Wood Knows No Borders: International Film Crew Visits FPL

UPDATE: The final video has been released and can be viewed here!

Favorable winds and clear skies meant that the afternoon mission would launch as planned. With steady hands on the controls, the pilot touched a button and the ensuing hypnotic whirr of the rotor system catapulted the cutting-edge, four-bladed aircraft into the sky from behind the federal research facility in Madison, Wisconsin.

Its mission? To help tell the story of humanity’s relationship with wood. Its indispensable payload? A two inch wide, remote-controlled, camera.

The IWCS aerial camera operator performs operational checks on his remote-controlled quadcopter prior to filming at the FPL.

A four person film crew from the International Wood Culture Society (IWCS) recently visited the Forest Product Laboratory (FPL) armed with a flying camera, state-of-the-art video equipment, curiosity, and a long list of questions for FPL researchers. Their footage, including the aerial footage of the FPL, will be used in an upcoming documentary about wood usage  in the United States.

IWCS is a Taiwanese managed, non-profit, non-governmental, international network of wood enthusiasts, dedicated to the research, education and promotion of wood. The organization advocates a harmonious coexistence between nature and people while exploring the usage of wood from a cultural perspective.

The Taiwan-based film group, headed by director Peter Yu, were wrapping up a segment primarily focused on wooden furniture when they heard about the FPL. Their unexpected detour away from the nearby Furniture Design and Woodworking department of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, afforded them hours of jaw-dropping cinematography and interviews from several world renowned wood experts that work at the laboratory.

The crew was also able to film several FPL employees hard at work — from engineers conducting load tests on various wooden samples, to industry partners creating structural panels in the Composites Research area of the laboratory.

“With this documentary, we want to inspire viewers and garner interest in wood and wood use,” explains Mike Hou, director of the IWCS. “I think that audiences will be very interested in the experiments here.”

Director Peter Yu interviews Bob Ross, a supervisory research general engineer at FPL.

This documentary may be the first IWCS production to feature FPL, but is far from the organization’s first video project in the United States. Earlier this year, IWCS released a documentary on Sam Maloof, an artisan widely considered to have been one of America’s most renowned contemporary furniture craftsmen — the man People magazine dubbed, “the Hemingway of Hardwood.”

By including the laboratory in their next documentary, IWCS will continue to tell the story of mankind and our most important natural material, while better resolving the role modern research and development plays in its utilization. Although the crew was only at FPL for three days, they hope that their message will endure.

For more information about IWCS, please visit the IWCS website.