Getting the bird’s eye on British Columbia

Former Adventure Studies students showcase their program and the province in new video

From seeing the waves gently lap the shores around Tofino to looking down on Squamish from the top of the Chief, B.C. has a great number of sights to be seen. Not everyone gets to see the views they offer, but even fewer get to see them from above.

One TRU alum had the idea to do just that, though. Raphaël Boudreault-Simard graduated from TRU’s Adventure Studies program in 2013. Since then, the self-described whitewater kayaking enthusiast has focused on building a different set of skills.

“I’ve always loved adventure filming. Most of my filmmaking experience has been done with Quebec Connection, a group of whitewater athletes my good friend Emrick and I founded in early 2011,” Boudreault-Simard said. “This last fall, I simply wanted to expand my horizons and explore different scenes, each with their different challenges.”

The different challenges that Boudreault-Simard went looking for would lead him right back to TRU. After helping instruct a whitewater kayaking course last year, the Adventure Studies program gave Boudreault-Simard the opportunity to expand his portfolio a little further.

“Raphaël and I had built a close relationship while he was here and that was one of the reasons I hired him to teach whitewater kayaking,” said Sharman Learie, an Adventure Studies program coordinator and whitewater instructor. “At the time he was looking for the opportunity to do some drone cinematography and fill his portfolio with dramatic landscapes and interesting people. The more we talked, the more we got excited about the potential for the idea.”

Though Learie described getting Boudreault-Simard to the right place at the right time as a “logistical challenge,” they would ultimately be successful in ensuring that they captured the very essence of the Adventure Studies program.

Boudreault-Simard started his foray into aerial cinematography last spring as a way to cope with an injured shoulder. Now he has an entire fleet of drones. In order to capture the video that would eventually make up the “Adventure Studies From Above” short film, Boudreault-Simard had to specially modify a drone.

“I built a hexacopter so that it could be dual-operated. The pilot flies the bird while the camera operator, helped by live video feed on a screen, films the action. That way we can create much better aerial imagery while having a safer pilot,” Boudreault-Simard said.

After a few weeks of training his camera operators, Cody Bartel, another TRU alum, and Claire Lang, a friend and fellow photographer, Boudreault-Simard was ready to showcase some of hte activities in the Adventure Studies program.

Spending approximately twelve days in the field, the group of cinematographers traversed multiple B.C. locales, from the Cariboo Mountains to Tofino and Squamish and even some of the rivers north of Kamloops.

Though his work gave him an excellent opportunity to build a portfolio, the highlight of the experience to Boudreault-Simard was something much more personal.

“Traveling, cooking, learning and exploring with such a rad group of like-minded people is extremely rare and experiencing that again, after completing the program, has got to be the hidden purpose behind it all,” he said.

After one of Boudreault-Simard’s friends contacted him and said that she had applied to the Adventure Studies program at TRU because of his video, he realized the marketing potential behind the film and gave all of its usage rights to the university.

“We love the footage and we hope it draws attention to what we do here, because it gives it a unique perspective,” Learie said. “I think we are always looking for interesting ways to showcase what we do here and the drone has a popular momentum in social spheres as far as footage goes.”

Learie added that Boudreault-Simard hasn’t been the only one to shoot stunning video in the Adventure Studies program. In fact, most of the videos posted to the program’s social media feeds are created by Adventure Studies students themselves.

“Not only do we get some great footage, but from a career perspective, this is also helping these students by giving them the chance to delve in cinematography,” Learie said.

If you’re not afraid of heights, you can find “Adventure Studies From Above” in the online version of this article.