Help- shooting in woods/field

Discussion in 'Professional Video Production' started by anthony, Oct 5, 2004.

  1. anthony

    anthony Guest


    I am planning a shoot outdoors for a rescue video and wanted to get some
    ideas on what I should use out in the field. I own a dvcpro camera and
    was considering getting a steadicam provid system. Obviously I want
    adequate video but don't want to get in over my head with this stuff.
    What should I use?

    Anyone have suggestions?
    anthonymd at
    anthony, Oct 5, 2004
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  2. anthony

    MSu1049321 Guest

    You have not given nearly enough description of the project for anyone to make
    more than a generalized recomendation. It could be that for your needs a
    steadicam might be an unnessessary exense. There's no way to tell until you
    spill your guts;-)
    MSu1049321, Oct 6, 2004
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  3. anthony

    anthony Guest

    Haha. Okay. <spill on>
    The project for the most part is a documentary.
    It is centered around a search+rescue group. They train K9's to find
    people who are lost or are deceased. The video will require a lot of
    movement through tough terrain (up/down hills, in/out woods and
    brushes). The idea is to do a walk along with the rescuers as they
    trench in the field. We will probably stick to only one camera and piece
    shots together into a final project.

    I'm hoping to get most of the video during daylight. The group does
    trainings in the evenings a lot and often work on real cases in the
    middle of the night. The documentary will be a motivational tool to get
    people to join the group and/or sponsor them.

    For the most part i am in need to see if using a tripod for such shots
    is even wise. We'll be carrying a lot of bagage as it is. We will be
    shooting on dvcpro and using the onboard mics for the search footage and
    then lav'in in some interviews with the searchers later on.

    Obviously we'll use a tripod for the interviews. The real question is,
    what do we use in the field? Tracks aren't gonna be very possible on
    hilly areas. A tripod probably could do it, but the "feel" of motion
    won't be there at all.

    there. :)
    anthony, Oct 6, 2004
  4. anthony

    gothika Guest

    Stedicam harness.
    gothika, Oct 6, 2004
  5. anthony

    Bill Fright Guest

    You're gonna hate this but I swear it's true... Rent a betacam and make
    it heavy. When I shoot running footage I pile my heavy battery set,
    camera light and wireless gear on the camera and rough it out. The extra
    weight actually helps smooth the image out. I can shoot pretty smooth
    motion at a little faster rate than jogging. You'll also find that low
    angle stuff is more dramatic in the weeds and the extra weight helps
    smooth top handle shooting. What I don't like about steady cam is the
    restriction of camera height. Also this will probably be a training
    drill instead of actually finding some poor dead person so you can stage
    to an extent. The only one not knowing where the target is is the dog.
    Stage your shots accordingly.

    Also, I'd never try something new or experiment on a client. Do it
    instead a week or so before the shoot and learn from what you
    experience. You might even go out with someone and the dog to practice a

    Bill Fright, Oct 6, 2004
  6. anthony

    Derry Argue Guest

    Put the camera in a super market carrier bag with the elns
    sticking out of a hole in the side! I'd also go with the advice
    to add weight. You'll be surprised how good it looks.

    Been there, done that.

    Derry Argue, Oct 6, 2004
  7. anthony

    MSu1049321 Guest

    I think your best bet on this is a monopod. Here's my reasons:

    A tripod will slow you down too much trying to cover this kind of field shoot,
    you will be chasing them more often than getting ahead of their advance and
    anticipating them. But, if you shoot everything in the field off steadicam, I
    think it will look very "nervous" and antsy when contrasted with tripod-shot
    interviews. Perhaps too much so. takes a really experienced guy/gal to make
    steadicam smooth enough you don't notice it. And decent rigs are expensive,
    even just to rent.

    The monopod lets you run and scoot ahead of the handlers and dogs thru the
    brush, then lets you quickly plant the camera and get a tripod-like steadiness
    when they come into view, at dog-eye height or man-eye height.

    You can also use the monopod to occasonally and briefly raise the camera up 6-7
    feet high in the air; that gets you some nice establishing shots and POV shots.

    If you leave the monopod collapsed, but still attached to the cam, it givs a
    stabilizing "pendulum effect" to your handheld shots, indeed, many of the
    cheaper camera-stabilizing units rely on just this effect.

    BandPro sells a monopod called the DuoPod: it's a monopod with a fold-out foot
    plate. You kick it down and step on it, and the monopod becomes as rigid as a
    tripod for the time you hold it, with your body weight on it. The duo-pod
    plate I believe is also sold separately to add to your existing monopod.

