Herrick 18 Stories
Captain Mau Gris is team leader for the British Army’s Combat Camera Team (CCT) based in Afghanistan throughout the summer 2013 as part of 1 Mechanized Brigade. Op Herrick 18′s CCT also includes Sergeant Barry Lloyd – video cameraman – and Sergeant Barry Pope – photographer.
‘Spray and pray’
With Lloydy gaining a bit of fame in for his 3D filming (he’s been interviewed by BBC Radio Merseyside) I thought it was time to talk about our 3D filming, so far, in this blog.
Last week, I found out that the Brigade Reconnaissance Force (BRF) were going to the Close Quarter Battle (CQB) range to practice their skills. So I set up a day to go down and capture them in action.
CQB ranges are pretty claustrophobic and seriously intense; as they are made to replicate urban warfare. Though for Helmand this is a thing of the past it’s still practiced, and it is ideal subject matter for a bit of 3D action. To give you an idea – here is a video we made on Close Quarters Marksmanship:
The ranges are set up in a kind of winding alley format, with lots of corners forcing the guys to practice the drills. They face all the problems that might happen in the real thing and they have to deal with them as they go.
With the perfect subject, we set about assessing gear that the production house 3Dizzy had given us. We’ve been given a p2, which is a large standard news camera, which has a large 3D lens on it. Advantages of this – great HD quality footage with complete control. Downside – very awkward to move with and fricking heavy. We also had a 3D Helmet camera, which had the opposite qualities – easy to use, but no monitor to watch the footage, to use military slang; a ‘spray and pray’ camera. We also had a 3D handycam which was in the middle of the two.
On 3D cameras you have an additional elements of ‘convergence’ and ‘depth budget’ to consider alongside the ordinary considerations such as exposure and framing. Simply put these are controls for whether something pops out at you from the screen and how three dimensional something is. Too much can actually ruin a shot or even make it ‘illegal’ according to broadcaster standards.
With all this to consider Lloydy and his Holiness (Sgt Pope) were really earning their pay on this shoot. As the producer I had to concentrate on holding my tongue and getting them the time they needed to do the job, as well as not ruining their shots by accidentally walking into them, which I have done more than once. Don’t ask me how, it just happens.
We set up Lloydy with the big camera as he’s the specialist video guy, getting the tough arial tracking shots from an observation deck. Then his Holiness got the nice, tight shots on the handycam, we are hoping to show the results later in the year! Drop me a line in Twitter if you want to know more.
Filming from the Hospital
I also promised to talk to you about the difficulties of shooting in the Camp Bastion Hospital. From a producer’s perspective – it is about the clearances and preproduction you have to go through – for legal reasons actually filming patients is a no go, you can get their permission afterwards and in the UK but because of the nature of this environment it’s not always possible to track people down after they have left.
Also in that environment were people are very aware of cameras, you often have to contend with people messing up the shot by trying to avoid being in it. Or trying to stop you because they have not been told that you have permission. That said if you do go through the pain – the shots of the work people are doing there are worth it. Nothing worth anything is ever easy.
See you next time guys. Take it easy.
Follow Mau on Twitter: @mau_gris