I’m off to Senegal to shoot a short documentary on the volunteer work of my friend Dr. Al Ruenes. Al is a urologist who regularly visits Senegal to teach new techniques to surgeons from all over Africa, and while he’s there, does a whole slew of pro bono procedures for Senegalese patients.
Also coming is renowned plein air artist Bob Beck. He’s going to make paintings of the trip, I’m going to make the short video, and when we get back, we’re going to try to use this stuff to raise money for an operating theater Al hopes to fund in Dakar.
Originally, my son Brian was coming along to do the video duties, and I was just doing stills and audio. But then, young Brian had to go and get a great new gig as an associate producer for a new series at Discovery Channel and couldn’t get the time off.
(Oh sure, let a little thing like a major career move get in the way of a trip with the old man….sheesh, these kids!)
So it’s up to me to do my one-man band routine.
I’m only mildly panicked, as I’ve spent a lot of the summer studying up, shooting a lot of video to try to get my chops somewhat up to snuff. Even at that, I’ve got a long way to go as a videographer, but I’m ready as I’ll ever be by tonight, anyway!
And just like in my still shooting, I’ve been researching and finding the smallest, most reasonably-priced stuff that will do the job right.
So it’s going to be a little quiet on the blog for the rest of the month. And comment moderation could be very slow, so if you post a comment and it doesn’t show up for a while, it is nothing more nefarious than a bad or non-existent internet connection in my location!
For a look at the gear I’ll be bringing on this one man band gig, hit the jump.
My bag is the Lowepro Outback 300 AW. It’s a great little bag, part waistpack, part sling bag, that fits a ton of stuff and carries well for those of us with bad backs. Here’s what it’s loaded with:
(2) Nikon D300s bodies, 16-85mmVR, 35mm f/1.8, 85mm f/1.8, 50-150mm f/2.8 Sigma (my Nikkor teles are just too long, physically, to fit in the bag the way I have to configure it to hold all this stuff)
Also, a 77 mm Singh Ray Vari ND filter with adapter ring to allow shooting at wide apertures outdoors.
(2) Sanyo Xacti HD 2000 HD camcorders, with WA and fisheye adapters—beautiful tiny little MPEG 4 HD cameras that shoot stills too. Weird pistol shape (gonna be fun at security), sharp lens (but poorly coated and tough in backlight). This is a Mac friendly format (1080p in 30 or 60Fps, 720p in 30fps) camcorder with mic and earphone inputs, audio level controls, exposure override, all the bells and whistles of a high end mini camcorder. HDSLR video is great, but if you have to move fast, a camcorder still wins in terms of convenience and fast reaction time.
In fact, that little Xacti HD 2000 was so good that when Panasonic took over Sanyo, they discontinued it, because it was one third the price of similarly featured Panasonics that only have 1080 interlaced video in AVCHD (not a favorite format). So of course, the Sanyo had to die! Too bad.
Also in the bag: Sennheiser MKE 400 mini shotgun, Olympus LS-10 Audio Recorder, Koss Portapro Stereo Headphones, Litepanels MicroPro LED On-Camera light, a Coolux hotshoe bracket that holds the mic and the recorder, and for interviews, a Sound Professionals lav mic and long extension cord, and a Sony UWP-V1 Wireless Lav Mic package. I’ve also got a Hoodman Cinema Kit Pro loupe setup for the D300s. This is not as elegant as a Zacuto finder, but it does the job, is far cheaper, and adjusts to any camera without using frames.
I’ll be taking two tripods along—a full sized (but lightweight, very reasonably priced and with a great leveling fluid head—man you need a leveling head for video) Slik DV Travel Pro and a Gorillapod Focus with a small ballhead that can act as a small tripod, but can also be used as a kind of portable camera brace…you put one leg up on your shoulder and use the other two as handles to help fight the shakes. Very versatile item, and again, cheaper than a Zacuto rig.
Of course, there’s the computer bag, a Think Tank Airport International, with the laptop and all the assorted chachkes.
Now, all I need is a place to pack my knee cymbals, harmonica holder, kazoo, and ukelele, and I’ll have this one-man band thing down cold!