How to film a Porsche... with a hot air balloon
The Porsche Ice Experience from a hot air balloon
A hot air balloon flies over a snowy Finnish landscape
A flight in a hot air balloon is memorable for anyone taking part. But when making a film with the Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo at a snowy Porsche Ice Experience in Finland, it becomes a truly amazing one
Think of rides in hot air balloons and your first thoughts are likely to be of miles and miles of green countryside below and warm summer evenings. But a ride in a hot air balloon is no less spectacular in seemingly less hospitable conditions. Balloon pilot Hartmann Abendstein – an Austrian by birth but a resident of Finland since 1986 – says that life for him is understandably less busy in the depths of winter. Balloon flights are a little more problematical in the Arctic conditions that grip his adopted homeland at this time of the year. But today, despite the freezing temperatures, conditions couldn’t be more perfect. The Finnish skies at the Porsche Ice Experience are a clear, cobalt blue and what breeze there is minimal. This is a good thing because today he and his team are not taking tourists on a tranquil trip above the white expanse below, but are playing an important role as part of a sizeable film crew for a Porsche campaign.
The hot air balloon is prepared for take-off
Blowing hot and cold: the balloon is readied for take-off
Hartmann has laid out the balloon envelope next to the basket at one of the outermost corners of the Porsche Ice Experience site. Normally, the soundtrack here is provided by 911, Taycan and other Porsche models. Deep mid-winter is, naturally, the busiest time of year for this incredible piece of real estate. Usually, up to a hundred visitors from all over the world practice drifting under expert guidance on its various courses every day. Today it’s quiet and especially idyllic – just one lone Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo doing laps on the extensive terrain. Powered by twin electric motors, the Taycan may offer near silent running, but the crunch of tyre on snow is an ever present sound.
Porsche Taycan and hot air balloon in a snowy scene
Film car, camera and balloon are ready to shoot the next scene
The words ‘-30° +30° #Drive2Extremes’ is emblazoned on Hartmann’s balloon in huge letters, but you can see little of it at this precise moment as the vessel still lies half inflated on the ground at the Porsche Ice Experience in Finland, like a stranded whale. The film crew are off shooting another scene, and as yet Hartmann and his balloon have not received the order to launch from production manager Antti Lahtinnen, who keeps the sizeable production crew spread across the whole site organised with clear commands on the radio. Nevertheless, there is a slight feeling of tension building as, in their forthcoming next scenes, the director and camera operators will require maximum precision from the balloon pilot. A hot air balloon is steered by taking advantage of the different wind directions at different heights. Otherwise, it drifts wherever the wind blows it. Hartmann’s experience and expertise will be crucial.
Snowy Finnish landscape, with car tracks carved in it
From the balloon basket things look calm below, but film shoots like these usually thrive on adrenaline
Then, over the radio, Antti puts out a call for the next scene – and Hartmann and his balloon team leap into action. Gigantic bursts of yellow flames roar out of the burners into the balloon envelope, and within a few minutes it has inflated and began to rise upright. At this point the balloon has to be secured to the ground by ropes, waiting for the moment the production manager finally calls “Action!”.
Hot air balloon rises into the sky above snowy field
We have lift-off!
When the call comes to untether the balloon it climbs gently and elegantly into the northern skies, sailing precisely in the direction that the director has requested it to. Up here, the view from the basket provides a unique panorama of the seemingly undisturbed, tranquil Porsche Ice Experience courses below.
A drone circles around a hot-air balloon
While the balloon sits almost motionless in the Arctic sky, a FPV camera drone performs spectacular loops around it
The whir of the camera drone, which is being manoeuvred from below by ace pilot Johnny FPV, quickly reminds us that we’re here to shoot a video and are part of a precisely planned scene – even if it will be only be needed for a few minutes. But soon we are heading back down once more, where the crew are waiting on snowmobiles to take us back to the original launch point.
People loading a snowmobile trailer
The film’s support crew loads the balloon onto a snowmobile-powered sledge to take it back its starting once more
It turns out something about the scene wasn’t quite perfect enough for the director. After a few instructions, we are ready for take two. “Action… again!” is the call. But with a view from above like this, anyone would be happy to keep on doing this until the light fades. It brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘chilled out’. Do you feel like a bit of action now? Click here to watch the video and see how it turned out.
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