Tasmanian ACS E-News, July 2014

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From the Tasmanian President, Peter Curtis ACS

Hi ACS Tas members and welcome to another edition of Clips, The ACS Tas branch newsletter. This edition is the first to be posted electronically through the eNews portal on the ACS website. Thanks to Michael Sampey for uploading it all. I will miss the beautifully published versions Karen Di Benedetto has collated for us in the past, but with the ACS expanding and improving its on-line presence I suspect this will be the way we go from now on.

As you can see it’s another bumper edition, with contributions from a wide range of ACS Tasmania members. Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to write something. I think it makes great reading. These newsletters help remind us all what a talented and broadly skilled bunch we are.

As your branch President I have to say the ACS is taking a fair chunk of my spare time as we try to keep things rolling at a local level, plus get things in place for the big event next year, the ACS 2015 National Awards for Cinematography here in Tasmania. Fortunately your local ACS branch committee is a great one and I have lots of help from them.

We look forward to bringing you the details in the months ahead. Broadly, the awards will be held in the evening of Saturday May 2nd amid all the Tasmanian autumn splendour. The ceremony and dinner will be at MONA and includes a ferry trip to and from Hobart, plus pre-dinner drinks in the void section of the museum. We expect Ray Martin to be MC and there will be some high profile special guests joining us.

It’s actually going to be a whole weekend of activity, beginning with a Friday night reception at Government House. There will hopefully be screenings with high profile DP’s hosting related Q&A sessions afterwards an a workshop or related industry event, as well as opportunities for our interstate visitors to see a bit of Tasmania. The ACS National AGM will also take place on the Sunday after the awards. Quite a lot to organise as you can tell but it’s going to be worth it and I hope as many of you as possible attend the national awards ceremony here in your own state. It's a great night I can tell you.

Anyway there are plenty of articles to read below so I wont take up too much copy. However here are a few highlights that deserve mention.

We had two great local events so far this year. Firstly the field day with Chris and Tom from Aerial Inspections, where we collectively got a good demonstration and understanding of the use of drone (UAV) camera rigs. Plus we saw their MoVI stabilizer rig in action, rigged on the UAV, hand-held, and also suspended from a rope line.

Chris & Tom from Aerial Inspections

Then came the Fury Road-Mad Max Q&A event with John Seale and David Burr at the State Cinema earlier this month. Seventy people came along to hear John and David, while watching 350 behind the scenes images from the making of this movie. Fury Road isn’t out in cinemas till next May, so it was a very early sneak peek of what looks to be a massive film. A huge thanks goes out to Karena Slaninka and the team at Screen Tas who generously supported this event and also John and Melinda at the State who made us so welcome.

John Seale & David Burr with some of the 70 strong crowd

Congratulations to the nine ACS Tasmania members who won awards at the Vic/Tas ACS Awards last November. They are-

Pawel Achtel, Silver, Experimental & Specialised – (Sea of Love 3D)
Mark Nichols, Silver, Local News/Regional (Fire package)
Mark Dobbin, Gold, Current Affairs (Restoring Rangoon)
Mark Dobbin, Gold, Current Affairs (Where the Wild Coffee Grows)
Trent Butler, Silver, Current Affairs (An Unholy Conspiracy)
Trent Butler, Bronze, TV Magazine and Lifestyle (Sumo on the Steppes)
Beau Molloy, Bronze, TV Magazine and LIfestyle (Future Cities - Vancouver)
Jo Shemesh, Gold, Web and New Media (Tasmania – Don’t Change a Thing)
Simon Wearne, Bronze, Documentaries (Australiens Mississippi)
Andrew Quaile, Bronze, Commercials Local/Regional (Our Beautiful Game)
Peter Curtis, Gold, TV Magazine and Lifestyle (Olive May)
Peter Curtis, Gold, Local News/Regional (Old Business)

It was our best effort ever and I hope we can match it again this year. Mark Dobbin went on to win an Award of Distinction at the National Awards. Way to go Mark! If anyone would like a copy of the 2014 National Awards program let me know, as I brought some back.

Now is the time to start thinking about what you might like to enter in the state awards for this year. Check out the terms and conditions on the ACS website.

