Series Post-Mortem: The Traveling Band (Makers Studio/Portal A)

Just finished a doozy of a six country shoot over six weeks for Makers Studio and Portal A serving as Director of Photography.  It's a hybrid musical, travel, sketch adventure that takes place in Australia, Mongolia, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines.  The project stars the massively talented Gregory Brothers and you can visit their channel here

This was a complex shoot for a variety of different reasons:  1) We had an interesting blend of doc and music video styles here that are a challenge to blend. 2) Power access and just general production support was limited, especially in Mongolia. 3) Camera operator Rin Ehlers and myself were running audio and shooting the majority of the project.

Camera Systems: We chose the Canon C500 and Canon 1DC to be our main workhorse cameras on this project. I love the Canon look and I've been a major fan of the Canon C300 for a majority of my documentary work, but we had access to the C500 on this one so I picked the C500 for the added 12 bit 4:4:4 color depth. The C500 also gave us 2K 60FPS if needed while still maintaining much of the ergonomics of the C300 that I have come to love.

One of the negatives of the C500, however, was the loss of the side handle (replaced by cooling vents) that is present in the C300 and C100. I did miss that, but it didn't take long to get used to its absence.

By far, my favorite DSLR of the last several years has been the Canon 1DC. Thanks to its internal C-Log (Flat color profile comparable to Sony's S-Log), 4K and portable form factor (same as the 1DX) I've had a love affair with this camera for a while. I knew we would have moments where having a more stealthy, compact, weather resistance body would be necessary and the 1DC gave us that. Beyond that, the camera matches well with the C500 and the 1DC also (with some finesse by operator Rin Ehlers) can fit on the new Ronin M 3-axis gimbal. 

A Common Language: In both South Korea and Japan we had the opportunity to hire several additional crew members to assist us. We added G&E (Grip and Electric) as well a C-cameras in both countries and it was a welcome surprise, that through hand signals and some basic miming, we were able to find a common language to work with that really served the end product.  And, in Seoul, we even added a jib team for some great shots along the river. See below: 

Ronin M:  This was my first time using the smaller cousin of the Ronin, the Ronin M, from DJI and it handled the Sony A7S and 1DC well. The 1DC was a tight squeeze and with a Zeiss 15mm lens we were just at the weight limit or slightly over. This particular three-axis gimbal feels perfect for a Canon 5D MK III, but anything larger (such as the 1DC) is right at the edge of its operational range. 

Why take it? Well, we knew we would be running around all over the world and the Ronin M's small size and low weight (carbon fiber versus full metal on the larger Ronin) was a huge draw. My business partner, wife and camera op served as primary operator with the Ronin and the results were fantastic. 



When/Where can I watch? The planned released is November, 2015. I'll post information on where to see the project when I have it.