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Taking Video Production Across Borders


Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Cinematographers and directors are notorious for bringing along all sorts of video production gear that doesn’t ever get used. That’s not a criticism – it’s common on any set to have an equipment van where all of the crew can house their expensive lenses, rs, rigs that create those amazing shots that are expected of a high-end commercial production company. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Taking Video Production Across Borders

Taking Video Production Across Borders

  • Before I take off from my video production
    company HQ here in Toronto, I remind myself that
    any good producer, director or DP evaluates their
    mental check-list on all of the necessary pieces
    of equipment you need to bring on set.
  • Obviously, if a major component of your job is
    supplying videography services you are going to
    need a camera, tripod, microphones, etc, to be
    able to capture the best audio-visual moments of
    your day on set.
  • But what about when you arent shooting in your
    hometown or even your home country? What then?
    Back in 2010 my film production company was given
    an amazing opportunity to travel to Uganda, East
    Africa, to create a video series for a local
    Toronto based charity, Guluwalk.
  • Then again, in 2012, I was asked to depart for
    the neighbouring country of Kenya to help create
    a separate video series on establishing hospitals
    and libraries in the rural areas of the country.

Bring Only What You Need
  • Sounds simple, doesnt it? Cinematographers and
    directors are notorious for bringing along all
    sorts of video production gear that doesnt ever
    get used. Thats not a criticism its common on
    any set to have an equipment van where all of the
    crew can house their expensive lenses, sliders,
    rigs that create those amazing shots that are
    expected of a  high-end commercial production
  • However, when you are traveling by yourself you
    simply need to limit the gear youre muling
    around as a matter of biology, physics and budget
    so make sure youre maximizing carrying capacity
    in a realistic way. I decided to only take what I
    could visibly manage. When it came time to pack
    my gear, I grabbed my go-to ultra-portable 5D
    Mark III DSLR, Macbook and SD cards, basic lens
    package, tripod and made sure I kept it to

Research, Research, Research
  • Before you set out on your adventure, make sure
    you take time and research a little bit of the
    country you are going to. If you are going to a
    developing country, you will want to go to find
    some more information on the current climate,
    health warnings, political issues and general
    laws. In the past I always used the Canadian
    Consulate for travel advisories before taking any
    contract abroad.
  • You can find more information here on their
    website travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories. You
    will also want to speak to a doctor and make sure
    that your immunizations are also in order. Dont
    delay on this either, some vaccines will take up
    to 30 days to take effect and make sure you bring
    the written record with you as you pass through

Start Shooting Your Video Production
  • Now that you have landed in the country it is
    time to start production. In the case of my
    shoots in East Africa, we were shooting outside
    in the rural outback of the country so you are
    going to be dealing with a lot of sunlight.
    Shooting with any compact DSLRs have challenges
    because they are very striped down versions of
    larger ENG broadcast cameras. There are a lot of
    components that videographers use that are absent
    on these smaller HD cameras, such as global
    shutters and ND filters.
  • The ND (Neutral Density) filter is typically
    built into the larger units but on DSLRs you
    fasten them directly on your lens. The filter
    cuts light down so that when you are in brighter
    areas the videographer can still shoot at a low
    aperture like f2.8 f5.6. Personally, I prefer
    to go with a graded variable ND filter, so that
    the videographer can get varying degrees of
    exposure. Another option is to bring a portable
    bounce card or reflector so that when you have
    the hot sun beaming down on you, the reflector
    can bounce the light in ways that make your
    subject much more flattering.

Unobtrusiveness and Focal Length
  • The number one thing I learned when I was
    overseas was learning to be be unseen.
    Obviously, anyone with a big camera running
    around is going to be noticed. The most important
    piece of gear I brought with me was my 70-200mm
    lens. The long focal length allowed me the
    ability to get unique expressions but staying
    back at an anonymous distance.
  • Getting too close ruins any chance for meaningful
    exchange of body language. I personally always
    prefer being on a long lens and observing what
    your subject will do. Ultimately, it is a matter
    of time. You need to spend time with your
    subjects in order gain trust and confidence but
    during this time make sure to take advantage of
    the right focal length, for the right kind of
    footage for your video.
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