Barnes Takes on Alaska for Hostile Environment Adventure Gear

Date: 04/12/2013

Adventure cinematographer Joe Barnes of BreakFrame, Inc is a no-holds-barred, in-the-trenches shooting director and DP who takes his gear to extreme and adventurous locations. Recently for a short film, Hostile Environment Adventure Gear, which demonstrates military products and innovative outdoor adventure gear, Joe was off to shoot on Seward, Alaskas Exit Glacier Overlook Trail, the shore of Resurrection Bay, and other mountainous terrains. For this trek, we needed equipment that would stand up to the elements and the rigorous climbs, says Barnes. My selection of an efficient and lightweight camera package was extremely important.

We chose a Canon 5D Mark III, EF Canon zooms, OConnor O-Focus and O-Box, Sachtler Video 18 S1 fluid head and tripod, a slider as well as Litepanels 1x1 Bi-Color LED fixtures powered by Anton Bauer Hytron 140s, he explains.
 
Bringing both a tripod and slider gave us the opportunity to create the appropriate and exhilarating shots we desired for each set up. I needed a head that was lightweight to keep up with the extreme terrain and hiking, while maintaining a wide payload range for balancing quickly with either the tripod or slider. The lightweight design of the Sachtler 18 S1 was beneficial.
 
We hiked up Exit Glacier carrying all our gear and spent an entire day on the glacier, setting up scenes in several locations, each requiring a significant hike to the next setup, he recalls. We were often switching from slider to tripod. The head made the transition effortless because of the ability to quickly reconfigure and rebalance our equipment. This was especially crucial with the frequent repositioning of the PIX 240 digital recorder and the Alphatron EVF viewfinder, primarily when our executive producer and clients wanted to watch the shot as it was being recorded. Sachtlers nearly five-inch balance/slide plate gave me the ability to reconfigure and balance quickly and effectively.
 
Barnes recalls one standout slider shot where the actors run through a deep and treacherous canyon. Using the Sachtler I was able to position the camera on the edge of the cliff, he explains. The benefit was the ability to tip the camera almost straight downward while moving left to right on the slider, moving with the talent. This made the shot exciting and creatively demonstrated depth and danger. The Sachtler Video 18 head helped me achieve shots like this and set up the shots quickly.
 
Speed of focus was also important to us, he adds. We had to keep the production moving. Ive been using the OConnor O-Focus for a while and own both the photo and cine focus knobs. At the time of purchase, I wasnt sure if I would ever use the cine knob because I primarily used Canon EF lenses. However on this job, I discovered a great use for the cine knob on my Canon still lenses. Because of the ratio, I was able to change deep focus quickly during the shot. Basically I used the cine knob to snap focus from near foreground objects to our actors farther away, running through the terrain.
 
Some of the content Barnes shot was for online use, in-store advertising and trade shows, so the client wanted interviews of the actors regarding their experience with the outdoor gear they wore during the shoot. In order to light for interviews in Alaskas wilderness, Joe needed portable and cableless lighting. Thats why I took 1x1 Litepanels LEDs, my favorite battery powered solution for quick and versatile lighting set ups, he says. I used one for a fill light and the other as a mid-level kicker for separation from the forest background.
 
Traveling to locations like this has always been a challenge for Barnes and crew. As all owner-operators know, when you are traveling by air to location, one of the concerns is getting ALL your gear there and in working order, especially when facing layovers or airline changes, says Barnes. In an effort to prevent reclaiming my gear damaged, or waiting at the baggage claim for misplaced or lost road cases, I prefer to carry-on my essential and fragile gear that includes camera body, external video recorder, lenses, laptop and external hard drives.
 
Yes, its a lot of equipment to carry around, and with the ever-shrinking carry-on size restrictions, its a challenge and a backpack doesnt cut it, he adds. Ive tried many aircraft approved carry-on bags and cases and by the time I packed the gear in a travel safe manner, I had run out of room. When I packed up the Petrol DigiSuite with minor reconfiguring of the foam dividers I was able to fit and protect all my fragile gear in one bag and even had room for my mattebox and filters. I have finally found my air travel solution! Our gear is now safer and faster to access which gives us more time to focus on the creative work.
 
Eric Katzenberg, President of 629 Productions and Executive Producer of Hostile Environment Adventure Gear agrees, Over three intense days climbing mountains, crossing rivers and hiking glaciers, the Petrol Bags never let us down. Through rain, sleet, high winds and a small avalanche, our camera gear was perfectly protected and ready when we needed it.  Because there is no room for error when moving production equipment through the extreme environments we often shoot in, Petrol Bags will always be essential equipment for my team, whether shooting in villages in Afghanistan or a bar in Albuquerque.
 
Hostile Environment Adventure Gear was produced for several clients, each with different needs and uses broadcast TV commercials, Internet advertising and in-store marketing and trade shows.
 
For more product information contact: The Vitec Group,16 Progress Drive, Shelton CT 06484, Phone: 1 203-929-1100, Fax: 1 203-925-2684, Email: info.videocomamericas@vitecgroup.com
 
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Photo credit: John Deluca
Photo caption: Executive Producer Eric Katzenberg (L) and cinematographer and DP Joe Barnes use Litepanels, Petrol Bags, Sachtler and OConnor Accessories to get the job done.
 
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About Litepanels
Litepanels was founded in 2001 by 5 professional gaffers and engineers who saw the future and pioneered LED (light emitting diode) lighting for motion pictures, television and the audio-visual industry. Their Emmy® award-winning technology has now been used on thousands of productions worldwide and is trusted by the worlds leading broadcast organizations.
 
Backed by the Vitec Groups legacy of 100+ years in the broadcast and production industry, Litepanels continues to expand its suite of flicker free, color accurate, fully-dimmable soft lights that talent and Lighting Directors admire. These environmentally friendly fixtures practically pay for themselves with power savings and long life, setting a new standard in professional lighting.  Along with other leading brands in the broadcast and professional videographer industry, Litepanels is part of Vitec Videocom, a Vitec Group company.  For more information on Litepanels, visit www.litepanels.com


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