In Canada, many movies and TV commercial scenes are filmed on frozen lakes or ponds. Working on ice poses safety risks to film crews and their equipment. There are times when a commercial schedule requires that a film shoot be taken early in the season – literally on thin ice! This is even more challenging when the area is subject to rapidly changing weather as is the case in the Canadian Rockies. To ensure that the crew is safe, ice safety assessments are required to be carried out by a professional engineer to confirm that the ice is strong enough to carry the weight of the crew and their equipment. The following tasks are typically performed to assess the ice safety:

  • Determine the total weight of the expected crew and equipment
  • Determine the nominal and worst loading scenarios (i.e. expected and possible weight distribution on ice)
  • Determine the required ice thickness for safe on-ice activities (using detailed ice stress analysis)
  • Perform on-site ice thickness profiling (i.e. check the ice thickness, quality, freeboard and crack pattern/depth)
  • Provide on-site advice and monitoring (i.e. during the shoot)

For early winter shoots, additional tasks are needed, such as:

  • Prediction of ice growth and delay (based on weather forecast and site conditions)
  • Advice on artificial flooding requirement to strengthen the ice
  • Consideration of ice temperature effects on ice bearing capacity
  • Advice on snow clearing requirement

We worked on a wonderful Canadian Tire commercial in mid-November 2017. Given the timing, the ice was thin. If you are curious to find out what steps we took to ensure the ice was safe for the shoot or to find out more about our ice services, please contact us here.