The Sony FS700 is a camera that continues to impress me. When asked to shoot a documentary about a guy who is 5'5″ and can dunk we knew we wanted to shoot some of the scenes in slow motion. With the budget and time constraints, the FS700 was our camera. More importantly than the actual camera, we needed to choose the best angles to capture Brandon dunking and the right shots of him in the gym.
Story has to be the most important part of any video. After the director and producer did a pre interview, they knew they had a story and knew how they wanted to tell it. Here's a quick background of Brandon Todd. He's 5'5″ and taught himself how to dunk. To put this in another perspective, his vertical jump is higher than LeBron James. Although he didn't go professional, he has had a successful career and now puts his efforts in helping young athletes accomplish their goals.
Knowing all of this helps us choose locations, lighting and the general mood. We wanted it to be dramatic but end with some inspiration. The way you light, camera movement and music all come together to help tell the story of Brandon Todd.
Assemble the Team
Ok great we got a story, now what? Pick the right people for your crew. This was one full day, no budget and needed some great people to pull it off. Our director Chris wrote a great post on that which you can read here. When picking a team it is important to make sure they are on the same page and you have roles clearly outlined. This keeps egos in check and people happy (hopefully). We had an amazing team and really added to the project. I was proud to be a part of it.
Now on to the fun stuff.. GEAR!
Gear and Tech Stuff
Our set up was pretty simple. The following list outlines what we used:
- Sony FS700
- Canon 7D
- Arri hot lights (1k, 650, 300, 150)
- Tilta Handheld Rig and follow focus
- Marshall 5″ Monitor
- Panasonic 9″ Monitor
- DJI Phantom and GoPro 3
- Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8
- Sigma 30mm f/1.4
- Canon 24-70 L f/2.8
- Canon 70-200L II f/2.8
- Nikon 85mm f/1.8
- Lensbaby Muse 50mm
- Manfrotto Tripods
- Move Your Camera Slider
Most of this was shot handheld. We wanted an in your face feel and put you in the gym with Brandon. The Tilta rig worked great and gave me a lot of flexibility on how shaky or smooth we wanted the shot to be. When shooting the dunking sequence, we put the camera on the slider. We wanted the movement to be subtle and slow to have the viewer focus on how high Brandon actually jumped. Check out the graphic below to see the 3 angles we chose to capture the dunking.
Most of the shoot was done with the trusty Sigma 17-50 f/2.8. The focal range was perfect for tracking Brandon on the court and even in the gym. The 2.8 was a little slow for some of the gym shots (we wanted it dark and moody) so I was able to achieve those shots with the Sigma 30mm f/1.4. Awesome lens and acts as a 50mm with the sensor crop. I'll get into the DJI Phantom in another post because it deserves it. I will say that it was amazing to get an aerial shot in less than 15 minutes. Although the story is the most important part of the video, you need the right gear to get the job done. Now for the post peeps!
Our director Chris took care of the editing as he knew exactly what he wanted and has the skills to make it happen. He did however get our lighting director Anthony to color it in DaVinci Resolve. Boy, did they run into some problems. Not only does Resolve hate AVCHD, but it doesn't do well with all the various frame rates. After a few failed attempts to make it work Chris and Anthony found the answer. Chris sent an EDL and ProRes HQ file which Anthony imported to Resolve. He was able to cut out the different scenes and get to work. Was definitely worth the effort.
I hope you all enjoy the video below. Let me know if you have any thoughts or questions! You can find out more on the cast and crew by visiting the official website.
(cover photo credit: snap from the video)