Filming a gun fight at night in 3D

Herrick 18 Stories

Capt Mau Gris. Sgt Barry Pope RLC (Phot)

Capt Mau Gris. Sgt Barry Pope RLC (Phot)

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 1st Mechanized Brigade. Op Herrick 18′s CCT also includes Sergeant Barry Lloyd – video cameraman – and Sergeant Barry Pope – photographer.

A night time helicopter raid into a place of symbolic importance to the enemy, filming it in 3D. It doesn’t get more challenging than that.
 

First time ever

One of the more mixed times for us was the visit by the Prime Minister to Bastion. It was all super hush hush in the build up. It was interesting to see the media circus that follows him around, I would find it very claustrophobic to have 26 reporters following me round.

David Cameron, Prime Minister (PM) Visit.

David Cameron, Prime Minister (PM) visit.  Images by Sgt Barry Pope RLC (Phot)

More annoyingly though the team and I were due to fly out to Kabul on a meaty job, but got put on stand by “just in case.” Now I don’t know whether it’s that mid-tour tiredness but no one seemed to want to do anything.

As anyone on tour will tell you, time slows down to a snail’s pace when you have nothing to do. We tried to keep ourselves busy with little jobs and housekeeping but when you’ve had a pukka job pulled from under your nose, nothing seems quite as good.

That said what I didn’t know, was that on the horizon was something that I have been trying to achieve for a while: a full team deployment filming in 3D, alongside the BRF on a helicopter mission into Yakchal, the area I talked about in my last blog.

Helping out a local man.

Helping out a local man.

 4 Troop of the Brigade Reconnaissance Force on Operation DAAS NAIZAH L121

4 Troop of the Brigade Reconnaissance Force on operations.

The mission was to gather intelligence on the effect of one of the biggest operations the Afghan Forces had launched unaided, which had cleared through the area earlier in the month. In plain terms we wanted to see if there had been large re-infiltration of insurgents into the area.

What’s more – we were going to film this in 3D. The first mission of its kind to be recorded like this. Easier said than done! – we would be inserting at night so would have to take a separate camera for the night filming, and we would have to carry the large 3D camera with us the whole way.

Night filming

Night filming

The night came. I was carrying the big 3D camera initially as Lloydie was running about filming with the night vision camera. Unsurprisingly It’s flipping hard to get through irrigation ditches, waist high crops with a massive camera in one hand and rifle in the other, and with your depth perception shot to bits because you only have night vision on one eye!

Still, there are times when you just have to pinch yourself, how is it that I got this job? I was covering a helicopter operation at night, in Afghanistan, in 3D for the first time ever. You can’t help but smile through the sweat and suspicious smelling ditch water.

Military cat and mouse

The helicopter was cramped, as you would expect with two whole sections of Afghan and British soldiers. We landed, and rapidly debus-ed into a protective formation, in case the enemy were waiting. All was still, and the humid air settled over us as the helicopter left.

Operation DAAS NAIZAH L121

The silence was only punctuated with barking dogs and the sound of Sgt Pope’s Infra Red flash going off, which would be producing ghostly images of the troops in action. We moved off. Across fields and ditches, the night vision goggles turning the crops a ghostly green as we moved through them. Men scanning their arcs out into the inky darkness.

We were heading towards our objective known as ‘old school house.’ A place of symbolic importance to the enemy before the operation, we wanted to see what they would think of us taking up residence for the morning. Turns out they weren’t too keen on the idea.

They waited for a beautiful dawn to break before delivering a flurry of accurate rounds small arms fire, just over the tops of the heads of the sentries posted on the roof. This was some of the most professionally applied suppressing fire I had seen in a while.

The men of the Brigade Reconnaissance Force were more than up to challenge. What followed was military cat and mouse. Lloydie and his holiness got amongst the guys magnificently, producing what I believe will be the best media we have create this tour so far.

Troops on ops in an insurgent stronghold.

Troops on ops in an insurgent stronghold.

Troops on ops in an insurgent stronghold.

Troops on ops in an insurgent stronghold.

Troops on ops in an insurgent stronghold.

Troops on ops in an insurgent stronghold.

In amongst the action

In amongst the action

The 3D camera

The 3D camera

This harassing fire continued throughout the tasking, but the Afghan troops, the BRF and CCT continued business as usual. As we finished and withdrew the shooting died down, we were not followed. Some insurgents had returned but their appetite to take us on following the operation was not there.

Read Mau’s other blogs here: Capt Mau Gris

Follow Mau on Twitter: @mau_gris

4 thoughts on “Filming a gun fight at night in 3D

  1. Thank u for putting these pictures on it helps us at home to see the kind of things our son might be involved in he is in afghan just now take care

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  2. Thank you, as always well done Capt. Gris, Your stories are always intriguing.

    I can’t imagine how hard it must be to navigate at night – with night vision in just one eye…. I am wondering if that is pretty standard issue for a camera crew?

    Is there any end in sight to completely withdraw from the country?

    Stay safe,

    -Rachael

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