HiDef hunts with SOLO VJ
The words that came from the London Production office of Lion Television were "lightweight and portable". There were to be small boats, small planes and lots of hoofing it through thick tropical forest. So the tone was set for the weeks spent in PNG filming a new international HiDef series, "Guns Germs & Steel" fronted by Jared Diamond.
I checked the kit - it was as lightweight and portable as I could make it, however taking my Miller HD tripod was worth a second thought and although it has traveled with me for many years, I felt that before I left, I should have a chat to Miller about taking a lighter Solo VJ. Shooting wildlife with a 300mm lens meant that I needed a serious set of legs but they had to light and compact so that I could ask anyone to carry them any time. It was a good choice. The lightweight design plus the ability to shoot low to the ground meant that the Solo VJ was all I'd need.
The days began around 4.30am seated up the front of the flat bottom tinny for the breezy two hour trip up the Fly River to walk to the remote villages that make up the core of this series - it's about the way the people there go about everyday life - scratching in the ground, planting and harvesting – the way it’s been for thousands of years in this part of the world.
Pictured left: Pieter (right) with freelance British director Tim Lambert in the same village again. A lot of shooting took place in this particular village as you can see. He is the director of the series "Guns, Germs & Steel"
I was impressed so much by the VJ. What worked for me was being able to slam it down anywhere without a spreader to get tangled in long grass or lost in knee deep mud. To be able to leave it’s tube legs extended to my comfortable working height only adjusting the leg angles to get low. By removing the Arrow HD head and placing the VJ over the shoulder with the carry strap it made the work very lightweight indeed.
Pictured left: Pieter (left) and camera assistant Alex Morrison in a village near Goroka. Goroka is the capital of the Eastern Highlands province of Papua New Guinea. This was one of the two locations used for the filming of "Guns, Germs & Steel"