    I think this approach will get you the best compromise of quality versus

    You might also consider adding a POV camera to one of the dogs as a novelty. A
    body harness can hold a DV clamshell deck, with the camera mounted to the dog's
    chest on the same harness (head moves too much). Or use a tiny, short-range
    wireless pinhole camera on the dog's collar, the rx and deck in a fanny pack on
    one of your men. is a source.

    You can also "cheat" for a doggie-cam POV by inverting the monopod (may need an
    adapter) so the regular camera is held from above, inches above the ground
    while you carry it from above. Of course, you make that footage black and white
    in post, dogs don't see color, IIRC;-)
    MSu1049321, Oct 6, 2004
  8. anthony

    anthony Guest

    So, which steadicam unit would you go with? I read that the SK is only
    for the little type cameras, so I think I would need a provid for mine.
    Is there enough need for steadicam 'work' in the field that would
    justify the costs? If we do go that route, i'd love to offer the shots
    to work for others in my area.
    anthony, Oct 6, 2004
  9. anthony

    anthony Guest

    I'd be afraid it would rip and the camera would splatter to the ground.
    I do have some rather heavy pro pack anton bauer batteries for it. I'll
    definatly give it a try and see how good the footage is though. Thanks!
    anthony, Oct 6, 2004
  10. anthony

    anthony Guest

    So a steadicam wouldn't be able to really get low shots at all in
    motion? I hadn't thought about it's restriction in that sense. I just
    knew it made some very killer motion movements.

    Yeah... since i'm part of the group, having some experience doing it
    won't be a problem. I don't know how i'd handle lighting in the dark
    though. I often wanted to make a nice "blue" moonlight in dark night
    shots like was used in the volts wagon Cabrio "pink moon" commercial.
    How hard would that be to do? Any lighting recomendations if it is done
    at night?
    anthony, Oct 6, 2004
  11. anthony

    anthony Guest

    I wasn't aware of how hard it would be to get a steadicam to be that
    smooth. They make it look far too easy.
    Incredible idea!!! Thank you! That's definatly a nice addition.
    Actually, some dogs do see some colors. Testing told us my dog sees
    orange more then any other color and he's a mixed lab. :)

    I do have a bogen tripod here that is rather heavy, but it get's very
    high shots. The only problem is that it becomes very shaky (you can see
    the footage shaking) when it's up high. Even when its low and to the
    ground it still shakes. Would the monopod be affected by wind and such
    that it would cause some shakes?

    I definatly need some sort of harness to hold the camera very tight --
    which is why I assumed steadicam was the best bet. The tripod's i've
    used, even my new one, are very shaky on even the little movements.
    anthony, Oct 6, 2004
  12. anthony

    MSu1049321 Guest

    << Testing told us my dog sees
    orange more then any other color and he's a mixed lab. :) >>

    obviously, he works his photoshop in LAB color;-)

    << The only problem is that it becomes very shaky (you can see
    the footage shaking) when it's up high. >>

    How high do you need it? If it's a massive camera on a decent-diameter monopod,
    and you are using the duopod extra foot plate, I reckon it will be steady
    enough unless the winds are really gusting... if you keep it wide on those
    shots, you probably wouldn;t notice a thing. A side benefit is by turning the
    pole, you can pan even when the camera is up high. I think it will be smooth
    enough for you.

    Steadicam is not magic: it's all in the handling of theunit, something that
    only comes with long practice. You must master the "Don Juan" walk while
    carrying it, which tires a person rapidly if they are not in good physical

    test this out: set up your bogen with the legs bound together to simulate a
    monopod. See how hard or easy it would be to pick up and move in this way,
    remembering this is three times heavier than a monopod.
    MSu1049321, Oct 6, 2004
  13. anthony

    gothika Guest

    The steadicam site has all the info on which to use in regards to your
    camera weight and size.
    Just choose the appropriate model steadicam on that.
    you don't HAVE to buy it.
    Either rent one for a day from the nearest AV rental service or shop
    around for a second hand one if your needs are more than an occasional
    shoot.(Back when I worked in film these things were a godsend. I did
    combat camera in the service and it sure helped clean up hand held
    shots, which were 90% of what we did.)
    You'll have to go over and research as it's been nearly 2 decades
    since I myself had to strap one on. It's definitely a young man's game
    and I had younger cameramen doing that chore even when I got out and
    was running my own AV service.
    I do believe that today's rigs are much lighter than even the ones we
    used, and MUCH cheaper.(Our first rigs in the service cost the tax
    payers around 500 bucks a pop and were kinda heavy being for 16 and
    35mm arri's and cps's.)
    gothika, Oct 7, 2004
  14. anthony

    Derry Argue Guest

    I'm a pro dog trainer and make my own training tapes. My first
    tape was made 11 years ago and it is still selling.

