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Gears and Specs

PLEASE NOTE: this page was written by #ChasingCurrents one and only Roy Fochtmann. He was kind enough to let me use his words, and images to speak for himself.

Take it from here, Roy!

Since I’m cleaning up gear already

I wanted to tell you what gear went on the tour with us… We had 130kg of film equipment, which is a lot when you are only using a small boat and two bicycles to transport it.

So let’s start with the cameras and lenses. First things first: We took 6 cameras with us, but we only used 5 (The GoPro never saw the light).

TarzanRoy and the A-Cam

The A-Cam:
For this project I bought a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro. I have to say that I really like this camera, it’s a big upgrade from the BMPCC4K: It has an EF-Mount, internal NDs (Which was incredible useful and I’m not getting back to a camera without internal NDs for documentaries!), a 1000nits bright 5’’ display, and of course, it records BRAW at 6k resolution. Don’t underestimate the amount of data that this camera will generate, even while using Q5 compression. I wanted to have a really clean setup, so I bought 2x Wise 512GB C-Fast 2.0 cards instead of using some cheaper external SSD.


The lenses:
Most of the time, I was shooting with the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8, its a super versatile lens (even though it would be nice to have some extra 15mm to get to 50mm), and it’s not so heavy at around 800g. The weight of the lenses played a major roll in the lens selection, since I knew I was going to use a gimbal a lot. The tele lens is an old Canon 70-200mm f/4 at also around 800g. The similar weight and size of the lenses made the gimbal calibration way easier.

The Gimbal:
Actually I had pre-ordered the new DJI Ronin RS3 Pro, but a few days before leaving the gimbal was still not there. So last minute I decided to buy the “older” RS2 Pro. Balancing the BMPCC6KP on a gimbal is not such an easy task, specially when you also have to mount a shotgun mic, a tentacle Sync-E and a second focus motor. It took me a long time to get it right, but once it was calibrated and balanced, it worked really well. At the end the gimbal setup had a weight of 5kg. The gimbal was a big help, even at long focal lengths and high speeds. We even made some shots at 200mm while traveling at 35 km/h with our boat Floaty, and even though it’s not an easy task, it worked.

The A-Cam on the water. Thankfully it never plunged into it.

The B-Cam:
The “Land Unit” mostly used the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 4K. After a few days we decided to rename our units, to step away of the normal hierarchie of filmmaking, so we called our units “water unit” and “land unit” instead of first and second unit. The B-Cam was in charge of capturing the atmosphere of the places we went through, while the A-Cam was mostly focused on our protagonist Annie. The B-cam was also used for some key moments where it was necessary to shoot with two cameras at the same time. The B-Cam was mostly used on a tripod or as a handheld cam.

The Lenses:
For my BMPCC4K I have a full set of old analog Canon FD lenses. The mount is not converted to EF, it’s still the original mount. I use a Metabones Speedbooster to adapt them and gain some more light and fight against the MFT’s 2x Crop Factor, so I end up having around 1,4x. I love the look of the FDs, but since they are all prime lenses and you need time to change lenses etc, I decided that the land unit will make better use of them (The A-Cam needed to be super versatile with the zoom lenses).

The C-Cam:
Our third camera is the Sony A7 III, that I bought used from my film college @ole_diebold (—> Go check out his insane videos). We used this camera for all our behind the scenes photos and videos, mostly with a Samyang 35mm f/2.8 lens.

The D-Cam:
For some aerial shots, we used a DJI Mavic Air 2 drone, we called him Drowny. We used it only in two situations during our whole expedition. Having a drone for filmmaking is of course a great tool, but I don’t like to overuse it.

The last two cams:
@thebotbeyondthebrainz took a DJI Osmo Cam 2 for some “selfie filming”, which we hope she specially used during the days we were not able to film with her 😅 We had to give her a replacement for Wall-E: the first Osmo Cam that she killed. (Well, it was not her, it was the water.) And last but not least: A GoPro that we literally never used. I wanted to send it back from the beginning, but we kept taking it with us just in case, just in case, just in case. But… That case never came.

The A-Cam and Gimbal may work without requiring Mate tea… but Roy doesn’t!

And last but not least – the sounds of a movie…

To be prepared for an adventure with all kind of physical demands Max decided to go as safe and flexible as it can get.

The Sound Device Mix Pre 3 II proved to be worthy for this type of working environment. Specially because it doesn’t necessarily need a bag with straps that has to go over shoulder. He basically used a simple tool belt (20 bucks at the hardware store) to attach it around the hips. So he could easily remove it with one click and attach it to the handlebar of the bicycle or parts of the boat. This way the control surface was always in reach but never in the way.

LAV Microphones were essential because the boom was barely possible to handle. So body microphones had to be plenty as well as safe and sound. @thebotbeyondthebrainz was wearing different layers and types of clothes so Max attached one Microphone for each layer. Sometimes up to 3 Mics for one Person. The Favourite choice was Annie’s Cap. But Annie doesn’t like caps when wearing helmets -.-
Still there were the backup mics.
One mic was transmitted to the sound device the others were recorded locally. Thank god we live in a time where some heroic engineers from @tentacle_sync invented the TRACK-E! Combining the Sync-Es with the Track-Es gave us a lot of freedom during the shooting, since the Track-E is able to record internally in Float, so we don’t even need to correct the gain! And everything can be synced in the post with just one click using Timecode 😍

Max used the boom (with a beautiful Schoeps mic inside) and some stereo mics to capture the atmosphere of the places we went through, and also to collect some unique sounds.

When sound and video come together… the movie often flies.
Adapted proverb. Stolen from.. somewhere.