Filming a Guinness World Record

The Hardest Job I Have EVER Done. Ever!

Update May 2022: I have recently filmed another long Guinness World Record in aid of Motor Neurone Disease. This one was just 34 hours but just as tough. Check it out using the link above. 

The Shoreham Air Disaster happened on August 22nd 2015. A pilot during the Shoreham air show crashed onto a nearby main road killing 11 men. The following year, an amazing group of people attempted to break the world record for the longest ever football match in memory of 3 footballers they knew that had died.

Filming a Guinness World Record

A while back, a friend of mine was looking for someone to help on a video job that involved a world record attempt. As I am always looking for a challenge or something different to do, I said I would help. Watch the video below and then read on for more info on this epic task…

How I got involved and how we stepped up to the enormous challenge

The world record I was to film just happened to be the longest ever, continuous football match and the current record stood at 105 hours, they were aiming for 108!

That is more than 4 and a half days…or nearly two whole premiere league football seasons in one match!!!

…and I had to film the ENTIRE game from start to finish with one continuous video capture.

Kit used

Luckily, I had enough equipment (and the right equipment) to hopefully do the job. A professional Sony PMW EX1 camera with “hot-swappable” card slots that could hold up to 64GB per slot. This would allow the camera to run for around 10 hours non stop. All I needed to do was:

  • Swap out the cards every 5 hours
  • Make a time check on audio
  • Offload the card to a laptop
  • Insert a new card

I also had another Sony HD camcorder with built in solid state hard drive that would act as back up. Oh, and a Panasonic GH4 as a back up back up. Yes, and my Inspire UAV (drone), Go Pro Hero Black 4 and various other bits of kit. All for me to have a play and film other stuff whilst I was there.

All cameras were set to the lowest quality HD setting which was all Guinness needed. As well as that, I made audible time checks every hour or so (with a clap) so that I could align the footage when editing. I am glad I did this.

On more than one occasion, I had to “fill gaps” with footage from one of the back up cameras.

Our viewpoint for filming

For the first day and night, before the game started, we set up camp on the top of an “open-top” double decker bus. Big mistake.

We woke in the morning of kick-off to find the cameras dripping with water as a heavy mist fell upon us and blew into our “camp”. This also played havoc with recording. Not only did the lenses fog up every 3 minutes, we could barely see the pitch.

Luckily, the weather cleared and the fog stayed away for the rest of the duration. However, our problems didn’t end there. Even though we commandeered another, hard top double decker bus, I had to deal with a power surge which knocked one camera out for a while. And then came the storm…

The Storm

One night, during a few minutes of precious sleep, I was woken by an almighty clap of thunder. I jumped out of bed (a 5 foot ledge at the back of the bus…ground floor) to see water pouring in everywhere. It was hitting the dashboard of the bus, through windows and soaking some camera equipment. When I got upstairs it was no better.

Water was pouring in through open windows. I had one camera filming through glass and another through an open window to hedge my bets with clarity etc. The water was getting everywhere. The lens poking through the open window was starting to get very wet so I dried it and pulled the camera back inside a few inches. Away from the rain.

Anyway, the problem was sorted and the game continued but was nearly called off due to the lightning. The next day saw another torrential downpour which happened to hit during the same teams stint. Poor buggers, but then it stayed away.

Offloading footage

To make sure I didn’t lose any data, I offloaded the EX1 cards approximately every 5 hours. I then put a new card in. The back up camera would run for over 15-20 hours so that was offloaded less regularly but still needed to be done.

In a nutshell

After having to:

  • Move buses whilst continuing to film non stop while
  • Keeping the match fully in the frame
  • Dealing with torrential rain, fog and
  • An average of 3 hours sleep a night for 6 nights

...the final whistle blew and I could finally turn off the cameras.

They had performed incredibly well. However, if I am honest, I wasn’t sure if they were up to recording non-stop for that long but I had faith. I had owned and used these cameras for 8 and 10 years respectively and knew them well. I was going to sell them but now I feel I should keep them out of respect!

Editing for the record

There was me thinking the hard part was over…

Guinness Book of World Records needed to see the entire match. From start to finish in order to tally up the records that were taken pitch-side:

  • Goals
  • Scorers
  • Substitutions
  • Comfort breaks etc

So I had to produce 4 timelines of 24 hours and one for the remaining 12. That took some time...about three days to be precise.

Then they had to be rendered which took another 45 hours. Then copied to a new hard drive for posting. Eventually, it was all done within a week...solo...on my tod!

Here is what one of those 24 hour timelines looks like for those interested. Click for larger version.

Filming a Guinness World Record

If you or anyone you know needs someone to film an event, however epic it may seem, please give me a call. I will be happy to discuss.

I even had time to think up, plan and shoot a fun video with the help of Mark Boyt, who got me this gig. Here we are delivering water to the referee by drone:

Filming a Guinness World Record Gallery

About the author

Nick Stubbs is a professional photographer, filmmaker and drone pilot with over 35 years experience in the imaging business. Still as passionate about his work as he was aged 13. Married with two kids and living in the beautiful town of Weymouth in Dorset.

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