Today’s post is all about the gear and tech for Indie Van Game Jam.
Here’s the complete list of gear we used for Season 1:
- Canon EOS 5D Mk. III
- Canon EOS 25-105mm. f/4.0 lens
- Canon EOS 100mm. f/1.8 lens
- Canon 5D Mk. III batteries (5)
- Canon 5D Mk. III chargers (2)
- Kingston 266 x 32 GB CF cards (5)
- Manfrotto MA561BHDV1 Fluid Video Monopod and Head
- Shoulder Rig Support
- Flashpoint LED light with bracket
- Zacuto Zwiss Cage
- GoPro Hero 3
- GoPro Suction Cup Mount
- GoPro Hero 3 batteries (2)
- SanDisk Class 10 x 32GB microSD cards (2)
- CF/SD Card Reader USB
- ElGato HD Capture Device
- Zoom H4n
- Rode VideoMic Pro
- Rode NTG-3 Shotgun Mic
- Shotgun Mic accessories
- Mic stand
- Sennheiser Wireless Transmitter/Receiver Packs (2)
- Skullcandy Headphones
- Rycote Lavalier Undercovers
- Photoflex 5-in-1 22’’ Multidisc Reflector
- Seagate Backup Plus 4TB 3.0 USB External Hard Drive
- 500 GB external hard drives (3)
- HDMI cables (2)
- PortaBrace travel case
- Tons of AA/AAA batteries
- Gaffer Tape
- 50’ extension cord
- Release forms
I’m borrowing heavily from the gear list posted by the filmmakers of Indie Game: The Movie here: http://www.indiegamethemovie.com/news/2010/9/18/gear-games-james.html
My experience with filming run-and-gun short documentaries has taught me that it’s imperative to pack as light and as efficiently as possible. I wouldn’t have the space in the van to store lighting equipment, we wouldn’t have the production crew/manpower to stage and clear the equipment quickly in the indie studios, and finally we would be driving during winter, which of course meant direwolves and traveling on foot through snow and ice — not so good when you’re carrying around expensive candy.
TL;dr Make sure you pack light and can move quickly with equipment in order to keep up with the team.
When choosing a camera for any production, there are a couple of important deciding factors for me that go into renting or purchasing one: (a) weight, (b) dynamic range, and (c) environment.
Will the camera’s weight slow you down? If you like to move with subjects by using a shoulder mount, if you need to fit through tight spaces, you probably won’t be carrying Red Epic around with you.
The cost of energy expended from putting the camera down and setting it back onto your shoulder means that your ability to press record in time to capture spontaneous moments is that much slower. One of the primary objectives of a good cinematographer IMO is to minimize his chances at missing moments that typically happen in the blink of an eye (and thus can’t be repeated without some degree of acting and inauthenticity).
B. Dynamic Range
What is your lighting situation going to be? With documentaries, it’s hard to predict where your subjects will move and how to light them properly and persistently over time. This means that I must be able to punch in my ISO as fast as possible.
When the team returned home to Austin from Chicago in episode one for example, they had a post-mortem on the game jam process inside the van. It was 2AM and pitch black out. So we strung a couple of Diego’s camping lights up onto the side panels to give everyone some light, and I bumped up the ISO on the Mk3 to maybe 10,000. It’s hella grainy, but you make out their silhouettes and it gets the job done.
How well will the camera withstand traveling and weather conditions? Fortunately the 5D’s batteries never froze, but a better choice may have been a Sony or Panasonic HDV cam.
Tl;dr There are many factors that go into choosing a camera and its support, such as weight, dynamic range, environment, S-Logs, stability, etc. Don’t let the analysis paralyze you from going out into the field and experimenting with one or the other.
Most of the gear fit into a single PortaBrace that I slung over my shoulder and one Osprey backpack!
(War mode + epic beard ftw)
Editing happens on a Macbook Pro using PluralEyes to sync sound, Premiere Pro to edit, Photoshop and After Effects for designing stuff (mostly tweaking Diego’s awesome animations he’s shipped me!), Audition for sound editing. We use the El Gato Capture HD device hooked up to 2 laptops and 1 TV to record various development stages and Screenflow to capture a plethora of other things: missing gameplay footage, scrolling code, character animations in Unity, etc.
In case you’re interested in learning more about what goes into choosing a camera, check out this awesome post over at No Film School with thoughts from Still Motion:
Feel free to ask any questions about the gear!
Indie Van Game Jam is currently in the middle of their Steam Greenlight campaign. To help them Vote Yes on the Steam Greenlight campaign and by sending out a tweet, facebook message, or tumbl!