Case Studies

SI-2K on the Frontline


SI-2K Navy Shoot: News from the Frontline

When producers Joe and Ken Conner, with director Julius Avery from Renegade Films too up the challenge to produce George Patterson Y&R's new recruitment television campaign for the Australain Navy they called on Lemac to supply the specialist camera kit and tech crew. The concept of the ad was to show the experience of life as a recruit POV-style for 7 days in 30 seconds, the tag line of the ad asking imagine what you could do in you're whole career. It would show snapshots of sailors working aboard the HMAS Anzac, then living it up in South-East Asia whilst on R&R all set to music by Australian band New Empire.

Renegade's director, Julius Avery (recent Cannes winner for 'Jerrycan') was particular about how he wanted these POV images to look, and standard high-definition techniques would just not cut the mustart in terms of image quality. He would not take the easy option of making it like a home movie. After considerable camera and post testing, Lemac's new Silicon Imaging SI-2K camera kit was chosen using film lenses and shooting in the Cineform Raw format at 1920x1080. The shoots' DOP Nigel Bluk (who won a Best Cinematography at 2007 AFI awards for Home Song Stories) joined the shoot on location in Singapore straight from New York with little time for testing so it was straight into the shoot.

The POV style concept for the shoot meant casting an athletic, shortish actor, so that the height of the SI-2K mini camera when head-mounted would be eye level with the other Navy recruits, was essential, a similar technique to that used on a recent Nike UK campaign.

This head-mounted POV style with the SI-2K Mini meant that the SI-2K DDR would need a purpose built rig so that it could be solely carried on the actors head and back. Importantly the camera kit had to withstand the rigors of many extreme situations. Lemac's Tim Schumann was seconded to camera management and data-wrangling for the shoot and takes up the story.

Preparing the rig for Rugby at the Perth Cup (above)

'Based in Singapore and Malaysia we were shooting on jet boats, out the side of helicopters, on-board the HMAS ANZAC, on motor scooters and in lots of situations where it just wasn't possible for us to pre-emp what was going to happen.

As it was such a heavily scheduled one-week shoot and a very small crew, we put a lot of effort into building a rig that would be light and portable but would get the job done in the most effective bullet-proof way possible. Our engineering department did a fantastic job! Set up times had to be fast and often we were in tight quarters where there was little-to-no-room to move so the record mechanism needed to be able to take a bit of a beating. As a result we modified the stock-standard hard drive caddies in the unit so that we were recording onto SSD's (Solid State Drives) rather than spinning disks. Bumpy motion on hard drive technology can result in dropped frames or corrupted drives, an with the success that we've had with our P2 solid state cards in our Panasonic kit, and the CF cards on Red, we knew that solid state was a much safer recording option on this shoot.

In almost all cases blocking out and rehearsing the action in advance just wasn't possible so we were flying by the seat of our pants. Much of the time the talent (with camera mounted on his helmet) would just head off into a Singapore market or through the bowels of the frigate with an earpiece in, Julius giving him direction remotely with the camera-crew following behind waiting to see what was going to happen. We would be racing along seeing what he was shooting from Transvideo Cinemonitors wirelessly connected via the Transvideo Titan system, receiving signals from the SI-2K camera.

The SI-2K like the Red One is one of a new wave of Digital Cinema cameras that are largely based on computer systems with image sensors recording Raw images rather than pre-processed HD video. The advertising campaign for the Australian Navy was released early in 2009. Keep an eye out for it because it moves pretty fast. Thanks for asking us to help Renegade!'

The SI-2K and the SI-K Mini are available from Lemac Sales & Rentals. The helmet-mounted camera rig is available as a rental item only. More on-set photos from the shoot are below...

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