Monday, April 29, 2013

A Lightweight Video Kit on Kootenai Creek

Each year since moving to Missoula I've been picking up 1-2 new outdoor activities a year. In 2009 it was mountain biking and photography; 2010, skiing and trail running; 2011, climbing; and last year, fishing. All of these have come with their own trials and learning curves, but ultimately rewards. The best being a combining of them: riding to fish, learning to photograph skiing, packing a bicycle through the wilderness, etc.

This year my focus is turning to capturing video, and hopefully stories. It's something that I've been wanting to get into for years, but have never had the ambition to go all-in. The McCall video really wetted my appetite. It was the first trip in the last 5 years where I decided to take no stills, and I had a lot of fun with it. Accidentally smashing my s95 on bike path pilon just outside McCall turned out to be a blessing. As it forced me to get a new camera.

I'm approaching my video kit as I would any other backcountry sport. Weighing in price vs weight vs versatility vs durability. The 5n falls in the newer interchangeable lens 'mirrorless' camera category. It will shoot 1080p at 24 and 60fps, and is fairly capable at low light. So, why no DSLR? Well, they're heavier and more expensive. After seeing examples of what the NEX 5n was capable of. It was a no brainer for the $500 I paid. The next step up, in my eyes, is a full-sensor 5d mkIII, and that'll run me  $3500 + lenses.

Now, I know a lot of people would focus on getting the best image quality first, and a 5d mkIII would certainly fit that bill, but my thinking has been to invest in the less glamorous stuff first. The one aspect of that McCall video that I am unhappy with is the camera shake. It makes the video almost unwatchable. To combat it, I've decided to carry 3 different stabilization options: a Glidecam 1000 hd, a Manfrotto 560b monopod (with a 561bhvd-1 head), and a teeny-tiny Ultrapod tripod, which will mostly be used to hold a Zoom H1 audio recorder. The whole kit, including a Osprey Kode 30, is coming in at a hair under 12lbs. Which, is not lightweight compared to my old s95, but it is compared to a professional kit.

The great thing about about the camera industry right now, is that it's not driven by lightweight equipment the way most outdoor sports are, and with the exception of carbon tripods, lighter equipment is less expensive.

The gear list as of late April 2013

I'll be posting more about my video kit when it's (more) finalized, but for now, I'm still experimenting what works and what dosen't, and I haven't even started to deal with recording audio or postproduction or timelapse or ND filters... It's all a huge learning curve, and one that's been enjoyable to try and pick apart. Well, when I'm not falling (watch the ending) on my ass.

On the playlist: Chiddy Bang - Mind Your Manners (monopods!)
On the playlist: Bonnie "Prince" Billy - I Am Goodbye
Inspiration: Ken Burns: On Story
Inspiration: Fly Fishing Filmmaking Tips


  1. Casey,

    A fantastic film! Not only is the videography great, but the final composition is moving, and well-timed. I love your ability to capture greatness in small adventures, such as your weekend at the fire tower. What a coincidence that this song has been used in a Riv short by Jay Ritchey?-- a great song for sure.


  2. Thanks Nick.

    I really struggled for music with this piece. On that day, I kinda just went out for practice, but after I looking through the footage, I decided I wanted to try to create a watchable music video with no narration. It's hard because hiking is pretty much the most boring activity to watch. So, i new I had to have upbeat music to off-set some of that, but nothing seemed to fit. The sort-of train-like-chugging-ness at the beginning of the song I though went well with the flow of the creek and the rest just seemed to fit. Like Erin's off trail hiking during the solo.

    That's a nice Rivendell piece, and while I hadn't seen that, I remembered after I chose the song that the official music video is comprised of Will Oldham just walking around town (i added the link above), and at the beginning there's even a shot of water... Funny how that stuff probably gets stored subconsciously ;)