Matt Staker is a former professional wakeboarder, turned cinematographer whose unique vision helps craft some of the most innovative images seen on screen today. His career has taken him to the far edges of the world and his specialty camera work continues to wow audiences globally.
Storytelling comes in many shapes and sizes these days, including a recent evolution into NFTs and Web3. You don’t have to believe in NFTs or understand how they work to know that, like any product, their success comes down to whether the viewer cares about the story behind it.
A new ambitious project titled “Cloud Niners” is a narrative driven collection that follows a cousin (maybe) of mysterious billionaire and Bitcoin founder, Satoshi Nakamoto. The mysterious stranger invites unsuspecting participants to join his world through a series of riddles across the globe . As a part of the storyline, the team behind “Cloud Niners” set out to create a short film shot at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida to bring audiences into the cinematic universe.
The "Cloud Niners'" story world is designed as a multi-platform narrative released through NFTs, video, photo, cryptic clues, and more. The Immersive storyline will take viewers on a journey complete with hidden, unlockable, and trait-stored rewards from continually on-boarded brand collabs. These rewards grant holders access to unique experiences like Astronaut for a day training at Kennedy Space Center, discounts with luxury travel brands, or even jumping into the ocean with a whale shark off the coast of Mexico.
Cinematographer Matt Staker has shot on NASA property several times, including high-speed work for rocket launches and documentaries with former and current astronauts both at some well-known facilities and not so well-known locations. “Working on ‘The Right Stuff’ on launch pads at old launch facilities was something I’ll never forget,” he says. “The Cape has a long history and to be there and be part of it is quite the experience.” For the “Cloud Niners” launch film, the crew shot on location at the massive Starfighter Hanger and at the space shuttle Launch and Landing Facility (LLF). At 15,000 feet long and 300 feet wide is the LLF runway that claims to be the longest and flattest runway in the world.
The production called for an ARRI Alexa Mini mounted with Atlas anamorphic lenses powered by Titon 90 batteries. Over two hours of battery life meant that Matt and his AC Scott Armstrong had one less thing to worry about during each shoot day. The light weight made the handheld action scenes more manageable while the PTAP and USB option was a great bonus.
“The Titon 90 Gold Mount is my current battery of choice. The air transport safe certification is also huge since most of my shoots are out on location.”
Director Jonny Zeller tasked Matt and his team with capturing several challenging scenes throughout the sub-three-minute film. Everything from running footage of a Lamborghini racing through the streets of Orlando, to a boat towing a professional Red Bull wake boarder. In one of the most exhilarating scenes, a Gulfstream G250 jet raced a Porsche 911 along the LLF runway. The Gulfstream jet and Porsche racing scene posed several obstacles because the take-off and landing speeds of the G250 were over 140mph.
Matt opted for an Insert Truck because of the flexibility and reasonable cost. Executive Producer Chris Garrison and the production team spent countless hours on planning a way to pull the shot off safely. The stakes were even higher than usual because NASA had only cleared the Gulfstream for a single take-off and landing, so timing was everything. Matt remembered the pressure vividly. “We had to get it right on the first try. Not only did I have to keep my frame at high speed and Scott’s focus needed to be tack sharp, but we couldn’t have any equipment failures.
A fun storyline, talented crew, and some of the best gear available (oh, and fighter jets) came together to create a pretty memorable production. “It wasn’t an easy job, but the easy ones aren’t as much fun.” says Matt.
“We’re just hoping to get a ride in the Porsche or fighter jet next time”.