BiG MACHiNE Sighting: Director Steve Petersen Crafts "Chasing UFOs" Promo For National Geographic


Last Updated: July 22, 2012 10:04 pm GMT
(Los Angeles, California--July 22, 2012) National Geographic Channel recently called on visual production company BiG MACHiNE to create the launch promo for "Chasing UFOs." Introducing the show's motley trio of hosts (the skeptic, the believer, and one undecided), the cinematic promo enthralls with a fast-paced UFO chase. Led by rising television & commercial director Steve Petersen, BiG MACHiNE deployed blockbuster live-action stunts and VFX to create the epic promo.

To view the promo, please visit:

Nothing sets a "UFO sighting" tone quite like real home video footage, which is where the promo begins. The action quickly cuts to a cinematic world where a high-speed UFO pursuit is underway. Traversing a futuristic desert city, our investigators zero in on an elusive alien spaceship. After sprinting through alleys, ATV jumps, a near car crash, and a frantic night-vision sequence, the promo culminates with a most close encounter, as the spellbound trio stares suspended amid phenomenal lights emanating from the night sky.

"NatGeo presented us with an exciting filmmaking opportunity, especially in terms of creating a promo for the non-scripted genre," remarks Petersen. "We were able to bring some Hollywood-style narrative elements into the fold, and create something completely original to capture the essence of 'Chasing UFOs.' We've had a longstanding relationship with NatGeo, and they gave us a lot of creative liberties to work outside the box and do something special for them."

The challenge was the jam-packed shooting schedule, which was done over the course of two days. All of the desert day and night exteriors were filmed in one day while the urban scenes, such as the alleys and rooftops, were shot on the second day. The desert day scene was particularly demanding, involving animal actors, driving and parkour stunts, dialogue, and a print shoot, as well as technical juggling of cranes, smoke and wind machines and helium light balloons.

Petersen, who recently made waves as creator, director and executive producer of TV shows "Real Vice Miami" (Investigation Discovery) and "Valentine's Day Massacre" for (National Geographic Channel), sought to bring the same level of production value and cinematic quality to the "Chasing UFOs" promo. This included commissioning a gravity-defying stunt team and enlisting the award-winning design and animation team he oversees at BiG MACHiNE. Petersen and his production crew shot the chase sequence in the desert and downtown Los Angeles over the course of two days, working closely with the "Chasing UFOs" cast and their stunt doubles.

"The cast were a complete joy to work with and conducted themselves like bona fide action movie stars," concludes Petersen. "That's pretty cool considering I was directing a documentarian, a geoscientist and a tech guru by trade. Factor in our stunt doubles and DP on-hand for the shoot, as well as NatGeo's immense support, we were able to pull off some ambitious action shoots to make the piece a success."

Client: National Geographic Channel

Production & Design Company: BiG MACHiNE
Director: Steve Petersen
Director of Photography: Matt Egan
Assistant Director: Bronic Bednarik
Senior Producer: Matt LeBoeuf

Technology Used: Shot on RED / Cinema 4D / After Effects / Final Cut Pro

About BiG MACHiNE:
BiG MACHiNE is an award-winning visual production company founded in 2003 by Steve Petersen and Ken Carlson. BMD has produced visuals for everything from: film titles, advertising, TV shows, games, multi-screen experiences and mobile devices. Recent clients include Ubisoft, Nike, NFL Network, Warner Bros. / ABC, and Colgate.


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