Vectors - The Movie

Suspension of disbelief is the principle in filmmaking that allows a viewer to suspend critical thinking, at least in part, and overlook minor inconsistencies or technical details so as to enjoy a work of fiction.

VectorsSuspension of disbelief is the principle in filmmaking that allows a viewer to suspend critical thinking, at least in part, and overlook minor inconsistencies or technical details so as to enjoy a work of fiction.

In Mike JohnsonÂ?s latest movie titled Â?VectorsÂ?, he has mastered this principle and delivered a high adrenaline romp through the animated world of the Red Bull Air Race series. The film brings together a cast of unlikely participants captured with incredible (virtual) camera work and a heavy does of humor.

Mike is a Vancouver based videogame artist and photographer who has used MS Flight Simulator for twenty years. He started with version two at eleven years old and it led him on a path to get a real Private Pilot License. Airline Pilot Central caught up with Mike to ask more about the work involved in producing Vectors.

"Vectors was shot over a period of about about four weeks, on a private multiplayer server in Flight Simulator X. This was my 10th FSX film, and I had a rough storyboard laid out prior to the start of shooting, but it ended up being changed and refined quite a bit over the course of the project, mostly due to some great feedback from the rest of my team.

We started with the main portion of the race (after a great deal of rehearsal) as it was the most difficult to shoot, and built the rest of the film around that. The flying was spread across 15 or so multiplayer sessions. Some of the pilots in the film, like Pebble in the 747, I've been flying with for over ten years in various sims, and a few, like the Aussies, I met through FSX's multiplayer system itself. There were five pilots who participated in the film, and several of my friends were kind enough to lend their voice talents to the project as well. Couple that with a lot of sound work, five hundred plus cups of coffee, some insanely late nights, and one marathon 24 hour editing session at the end, and you have 'Vectors'.

I got the idea for the film after reading many negative Flight Simulator community forum posts regarding the coming Acceleration expansion pack for FSX. Many 'traditional' airliner loving sim pilots were *very* upset to see Microsoft creating an expansion for the franchise that dealt with fighter aircraft, helicopter operations, and air racing, rather than their precious airbuses, autopilots, and ATC systems. A lot of them went so far as to say as that such things weren't 'real flying' and had no place in flight simulator.

Well, that sort of elitist attitude really doesn't sit well with me. I felt it was time to have some fun at their expense, and to remind them that flight simulator as a platform is many different things to many different people. Essentially the film reverses the airliner heavy demographics of Flight Simulator and its users, and looks at how an airliner addon would fit into a world where military aircraft and racing were the norm. Those traditional flight simulator users are represented by the 747 in this movie, and as such they really get the short end of the stick. :)

I wanted to make that statement with the film and humor seemed to be the best course, and although the message is directed at a particular group of people, there's a little something in there for everyone, and a great many 'in-jokes' that you may or may not get depending on how close you are to aviation in general, and flight simming in particular.

Obviously in making the movie I was forced to bend the rules of physics in a number of ways, there was a fair degree of trickery involved, but that alone says a lot about Flight Simulator X's extensibility and flexibility. For anyone who hasn't checked out FSX yet, they definitely should *not* judge its flight modeling by what's seen in this movie. In normal use FSX's flight and atmospheric models are really quite realistic.

The credits in the movie are a little ambiguous as my pilot friends kindly fill various roles as needed, but here's the breakdown for those who are curious. We can generally be found in FSX multiplayer somewhere over 600 knots and below 100' AGL. "

Thanks for watching!


Qantas 747 - Pebble Garden

Extra 300 - Lotus (myself)

XB-70 Valkyrie - Dustoff / Jester Wrath

Ultralight Trike - Mugar17 / Flagstaff

F-14 Tomcat - Jester Wrath / Flagstaff


Extra 300 pilot - Heather Cooke

ATC - Clay Dale

Red Bull race announcer - Eric Smith

Qantas pilot - Mark Harvie

Qantas flight attendant - Lyn Harvie

You can see more of Mike's work here:

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