IMG_0519We are often asked what kind of equipment do we use on the show.  Well, I’m not going to give away any ancient Chinese secrets but I will give you a bit of a peek behind the curtain.

After we were funded by Ryan & Sarah Welch and the Udy family, It was time to begin assembling our kit for the jumps.  Remember, Chet, Jerry and myself had never really done anything quite like this in our careers.  All we had made previously were narrative films that were released in theaters or on television.  This was going to be completely new.

Going into it, Chet and I had two main goals:

  1. We wanted to bring something original to the documentary category… to make it entertaining and not just a stale history lesson.
  2. We didn’t want any cut aways to professionally lit interviews.  We wanted to grab the viewer by the collar and take them with us on this journey and never let go till the credits scrolled.

Other than these two agenda items, we had no idea what our small crew would face… heck, we didn’t even know how large of crew to bring.  Did I say this was a new experience?

Our director of photography, Tristan Whitman began looking at cameras.  They had to be small.  They needed to look like something a tourist would have but have the quality we would need in a professional looking film.  We looked at loads of cameras but ultimately landed on the Black Magic Pocket Cinema cameras.pcc

These little machines took our breath away.  The quality vs. size was outrageous.  So much so that I don’t think we could have shot this film even 5 years prior.  We decided we would have three Black Magic cameras that would be operated independently by different cameramen.  Each of the operators have a series of standard Lumix lenses ranging from 12mm-150mm.

Now we needed some sound gear.  We opted for 1258363975four sets of Sennheiser G4 wireless systems with Countryman Mics.  These attached to a Zoom recorder seemed a good matchup and completed the sound system.  Later we would discover that the wireless systems were inadequate due to their 40 foot distance requirements so we changed up to some recording packs that we strap onto our operators, which record all day.  Needless to say, we have a LOT of worthless audio and some rather embarrassing bits as well.

Next, lights.  We knew we wouldn’t be able to haul anything with much punch so we opted for small LED banks that are mounted on our Shape camera rigs.  They take the same LP-E6 batteries that are externally mounted on our rigs too.  No need for multiple batteries chargers.

Now, onto the undercover gear.  Here’s where I’m gonna hold back a few trade secrets for our team’s safety.  But I will tell you we bought all sorts of gear from various “undercover” commercial websites and nearly all of it was junk.  Don’t be fooled by the imposters.  In this realm you truly do get what you pay for.  Generally speaking, the more expensive stuff is better.

We have watches, glasses, bottles, motion sensors, smoke detectors, and much, much more where we hide cameras.  That’s as far as I’m gonna go.  If you’ve seen the film then you’ll know how many camera angles we have.  If you’re a bad guy reading this just know that you’ll never see it coming but we’re watching you all the time.

Following those cameras we have an army supply of Contour cameras that are nearly indestructible.  We love these things cause we can put them anywhere and beat them.  They’re water proof and tubular so we can fit them in small places.  A big thank you to Contour for supplying them.IMG_0517

We have some hero lipstick cameras that are of a similar design as the Contours but they have a much better picture… but they’re not as indestructible.IMG_4560

Lastly, where would any production like this be without a drone, right?  We bought the DJI Phantom II and have always been blown away by their products.  A great company to work with.  Mounted on the drone is a Hero4 Gopro with a Zeus gimbal for stabilization.  Although I’m a big fan of the Gopro’s picture, I seriously can’t stand their proprietary mounding devices… Its ‘s frustrating that I’m actually going to mention it here in the blog.  Why they don’t just use the same industry standard mounting screw that fits on everything else is ridiculous…  I HATE IT!  Now I’m forced to take a bag full of specialized Gopro mounts that nothing else can use.  Okay, I’m done with my rant.

We had to get all this gear within a week so we could get ready for the first jump!  What an exciting time!  Packages arriving every day and the first jump jitters beginning to swell in the pit of our stomachs… it was AWESOME!!!!

© 2016 The Abolitionists Movie

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