Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Malawi - Kung Fu

On our epic tour of the globe, we stopped off in Malawi for a couple of weeks.
While filming, crowds would gather and the kids would shout "Chucky, Chucky, Chucky" and do kung fu impressions whilst pointing and laughing at Marc the producer.

We got to the bottom of it. All the kids thought that Marc was Chuck Norris!!! How strange, obviously they still watch all the old 80's episodes.
Taking an arty picture was near on impossible as all the kids would jump in front of the camera and start their kung fu moves.
I have never been to a place whose people love having their picture taken so much!! Kids and adults alike would fight to be filmed or have their pic taken!!

I decided to line all the children up against a wall and get them to pose their favourite kung fu move while maintaining some kind of order.

There is always one that escapes!

Tuesday, 28 April 2009


Filming sea turtles in Carricou, a little island off Grenada.

These are the Real Pirates of the Caribbean!! These pirates from Petit Martinique found the turtle, pictured above, brought it to the KIDO foundation who pay the local fishermen, pirates or sailors a certain amount to save the turtles rather than hack them up for soup so that KIDO can tag them and release them back into the sea.
Dario from the KIDO foundation, called us immediately to come and film it. So we grabbed a water taxi and went over to the other side of the island of Carricou to film the turtle as it rushed back into the sea

Getting ready for a dive

Going overboard

This is the first time I have been diving. JP from Lumbadive in Carricou patiently gave me my first lesson. I went down to four metres and considering it was my first time I was quite chuffed about that.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Pokot Tribe - Kenya

WARNING! Please refrain from stealing these pictures and putting them on your blogs!

Its hard to film and take pictures at the same time. There are so many moments during filming where you think "Damn, that would have been a great picture!". For many years I used to carry a Nikon 601 around my neck while I was filming and then after a while I stopped as it just got on my nerves and impeded on my work.

We filmed a promo film with Luke Gamble, following him around Kenya and one of the places we went to was the remote region bordering Sudan inhabited by the Plains Pokot Tribe.
The lush green valleys of the Rift Valley quickly gave way to a hot and arid landscape full of scraggly bushes and ant hills.

We planned to sleep in the village for one night but the local tribe we had visited were going through a period of violent unrest with another nearby tribe; they would each steal each others goats and little cattle they had and happily shoot each other for the fun of it.

It was very difficult to take pictures of them as they all wanted to be paid for the privilege, so it took a lot of persevering and snapping away while they weren't looking. Bit naughty, but I didn't want to pay.

Before filming could begin, we had to attend the village meeting which took about two hours. All the men from the village sat in a circle while the leaders were introduced to us. We would then show our gratitude and thanks for their hospitality and they in turn welcomed us amongst them. Really endearing, but a bit tiring, especially when you have lots of filming to do and an 10 hour drive back to Nairoibi!

It always surprises me how humans are able to survive in the most extreme conditions. How do they live in places with no water, where nothing grows and where all there is to eat are goats.

I'm sure they all smoked a lot of pot, chewed khat or something similar.

A local school hut.

Women relax in the shade while all the men gather for a meeting.

He sold me his hat for $20!

WARNING! Please refrain from stealing these pictures and putting them on your blogs!

Monday, 6 April 2009


Am out in Grenada on stage two of the VET ADVENTURES series and thought I would write a quick report on the camera we are using on this project: the Sony HD XDCAM pdw700.

Most of the filming on this new project is hand held which makes for really hard work. As much as I would like to use the tripod, the style, look and feel of this programme dictates that it has to be dynamic and there isn’t a minute to spare as the presenter darts around from one place to another. It can go from a close up to crash zooming out and off on a chase.

Am really happy with the results, from the workflow down to the picture quality.
Prior to buying the camera, we at RES, were mulling over which camera to go for. The Panasonic Varicam, the Sony HDCAM 750 or the Sony HD XDCAM 700.
So many things to weigh up, tape, tapeless or disc, different Mbits, variable frame rate or not, digitising requirements and above all cost of the camera as well costs of the various workflows.

We decided on the 700. We needed a quick and cheap work flow as well as good quality pictures.
At the end of each shooting day we digitise all the footage onto an external hard drive and that allows us to study the days filming and story lines. Should we be missing any particular cut away, I'd rather notice it on the shoot rather than in the edit suite back in London!

We purchased two inbuilt radio mic receivers together with the camera body, a third independent radio mic, a matte box and filters (an ND .9 grey grad filter and Polariser), a Teletest RX transmitter and a remote monitor. Lots of great gadgets, but it means am also having to use two IDX V lock batteries as the camera sucks up so much juice and adding weight to an already heavy camera. I think it comes in at nearly 13 kilos.

The lenses I use are the Canon HJ11 and the HJ22.

I find factory settings on Sony HD cameras to be extremely contrasty, with no latitude to grade when it comes to post, so in the menu in the gamma page i have set it on a cinegamma 2, which flattens the blacks and the whites.
My only concern is the viewfinder, its not quite true to what I get at the other end. My whites seem to be hotter in the VF. I keep calibrating it, but it just doesn't seem right.

Filming a piece to camera in St. George's, Grenada.