to the iPhone when the clamp of the swing has been opened so that it starts recording when customers are released. The second trigger occurs when the clamp closes as this communicates that the customers have returned to the deck and the iPhone is back in range. Once the second trigger is activated, the phone commences uploading the recorded footage to Epic Shot for it to be edited into the customers photo and video package, ready for them to view in a matter of minutes.
The trapeze shot was previously used by AJHBNZ several years ago however, it was removed as it was notoriously difficult to maintain. Previously, a Go-Pro was strapped to the top of the swing above customers with a battery connected to it. The Go-Pro recorded footage of the customers swinging was then broadcasted via a radio-stream back to the swing deck. Due to the extreme parameters of a 300m swing there were continuous issues with quality control and ensuring the captured footage was reliable and sellable.
Epic Shot removes these issues as it is designed using a smart App that can work remotely, recording, processing, and storing footage until it can reconnect and transfer the footage. This means Epic Shot does not require radio-streaming or broadcasting to create its content. Epic Shot’s trapeze shot only requires two mounted iPhones to capture its content with consideration that they are sufficiently secured in cases to enhance longevity, protect the iPhones from weather elements and to ensure customer safety.
While creating the trapeze shot the team encountered a few challenges. Namely, manufacturing a case that could withstand the extreme weather conditions in a high-impact, restrictive environment involved extensive research and design before consultation with a developer even began.
AJBHNZ engineers also recognised that the cases for the iPhones needed to be able to dissipate heat using a heatsink. A heatsink is a passive heat exchanger that transfers heat to a fluid medium allowing regulation of the device’s temperature. To do this, AJHBNZ engineers worked on developing the iPhone cases to have fins on the outside and a heat transfer pad inside the case. When the swing is in motion, the air generated from the swings arc enters via the fins to the additional surface area inside the case and removes the heat.
Since including the trapeze shot into customers’ photo and video packages, AJHBNZ recorded a 5% increase in customers purchasing their content. It became evident that the addition of the “hero-shot” became a deciding factor for customers when they purchased their footage.
“Every time they are looking at their swing footage, you just know what they are reacting to. You hear people laughing, talking to each other, pointing at the screen and you know exactly what they are looking at. You would get good reactions before (the trapeze shot) but you wouldn’t get that explosive reaction.”
Greg Thomas, Technology Support Engineer AJHBNZ
With Epic Shot, the team prides itself on its ability to create stand-out content using intuitive designs that are researched and developed to suit the nuances of various products. While Epic Shots’ base product is good, we are always looking for ways to make it even better. That is why we put so much effort into the intricate details such as building custom heatsink cases and developing trigger-based A.I to capture the Hero-Shot.
The five pillars for great content (Personalisation, Perspective, Location, Audio and the Hero-Shot) may not seem like game-changers on their own, but they add up to make Epic Shot the best product it can be. In the next edition, we will explore another content pillar in-depth to demonstrate how it was achieved and the overall impact it has on the final product. We believe that combination of the five pillars make a big difference to ensure customers receive the best possible final product that they can relive again and again.