Getting the right balance with MoVI and Ready Rig
A short film for Heathrow Airport illustrates the detailed preparation necessary to ensure simple ideas take flight.
The one-minute long film produced by Hungry Man Productions via agency Havas Creative Group, sets the mood for a wider corporate presentation. We follow a man walking through a field toward a rudimentary airfield, then along a runway. We move closer, look over his shoulder and then up to the sky to see a giant passenger jet passing overhead.
Conceived as a single shot on RED Dragon by Havas' Executive Creative Director, Ben Mooge, the key was to ensure a smooth take.
“This could only really be achieved with handheld, with Steadicam or a gimbal stabilised rig,” explains Director of Photography, Luke Palmer. “Handheld would be jarring and wrong for the job. With a Steadicam we wouldn't have been able to move from foot level all the way over the actor's shoulder and then tilt upwards without the gear interfering with the actor's movement.”
That narrowed the choice down to a Ronin or MoVI gimbal. “To my mind MoVI M15 is the better of the two for carrying larger cameras,” says Palmer. “Even so, when fully equipped the payload was pretty heavy and I was going to be filming in quite a stressful position, holding the gimbal out in front of me.”
Equipment partner VMI came up with a solution. “Barry suggested I use a Ready Rig, which is an adapted Steadicam vest with carbon fibre arms extending from the shoulder. It's a counter balanced system that enables the MoVI to hang in front you in equilibrium without flying to the sky or falling to the floor. That took a lot of weight and stress away from operating the MoVI.”
Palmer stripped the payload back to be as light as possible. This informed his preference for Cooke S4 Mini Primes and lightweight remote focus. Instead of a wireless video link Palmer operated off the REDtouch onboard monitor and then plugged in a BNC to the client agency monitor for playback from the camera.
He removed the hood from the LMB-5 clip-on matte box to minimise the impact of wind on the MoVI and augmented the Cooke look with a ND.9 and LMB-5 spinning Ultra-Pola from Tiffen.
“I also used a spinning pool filter as having to change the angle of the matte box (as you would with a regular 4x5.6" Pola) would require subtle rebalancing every time.
“It was a beautiful sunny morning tracking through long frosty and backlit grass,” describes Palmer of the shoot at former RAF base Bovingdon airfield. “There really wasn't any noticable bounce at all when we played it back at 5K 50fps. It was super smooth.”
The team relocated to various viewing sites around Heathrow to capture planes taking off and landing using the same lens, tilting angle and close infinity focus. Post prodution house The Mill composited the two shots to form a seamless whole.
“In theory this was an elegantly simple film,” says Palmer. “The trick to making it happen was having the right kit and back-up from VMI.
“For me it's critical to have a decent MoVI technician alongside who can set up the rig first thing in the morning when you're chasing sunrise, and to rebalance when you change set-up. Our MoVI technician was Klim Jurecicius who Alasdair at VMI recommended and who runs the MoVI courses at VMI. He was excellent!”
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