    The whole point to dog training is to have a predictable set up.
    In other words, a good trainer will contrive a scene so he knows
    the dog will follow a predetermined pattern of behaviour. He
    wants to cut out the variables because dogs learn by doing
    things and succeeding in achieving their goals. I've made a lot
    of footage single handed by setting the camera up, marking the
    position of the frame with a couple of sticks, then making sure
    the action takes place within that frame and in focus. It is a
    hell of a lot easier when you have an independent cameraman or
    are not handling the dogs as well!

    I am currently shooting a video on mushing (sled dogs) and
    prefer to use a tripod as much as I can. If I can't use a tripod
    and can't use wide angle to minimise camera movement, I go the
    other way and steadily move the camera between subjects. With
    today's cameras it is possible to keep running and do most of
    the film making at the editing stage.

    You need to spend some time watching what the trainers do when
    they are left to get on with it. You then need to explain the
    shots you want to the trainer and how you can best achieve them.
    He will probably be able to adapt the action to fit your
    requirements. If you KNOW what the training is intended to
    achieve, you will be able to mock up some of it in editing.

    What I am getting at is, your video will be explaining that the
    dog is (for example) searching for a body in an earthquake area.
    That can be mocked up with some footage of the dog searching for
    treats in an area of a derelict building. It doesn't need a
    body or an earth quake! Film is all about convincing the
    audience that what you are showing them is the truth where in
    fact you are telling a story. In the above scenario, it would be
    nice to include some actual footage of an earthquake, but that
    wouldn't be essential with some convincing voice over.

    It is going to need imagination. Yes, the supermarket bag idea
    works and if one bag will tear, put half a dozen inside one
    another. Film making is story telling; story telling is
    innovation, invention, and deception. Just because Father
    Christmas doesn't really exist doesn't mean the story won't
    enthall kids for generations to come.

    Derry Argue, Oct 7, 2004
  15. Derry,

    What fun.

    I got a chance to spend a week taping sled-dog teams in the mountains
    above Aspen Colorado winter before last.

    It was on of my most enjoyable shoots.

    At the risk of telling you stuff you already know, I was surprised by a
    lot of stuff that I hadn't expected.

    I'd envisioned getting more "side by side" footage following the teams
    as they ran. But in most of the snowpack it was impossible to go
    off-trail without snowshoes! Any more than five feet off the packed
    trail and I'd sink HIP DEEP in the snowpack - and our snowmobiles would
    do the same!

    At least for this shoot, I was surprised at how poor a camera platform
    snowmobiles turned out to be.

    We had MUCH better luck with a four-wheel "quad runner" type rig with
    tire chains. Much more stable. And it had a metal "box" cargo back that
    we could use as a tripod platform during stops.

    We also had great success Mafer-clamping a small fluid tripod head to
    the handlebar struts and mounted a PD-100a to it and got some excellent
    "running shots" with that rig.

    That and the larger camera used by my primary camera op shooting from
    another leading or trailing sled got us some great footage.

    Again, this is stuff you probably already know, but it was such fun that
    I'm glad to have a chance to mentally re-live the shoot!

    (I miss those dogs too. Great teams!!)

    Have a great time doing this!
    William Davis, Oct 7, 2004
  16. anthony

    Derry Argue Guest

    You're right! Here (north of Scotland) most of the running is
    done with wheeled rigs on tracks through the forestry because
    of shortage of snow. If you do a google there were some
    discussions here about "rough terrain filming".

    I ended up removing the rear door of a Land Rover and suspending
    the camera from the roof with four bungie cords. I rested my
    arms on a small platform weighted with a lump of steel and hand-
    held the camera. Working with a blanket over my head, the
    easiest way was to shoot looking at the flip out screen on the
    PD150. It worked great!

    Of course, I also got shots from the rig behind the team but mud
    and stones flung up from feet was a problem. As you say, side
    shots are more difficult as the team flashes past and the shot
    is soon over IF you can get the tripod set up where you want it
    in time.

    I haven't started editing yet but there is some exciting
    footage. Looks especially good in slow motion. I will be audio
    recording a dinner for mushers at the weekend and will be just
    leaving the tape running to see what happens. The idea is to use
    relevant material as voice over.

    Derry Argue, Oct 7, 2004
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