LED Ski Suits Transform Nighttime on the Slopes

Everyone who is a regular skier tries out night skiing once or twice, but few find it compelling enough to do it more often than that. One short film that is making the rounds, however, put a technological twist on the idea. Sweetgrass Productions has put together an amazing montage of skiers wearing bright, neon-colored LEDs attached to full body suits as they ski down mountainsides in Canada. It is quite a striking sight to watch them flying off cliffs and spinning through the air while glowing blue, green, or purple. The piece was meant for advertising a new television from Philips TV, but it took on a life of its own due to its eerie beauty and the sheer craft of the final result.

The production process was a massive effort. It took over a month to capture enough footage to make the final three-minute video, and a rotating class of top skiers shared the suits. Those suits themselves were jury-rigged and put together by hand, with the crew often needing to replace parts, solder on wires, or otherwise fix them. It was an engineering challenge just to build the suits and keep them running in the subzero conditions. Each suit has thousands of LEDs, all powered by one small battery the size of a candy bar. The LEDs were hand-sewn onto Gore-tex, and the suits needed repairs due to the jarring impact of the skiers landing on the snow.

Adding in the remote location and the time of day made it even harder to pull off. The crew was working the latest shift possible in locations dozens of miles from any road, so they had to carry hundreds of pounds of equipment to their lodge. Every day, the crew faced new challenges in filming and balancing their desire to get great shots with respect for the safety of the athletes skiing for them. It all turned out to be worth it, when the incredible final product hit the Web to widespread acclaim. Check out the video below.

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