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Filming in Africa – The Gear

June 28, 2013

My son Zach and I were part of a 10-member leadership team that visited the impoverished country of Burundi in Africa. Our main responsibility was to film and document the activities and observations of our trip into the remote up-country village of Bugenyuzi. Our goal was to bring back a comprehensive story to tell our church and area leaders. The biggest considerations were how to maintain a decent quality while being as discrete and respectful to the village and people as possible. Initial review of some of the clips indicate we may have accomplished that goal.

Due to spotty and unregulated AC power, battery conservation became a continuous challenge. Basically we thought about what we needed to shoot before we powered up and took the shot. Gear was constantly powered down whenever there was nothing to shoot.

Additionally, security and transport were assessed. We wanted to be portable enough to take all the “expensive” stuff as carry on luggage and avoid checking. Not so much because things were fragile, but because where we were going it’s not uncommon for bags to get lost, or items to be taken within the airport systems. This presented some anxiety in that we did not know if we’d be questioned about the remote quadra-copter, odd looking batteries, propeller blades etc. We managed to pick up a personal effects policy with our home-owners carrier. It cost about $38.00 to cover approx. $4,000.00 of gear for 12 months. Fortunately, nothing was taken or questioned and we returned with all equipment functional and in tact.

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Zach shot w/ a DSLR rig and was primarily shooting close-ups and medium wide shots. (720p @ 30 fps) All his gear traveled in a backpack which he wore while shooting.

I used a GoPro rig w/ various accessories and was primarily responsible for wide, aerial, and specialty shots (setup and b-roll) . I shot in 720p/60 fps, 1080/42 fps, and 1080/30 fps and carried everything in a small carry-on suitcase. Each day I’d take the components that I thought I would need and kept everything with me in one messenger bag.

The people of this country and the village of Bugenyuzi are very kind but the reality is they’re extremely impoverished and desperate. We were cautioned repeatedly never to leave anything lying around unattended. Therefore, we had to shoot and work with all our gear on us at all times.

Here’s just a quick breakdown of the capture gear we used. If necessary we also shot stills and spontaneous video with the iPhone4, and Moto Droid Razr.

the DSLR:

  1. Canon T2i w/ 50 mm, 18-55 mm w/ stabilizer, and 100 mm lenses.
  2. Led fill light
  3. Colica WT 1003 monopod
  4. ScanDisk SD extreme high-speed memory cards. (16 Gb x 3)
  5. Ruggard brand SD case.
  6. Tascam DR-40 audio field recorder, AAA batteries.
  7. Sennheiser shotgun mic w/ hand grip
  8. Rode hand grip, windscreen, and misc. cables.

the GoPro:

  1. GoPro Hero 3 w/ iPad and Android Ap.
  2. Smoothee brand Steadicam
  3. xShot retractable mini pole mount.
  4. The ChestR camera mount by Hitcase
  5. ScanDisk mini-SD extreme high-speed memory cards (32 Gb x 3)
  6. Misc. adapters, 220V converters/ adapters, solar battery chargers.
  7. DjI, Phantom remote-controlled quadra-copter (for aerial shots).

Over the next several weeks we will be cataloging and meta-tagging the 800 or so clips in Adobe Bridge CS6 and editing with Premier Pro and After Effects. We plan to eventually make a full length documentary style video (about 40-minutes) in addition to 10, 7, and 4 minute variations for promotions, public speaking talks, website, small group, and church presentations.

Here is just one unedited sample clip to give you a sense of the countryside and conditions.

GOPR0112 – initial visit to Bugenuzi village (Enhanced) from Gary Yonek on Vimeo.

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