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LEVITATE: 800mm lens, 1000fps camera, IR/Aerochrome, and parkour in New York

9/08/2023 Matt 0 Comments

In our latest passion project, we put the Freefly Ember through its paces. With a hot New York City summer as our backdrop, we followed parkour athlete Sha Mualimm-Ak and tried to capture his epic moves juxtaposed against the hustle and bustle of the city.
Back in 2020 Freefly Systems released the WAVE camera. It was the company’s first entry into the slow-motion, specialty camera world. Three years later the EMBER is improving on image quality, dynamic range, resolution, and usability - allowing us to capture 4K images at up to 1,000fps. Overall we were really impressed by EMBER - the camera delivers an incredible image for its small form factor and price. 

Freefly Systems released the WAVE camera

For the first part of our shoot, we set out to capture the busyness of NYC. Stabilized with a MoVI PRO, we shot with a Canon 400mm DO II still lens and 1.4x Extender resulting in an 800mm focal length (35mm equivalent).  Together with Movi Operator Ryan Hamelin and 1st AC Adam Roberts, we traveled through the city to find interesting moments. 

Next, we teamed up with director and extreme sports photographer Ben Franke to capture parkour athlete Sha Mualimm-Ak.  The goal visually was to completely juxtapose the long lens photography of NYC, so we shot primarily on the Laowa 12mm with heavy diffusion. We also modified the camera, removed the OLPF and added Kolari IR Chrome filtration to create the dramatic Aerochrome IR look. 

Going with a super paired-down camera build allowed us to get very dynamic with the camera movement - rotating and tracking with Sha’s movements. 

For the texture elements, we used both Laowa 12mm as well as the new Laowa Periscope/Probe lens for underwater photography and shots moving through fire.

Big thanks go out to J.P Damboragian who took on the edit (he previously crafted our ‘Wolakota’ and ‘Vortex’ films) and also to Seth Ricart and the entire RCO team for coloring the piece and really making the images sing. Also thanks to Sha and Ben for joining this project and opening the world of parkour for this piece. 

Let us know which shots you like best and we hope you enjoy the piece!


Director of Photography | Tim Sessler

Co-Director | Ben Franke

Movi Operator | Ryan Hamelin

1st AC | Adam Roberts

Special Effects | Forrest S. Brookmire

Music | KAMAUU & Michael Marantz

Edit | J.P Damboragian |

Color by RCO |

Supervising Colorist | Seth Ricart 

Colorist | Derrick Yuen 

Color Assist | Rachel Dwornick

Color Producer | Kay Carpenter

Special thanks to Autumn Kay Brookmire, Michael Marantz, Brandon Bray, Brandon Bloch, RCO, Tabb Firchau, Ansel Luchau, Freefly Systems and all of the pigeons of NYC.

BTS Photo Credits: Ben Franke

This article and all the images were originally published on  and shared with their permission

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About Tim Sessler: a cinematographer and visual storyteller based in New York City. Let's Get Connected: | Vimeo