Crazy camera operator chases parkour athlete across Paris rooftops!

DJI Parkour
(Image credit: DJI)

Sometimes you see things online that you just have to share – and when we saw that a stunt team took the latest DJI Ronin 4D to the rooftops of Paris to shoot parkour, we simply had to share.

This collaboration with DJI and the Stunt Camera Crew, who describe themselves as action camera operators, took the DJI Ronin 4D to the rooftops to see what they could make with it – and you can see the full result below.

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For two heart-pounding minutes, Rooftops of Paris follows a traceur racing up narrow beams, leaping over wide chasms, and hurling himself at the edge of danger – with a  split screen revealing an even more amazing sight: a filmmaker is matching his every move, just steps away from him, while holding the DJI Ronin 4D cinema camera in his hand. Through all this insanely dangerous action, the camera stays level and stabilized without any shudder or jarring footage whatsoever.

Within the video, the Stunt Camera Crew shows us what happens when you combine the acrobatics of urban parkour with the cinematic expression of filmmaking to deliver a true cinematic experience that you wouldn't able to capture before. 

SCC was created in 2005 to offer production houses a never-before-seen way of capturing dynamic scenes. The team brings together 20 years of parkour training, 10 years of film stunt performance, and specializations in rollerblading, free running, and even martial arts, which they use behind and in front of the camera.

The team’s mission is simple: “We aim to provide an efficient and creative way to capture those seemingly impossible moments through film. To captivate audiences and to keep them in suspense through the power of storytelling.”

The Stunt Camera Crew is challenging the conventional methods of action cinematography. This sentiment also resonates with DJI Ronin 4D – a camera that was created to revolutionize how filmmaking is achieved.

“We have often been on sets where camera operators have no experience with these movements,” says director Daniel Ilabaca. “We believe operators ought to be athletes themselves to know both sides of the camera.” 

In Rooftops of Paris, a single camera operator runs directly with the protagonist, played by parkour artist Johan Tonnoir, all while keeping a Ronin 4D in hand. A LiDAR focus module was used to maintains pinpoint focus on Johan through every move, by constantly creating a 3D cloud of everything in the frame to assess distance for accurate sharpness every second.

In one particularly daring take, the camera operator follows Johan up the scaffolding of a steel bridge, with the Parisian skyline perfectly positioned and vividly captured in the frame. “The ability to auto-track a subject whilst running is a breath of fresh air,” shares Dennis Weibel, who jumped from one roof to another, right behind Johan. ActiveTrack Pro enables agile cinematographers like Dennis to move freely while the camera assists by accurately following the subject.

Rooftops of Paris ends in a place that holds a special place in the history of parkour. In the closing shot, the protagonist stands still, admiring a tall, undulating sculpture with ledges and crags – it looks obvious what he has in mind. In reality this sculpture, the Dame du Lac in Lisses, France, is known widely as the birthplace of parkour. As he looks up to the sculpture, the camera moves back to reveal a camera operator pointing a DJI Ronin 4D at him, standing just as still.

It is remarkable when watching the full short how technology is changing the way in which we can physically produce a production of great quality, without the Hollywood budget and equipment usually involved with filming such actions sports at Parkour.

Read more:

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Sebastian Oakley
Ecommerce Editor

For nearly two decades Sebastian's work has been published internationally. Originally specialising in Equestrianism, his visuals have been used by the leading names in the equestrian industry such as The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), The Jockey Club, Horse & Hound and many more for various advertising campaigns, books and pre/post-event highlights.

He is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts, holds a Foundation Degree in Equitation Science and is a Master of Arts in Publishing.  He is member of Nikon NPS and has been a Nikon user since the film days using a Nikon F5 and saw the digital transition with Nikon's D series cameras and is still to this day the youngest member to be elected in to BEWA, The British Equestrian Writers' Association. 

He is familiar with and shows great interest in medium and large format photography with products by Phase One, Hasselblad, Alpa and Sinar and has used many cinema cameras from the likes of Sony, RED, ARRI and everything in between. His work covers the genres of Equestrian, Landscape, Abstract or Nature and combines nearly two decades of experience to offer exclusive limited-edition prints to the international stage from his film & digital photography.