Videos

Filming a single shot fight scene – Stage to screen

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.

Check out the equipment used to film this video

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

Shooting Triathletes in West Kirby – A 48 hour D800 film

West Kirby is a quiet little beach town on the Wirral peninsula. Considering the vast beaches and epic marine lake it’s amazing that it hasn’t been home to a triathlon before.

On the 31st of August hundreds of competitors, friends, family and spectators descended on the lake to witness some extreme athletes put themselves through a combined course of swimming, and cycling before a run to the finish. Organised by Mersey Tri this looked like a huge turnout for a first event.

I had been invited by a personal trainer friend of mine to from Elite Fitness photograph the event with the intention of providing photos for his athletes. Upon arrival I knew I had a problem, more specifically the monster lens of an events photographer peeking out from behind a high-viz jacket.

Oh.

As good as my photos will be, if they already have it covered for the whole event I’m just overkill. So do I stay to watch strangers get wet, then disappear on bikes before returning to disappear again on foot or do I turn around and go straight back to bed (considering that it’s now 7:15 on a Sunday morning)?

Or…  do I make the best of it, put down the rapid fire D700 and see if I can make a film with zero preparation, zero planning and only the kit I have for stills photography?

Never one to waste an opportunity I grabbed the D800 with the Nikon 70-200 f2.8 for it’s long reach, the 16-35 f4 for it’s super wide angle and a sturdy tripod and set to it.

An event like a triathlon poses certain challenges to a lone cameraman. Unable to film more than one angle at once I had to pick my shots pretty carefully on the fly. Fortunately there were three waves of athletes that provided some opportunity to move and reset the camera during the action and with the kind assistance of a driver from Checkpoint motor stores I was able to follow the cycling action whilst hanging out of the window of a VW Polo. This was a real test for the active VR of the 70-200 and obviously an area which requires practice.

The film is shot in 1080p at 30fps so full screen viewing is recommended. It was cut in Premiere Pro and graded with Adobe Speedgrade before titles were added in After Effects.

If you enjoy the video (or not) leave a comment, I’d love to hear what you think. If you have any questions about how this was made or you have an event coming up and want a film for yourself just get in touch.

Enjoy

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