Hey guys, Drew here to go over a bit of the tech/production side of the Little Freddie and D4 BTS videos, the gear we used, and hopefully clear up a few questions.
First and foremost, this was definitely an amazing assignment for all of us at the studio to have been a part of. Having started working for Joe after the D3 campaign, I was excited at even the thought of being involved with a project like the D4 campaign.
Faces of Ground Zero was our first serious video effort at the studio. Though the setups were fairly basic, it was a proving ground of sorts for ourselves. We essentially had no clue what we were getting into, but came out with a final product that was effective, and we were happy with…
When Nikon Japan approached us about shooting a chunk of the D4 campaign, producing a multimedia piece, and shooting BTS video, we definitely had a few drinks. Initially, and right up until the last day on location, we were 50/50 stoked and nervous. As the “tech guy” in the studio, it often comes down to me to figure out the video side of things, and this was most definitely something we needed to hit out of the park.
A huge thanks goes out to Manfrotto, and specifically to Marco Tortato for introducing us to, and supplying us with a whole new realm of video supports we used on this shoot.
We also turned to Victor Ha and Brian Hynes at Cinevate for insight and inspiration. After a few hour-long phone calls, and a bunch of tutorial videos later, we more or less knew what gear we needed to pull this off. Cinevate was cool enough to send us a bunch of amazing gear to play with.
I can’t begin to emphasize the importance of pre-production- finding a location, building a story-line, storyboarding, etc. Lynn came across a plantation home just outside of New Orleans, which sounded amazing- but being that our timeline was extremely tight, we didn’t actually see the location, or even meet Little Freddie til the day before we started shooting. *Luckily*, things came together as we had hoped- the location was simply beautiful, and we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect subject.
To build the general storyline, we did a 30-45 min. interview with Little Freddie, just before the primary video shoot- which we shot with three cameras (see above). The remaining video was shot entirety within the next 5-7 hours. We had him play 3 songs on the porch, which Grippi and I shot with two cameras, and then worked on tons of environmental shots and B-roll.
Throughout the whole process, we strived to keep as simple of a gear pack and setup as possible. Here’s a basic rundown of the essential gear we used for the videos, and timeline examples of how/where we used them in the Little Freddie video:
- Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Video Head w/546B Aluminum Tripod (heavy duty tripod with an amazing head…incredibly smooth horizontal and vertical pans. i.e. 0:27)
- Manfrotto 561BHDV Video Monopod w/ Fluid Head (great for small spaces, quick repositioning of shots, and fairly simple tilts and zoome. i.e. 2:00, 2:14)
- Cinevate Simplis Pro Shoulder Rig (ideal for smooth, run & gun shooting, and can easily pop on and off a tripod. i.e. 0:40, 0:51)
- Cinevate Atlas 10 35″ Camera Slider (fairly compact slider that was the perfect choice when there wasn’t much room or time to set up. i.e. 0:18)
- Cinevate Atlas 30 58″ Camera Slider (much longer, incredibly smooth slider, which we used the majority of the time. i.e. 0:37, 1:42- raised on stands about 8 feet, 2:04)
- Sennheiser EW100 G3 Wireless Lavalier Microphone System (for the interview, we double-lavved Freddie, each on a different channel)
- Rode NTG-2 Condenser Shotgun Microphone (for the interviews, the Rode played the roll of a 3rd mic, and for Freddie playing, this was the only mic used)
- Zoom H4n Mobile 4-Track Recorder (we recorded all songs using the Rode mic, plugged into the Zoom, and as backup audio during the interview)
- Westcott Spiderlite TD6 Continuous Output Halogen/Fluorescent Light (used for sit-down interview footage shot of Joe)
- Litepanels MicroPro LED Dimmable 5600K Video Light (used on, or just off-camera during BTS shooting at the circus and snake shoots)
- Manhattan LCD 8.9″ HD Pro Monitor (this played an essential roll in composing shots, especially when doing very high or low slides or pans)
Overall, it was a fairly basic gear pack, and being that this is a new world for us, was perfect for a few reasons. It allowed us to work quickly and efficiently, and it meant that we could put our energy into shooting, and not lugging out tons of grip for every shot.
We’re pretty happy with the outcome, and are looking forward to playing a lot more with the D4 and D800 in the very near future. And many thanks to Mike Corrado at Nikon for shooting the behind the scenes pix above, and being our tech advisor for this whole new adventure.