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DV spells extreme success for Black Magic

Extreme event coverage, by its fast-paced, in-your-face nature, usually means breaking with convention in terms of camera placement and the amount of gear you can stick in front of a potentially out-of-control car, boat or bike. That’s why the size and cost of DV makes it ‘extreme’s’ format of choice.bmm_extremedv2

Convention, however, reigns back in the edit suite, when it comes to seamlessly editing ‘extreme’ footage with broadcast-quality fixed camera shots.

When Producer Paul Mullan from Black Magic Media conceived the concept of shooting an extreme Sport Jet Program (with Canadian boat builder Eagle Racing) involving three world champion jet boat racers going ballistic on Red Deer River, near Alberta, Canada, he had to combine ‘riverside DVCAM’ footage with helicopter and shore-mounted DVCPRO50 images.

Mullan and his team were in Canada to cover the World Jet Boat Marathon in Alberta. The ensuing extreme doco’ saw world champ Rob Chrunyk from Canada and former title-holders Mark Cromie (NZ) and Leo Wright (USA), perform three jet boat stunts: fallen log jumping, beaver-dam jumping, and high speed ‘follow-the-leader’ through inch-deep water.bmm_extremedv3

Co-director Ronni Leigh stood knee deep in Red River, behind a PDX-10 and Miller SOLO carbon fibre tripod, capturing close-up, slow-mo footage as the boats ‘got air’ over the dams, while 3 x Panasonic AJD-910’s handled up-, mid- and downstream duties. On-board cameras on all three boats provided POV while a helicopter covered ‘follow-the-leader’ action from above.

“The first advantage of the SOLO/ PDX10 combination was portability,” explains Mullan. “You could walk into the water, set up, and not put expensive equipment at risk if things got out of control.”

He continued, “But most importantly SOLO gave us the ability to get quality shots to complement the broadcast images we captured on the 910’s. Effectively, it was a mini-broadcast rig.”

Mullan believes good light, a stable image, and fluid pan and tilt movements go a long way towards bringing DVCAM into line with traditional broadcast footage. “Often the difference is using a tripod and not shooting in bad lighting conditions.”

The PDX-10 and SOLO were given a complete workout during the shoot. Mullan was quick to point out the difference between a ‘stills-like tripod’ and a ‘true fluid head on a video tripod’.

“We used a varied range of shots, using full pan and tilt actions. It makes a big difference using the Miller DS10 fluid head compared to a non-fluid, or ‘fluid-style’ head. Usually the giveaway in DVCAM is camera movement. This tripod has overcome that problem.”

Extreme reputation grows

Black Magic Media cover a wide range of broadcast and corporate projects, but their skills in sports coverage have more recently rewarded with prestigious projects including the Manchester Commonwealth Games Baton Relay, the Australian Formula Extreme Superbike series and the Dunlop Targa New Zealand Rally.bmm_extremedv

Paul and his crew have used the PDX10 and SOLO on a number of shoots, using the height range and portability of the tripod to get the ‘up-close’ and potentially risky shots. “Lee Henderson (pictured mid-road) got some great shots in New Zealand covering the Variety Bash (Charity car rally) where he got down an dirty shooting long pans of cars coming around the corner.”

Mullan summed up why he uses the SOLO. “The camera makers have closed the gap on broadcast cameras. With SOLO, Miller has closed the gap so you don’t give away the fact you’re using a Handycam.”