Fact: Fighting is not cool. Fact: Stage fighting is very, very cool.
Recently I’ve had this recurring thought. A nagging idea about filming epic fight scenes that do all the things I want them to do in the movies. I used to choreograph fights for a touring theatre company in my distant past. Now I’m taking those skills and the pool of talented performers I know to make fight scenes like this one.
It all started with a promo video for Off The Ground’s – Musketeers. With no preparation I joined a rehearsal and watched a set of fights choreographed for stage before capturing the footage in the video below.
I’d recently bought a DJI phantom and the stabilized Gopro footage it provides proved way better than I could have hoped. After a little thought and some more equipment I’m now using a new rig (see below) light enough to get right into the action so after rounding up a couple of actor friends we set about choreographing the fight and camera at the same time.
I knew I wanted everything to work as one shot so each hit must be positioned in terms of the camera and each move planned out. In reality, stage combat is much closer to dance than it is to fighting.
‘Fight Club #1’ is the result of about 3 hours of preparation, rehearsal and filming. The plan is to get together regularly, produce these mini scenes and with your feedback, improve and expand the project
A while back I was called to film some fight scenes for a promo video. I love films like ‘Kingsman’ for the feeling of camera mobility during fight scenes and I wanted to recreate that feeling. Filming action with a DSLR is difficult because if you want to stabilize your footage it makes focus control very difficult. There are solutions available such as the DJI Ronin M but these add bulk and weight and are too expensive for a lot of amateur filmmakers. Instead I used the Zenmuse H3-3D gimbal attached to my Phantom drone to stabilize a Gopro solving two problems at once. Stable footage and no focus adjustment needed.
Using a drone is a great solution if you already own one but it has it’s disadvantages. It uses the precious battery power of the expensive DJI cells, offers no stabilization in the vertical plane and there’s nowhere to put a monitor if you want one.
Instead I looked for a solution that would stabilize a Gopro like a drone gimbal does but mount easily to my Flycam 5000, a handled stabilizer for DSLR’s. After researching various possibilities involving ebay stabilizers and RC battery packs I bit the bullet and ordered the Feiyu G4 handheld electronic stabilizer for Gopro. The G4 does everything the drone did but is still susceptible to hand movement. It keeps the Gopro level but that’s it.
Black pearl reciever live view
Feiyu G4 Remote
Side view of the setup
Fortunately, mounting it to a Flycam 5000 transforms the Gopro into a silky smooth cinema camera. The addition of the Boscam G20 transmitter allows a live feed for monitoring on the move and the remote control unit lets me control the pitch and follow mode on the G4. This really is a case of the whole being greater than the sum of it’s parts.
See the super stable results from this setup in the new fight video and Bikes and Boards promo:
The extra advantage of the Flycam kit is it’s ability to keep the camera level with minimal ground clearance. Lowering the head of the stabilizer allows you to film right from the floor up to about a foot higher than your reach, which is excellent.
A complete parts list for the kit is below:
Boscam G20 Transmitter
Black Pearl diversity Monitor
Feiyu G4 3-axis stabilizer
Feiyu G4 remote and cable
Gopro flat surface mount
Gopro Handlebar mount
If you’re building this kit or maybe have a better one I want to hear about it. Leave a comment or follow JonHallPHoto to stay updated.