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jose santos

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A client approached me a while back with an ambitious brief: All slo-mo, all trucking, early magic hour whenever possible, subject: triathletes training on the National Mall in Washington DC USA, a notoriously over-policed location. And there was pretty much no budget. Meaning no permits, no pro hands but me, very limited prep.

Part of the brief included flying a drone over the DC Potomac. We spent money on that, couldn't get the waiver. To be continued.
The intent was to shoot all 120FPS with a cinema camera, ProRes 4444, top glass, and all shots incorporating camera movement with the subjects being swimmers, cyclists and runners.
Fairly tough on pretty much no budget.
After a ton of looking, including talking to a guy with ASC after his name, I concluded Arri Alexa Mini was the only way to go.Then came the mount and stabilization problems.
The rig I came up with consisted of a Cloud Mount, MOVI Pro, Alexa Mini, Zeiss Ultra Primes, everything remote controlled from the bed of a pickup truck, or the deck of a boat.
I originally intended to use the Cloud Mount using its magnets, but between the truck’s body curves and thin steel, it was wiser to go with suction cups. Made me nervous, but worked fine. I did have to up-rate some of the cables on the Cloud Mount as I was pushing the envelope on weight.
We tried our utmost to shoot the magic hour, so close attention to ISO and shutter angle were essential to protect DOF. For the earliest shots, I used 356 degrees, thereby gaining about a stop and a half in exposure latitude to use as I liked.
I opted to stop down as we needed all the help we could get with focus.

Originally I intended to have the producer/director operate the camera while I ran exposure and focus, but MOVI’s Mimic turned out to be a unique challenge in hand-eye coordination and technical management. Moving targets from a moving platform with an unfamiliar and touchy controller. Good times. Mimic was balky, requiring frequent fiddling and resets. We lost a day when the rental house couldn’t make Mimic work at all. The whole thing was extra-tricky as I was the only professional on the gig and had my hands full managing everything from BNC's to LP-E6's. And it was HOT. Danger hot.
So I handed off focus and exposure, and drove the rig. Mixed results there, mainly on focus, but it couldn’t be helped.
Out of pocket for rented gear, excluding the borrowed truck and boat? $3K USD.
Shot the stills too, Pentax 645Z, RAW, three big old Metz's with a distinctly 1970's vibe.
Go ahead. Be brutal. The green cast DID NOT happen in-camera. Client.
Here goes:


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I'm probably the least qualified person here to comment technically, so this is more of an ordinary viewer response -


- Your skin tones etc still look great with the green cast. It made feel like I was watching through a pair of sunglasses like the ones the athletes wore. Was that the client's idea?


- I'd have had no idea that it wasn't a big budget shoot. None. And sound was up to the quality of the video.


- The one thing that didn't work was some of the editing. The jumps in the first 11 seconds seem pointless and they made me stop the film and re-start because I thought there was a problem. Ditto the jumps while diving - they just break up the smooth motion for no reason I understood and while I was wondering what the message they were supposed to convey was then I was ignoring the video. There are a couple of seconds slo-mo while swimming that had the same effect.

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Looks great, has a sort of aged film stock look, blue blacks, etc. Shooting with a MOVI with remote focus really is a 2-man job, obviously -- I think your producer should have sprung for an AC... It's not like saying you're going to shoot this doc style with a handheld camera and pulling your own focus, like a news shooter.

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