While filming his documentary Gas Monopoly, Austrian director and cinematographer Richard Ladkani combined the Sony PMW-F3 with accessories by OConnor, part of Vitec Videocom, a Vitec Group company, to achieve a special look. The project was technically daring and consequently a challenge for the experienced cinematographer.
"I wanted to give this multifaceted road trip documentary a special look and had complete freedom when it came to applying a camera technique. Anything was possible as long as I didn't overstrain the budget and the tight filming schedule. The Sony PMW-F3 has often been used in cinematic film production because it offers high quality output and the capability to play with the depth of field. That's why it was considered for our special documentary project." The 90-minute film tells the story of Martin Leidenfrost, a journalist and author from Slovakia, who travels to the hidden geopolitical world of gas. He poses questions about the future of the gas supply and, in doing so, runs into dirty deals, power games and monopolies.
Perfect combination: the Sony PMW-F3 with OConnor accessories
Richard Ladkani tested whether the F3 would be suitable as the main camera for his documentary. "In doing so, one thing was certain: To efficiently work with the F3, I needed professional camera accessories," says Ladkani. This is how the OConnor set-up, consisting of the O-Grips handgrips, the Universal Baseplate, the CFF-1 Cine Follow Focus and the O-Box WM Mattebox, came to be used during the demanding filming.
Flexible solutions for the highest possible degree of stability
"The OConnor O-Grips handgrip system can be constructed from multiple modules and always provides confident camera operation. After a very short period of familiarization, I found that the O-Grips sat comfortably in the hand," says Ladkani. "In addition, the O-Grips can quickly be turned in many different directions and, as a result, easily stabilize the camera set-up in every filming situation. I attached the grips to the rods to limit pressure on the lens as we used our O-Box mattebox with a clamp ring." With the new OConnor Universal Baseplate, the rods can be adjusted upwards or downwards on a rail measuring about seven centimeters. "This is great when you have to lower the rods. When using larger lenses such as the Zeiss LWZ.2-Zoom in our case, the maneuvering room under the lens can be very helpful."
Individual image composition for special look
During the filming of Gas Monopoly, Ladkani did most of the focusing himself. "I really like being able to also attach the driver gear under the lens," reports Ladkani. "This way you can push the focus wheel very close to the lens and avoid hitting your face while filming handheld." The OConnor O-Box mattebox was an essential device for the desired cinematic look. With it, Richard Ladkani was able to specifically control light and light reflexes for extraordinary camera effects. This individual image composition was part of the concept and wouldnt have been possible without this high-end mattebox system. Moreover, the O-Box and its sunshade are extremely rugged! Ladkani adds.
Camera work under extreme conditions
The budget and an extremely tight filming schedule demanded absolute equipment dependability. "We had many filming situations, in which we had to work quickly and intuitively. A versatile set-up with which you don't unnecessarily lose time changing between hand and tripod filming positions was extremely important," says Ladkani. "Whether in freezing temperatures in Siberia or in the brutal heat of Azerbaijan the OConnor accessories worked perfectly," he says when summing up the demanding experiment. "Combining the Sony PMW-F3 and the OConnor accessory set-up put the documentary on the visual level of a motion picture."