On Monday I had the opportunity to shoot a music video for Cody Karey at the Harbour Dance Centre in Vancouver, right on Granville Street. It was a simple concept and involved a few shots with a corvette outside the studio and the rest was inside. We had 4 hours set aside for the shooting and I knew with makeup, hair and set decorating it would be tight for time. I also wanted to try out my DJI Ronin and new Atlas Camera Support system. I have been using the Ronin for a while but haven’t used it in a larger scale production where we would be strapped for time. One of my main philosophies of gear that I have, is that it should not get-in-the-way of shooting. It should only make things smoother, quicker and a more effective way to tell a story. I knew the Ronin required more setup and its case is quite heavy. I hired Chris and Sean, both of whom I have known for some time and are no strangers to the filmmaking world. We have worked together on many projects and with their help, we were able to shoot and light both effectively and efficiently.
We shot with both the Canon 5dm3 and the Panasonic GH4 on the Ronin. The Atlas Camera Support paired with the DJI Ronin is fantastic. I was using the GH4 and shooting at 60fps in order to have the option of slowing it down for some dramatic slow motion shots.
I also shot a bit of 4K as well as shooting time was an issue, but I won’t get into that. I was using the single rod option for the Atlas Camera Support and it gave me the flexibility to pan and tilt, while keeping the camera at my head level. I did a few shots without it as I wanted to get some of Cody’s feet walking. These shots were tricky to get as my arms were taking the full weight of the Ronin. I also used the Atlas Camera Support for a few takes of Cody playing the piano. The Atlas was fantastic, it allowed me to create smooth movement and not put too much stress on my arms. I was not dying at the end of each take. I also managed to pull off a few crane like shots by bending forward and then standing straight up again, they turned out alright and usable. The Atlas Camera Support is very easy to setup and use. Though it does take a lot of the camera weight, I still wouldn’t let the Ronin hang directly from it. With a heavier gimbals such as a Ronin it is a must to have a support system that can allow for longer takes and creative freedom. One of my favorite shots was when I followed our lead actress, Emma, from the hallway, into the studio. From there she did a twirl as she walked up to the piano, and ran her finger along it. The shot ends with her looking out the window at the Voque Theatre across the street. With this camera setup I was able to follow the action, moving from close up to medium shot as the scene dictated for a smooth, seamless shot. This drastically increased the production value of the overall piece and enhanced the “classy” and “elegant” feel that we were going for. I will hopefully post a link to this shot shortly.
Our shoot did go over time, but once we got shooting we were very effective as a team and were able to incorporate the Ronin successfully into the shoot. Within 3-5 minutes we were able to switch from the Ronin to a monopod or another setup. It was quick and didn’t get in the way, it made the project better. The whole shoot reminded me how important it is to have a good cohesive team. A team of dependable people who support you and your vision for the film, which is more valuable than any piece of film gear.
Here are a few more photographs from the shoot.