Award Entry Terms & Conditions »

ACS Tasmania member Chris Fox (Aerial Inspections Pilot and UAV specialist) and his partner Sam Jensey are having a rather busy time at the moment. On April 10th their gorgeous little daughter, Scarlett (not sure if she was named after the camera) was born in Hobart. Weighing in at just 2.2kg she was a pint-sized unit and needed some extra help in the neo-natal ICU. We are pleased to report she is home now and growing a little each and every week. Now a whopping 3.4kg Scarlett looks fantastic in this photo. With two dynamic and loving parents guiding her along in the years ahead there is no doubt she is destined for great things and will definitely grow into her name! In the mean time her favorite pastime is entertaining both Sam and Chris.

Here is little Scarlett weighing in at a massive 3.4kg. Chris’ current UAV can fly cameras up to 6kg, so Scarlett could get a cheap joy ride for a while yet.

While we are congratulating people, London based member Beau Molloy married his long time girlfriend Brooke last November. These two met when working together in Hobart about 10 years ago, so it’s lovely that they have followed each other around the world and are now hitched. We wish you well Beau and Brooke!

Regards to you all and enjoy the read.

Peter Curtis ACS

2014/15 Memberships

By now you should have received in the post an invoice for your 2014/15 ACS membership. Conveniently, payments can at last be made online through the ACS website, as well as by bank transfer to the ACS Tas account. If you choose to pay by EFT direct to our account please make sure your name is mentioned in the online payment information and shoot David Hudspeth an email to let him know. Davids email is [email protected] .

Once your membership is paid we will be sending out new membership cards and also a new ACS publication entitled "The Image Makers, A Brief History of the Australian Cinematographers Society", painstakingly prepared over many months by ACS Historian, Ron Windon ACS, generously sponsored by Sony Australia and Panavision Australia.

If you have lost, or never received, an ACS membership certificate (A4 size) please let Peter Curtis know and he will post one out to you. Peter's email is [email protected].

Robert Heazlewood – A postcard from Italy

I am thinking to myself does it ever get better than this? I am a lucky bastard.

Here I am shooting a sequence for a documentary I am working on with my good friend Tetsuya Wakuda at a food festival in a secluded and exclusive beach on the Amalfi coast in Southern Italy.

This is the region that inspires some of the life’s ultimate temptations.

Near perfect weather, incredible food, romantic music, the general joy of life and that’s not to mention the many beautiful people, some of whom are women.

Tetsuya Wakuda on the left

I have always dreamt about this part of the world.

I am sure that is George Clooney’s brother, who incidentally is wearing the best suit I have ever seen on a beach. Certainly the best suit I have ever seen at a barbeque, even a sophisticated barbecue, and that is saying something because I once went to a barbeque attended by Paul Keating. The woman he is with has to be Sophia Loren’s young sister I recognise those classic high check bones.

I smiled as I struggled past with the camera, mounted with a forest of radio microphone receivers, on the tripod. They smiled back, but it might have been a smirk. Maybe my Rodd and Gunn did not quite cut it.

Where is that tall, good-looking and engaging sound recordist when you need him? I used to drag those buggers all around the world attached to that umbilical sync cord and now I am reduced to running solo. Anyway they were usually Irish or Kiwi and short and I would not have got a word in if we were introduced to Sophia’s family.

Well, slate up and on with the job.

I have been lucky enough to visit this region a few times before, but this time my companion and partner Tetsuya opens up doors I did not know could ever be unlocked. If heaven on earth really exists this is probably it.

Nobody does food better than the Italians. Here food is art and culture rolled into one.

From the moment I first drop the legs of the trusty Miller Solo to the right height and lock on the camera I know the pictures are going to be all they promised to be. New, exciting and refreshing. Don’t you just love passionate people?

The only issue will be my staying power. If I am not careful this could be death by 3-star Michelin.

Catching up with some of the world’s leading chefs has its risks.

These fellows, and they are all fellows, are also among the most generous hosts you can imagine.

Camera crews are often the beneficiaries of the extra plate from the kitchen but as a one-man team I am expended to eat for the team. And that is a team shooting a drama and not a doco.

We are working the usual sixteen-hour days that Tetsuya finds normal and the adrenaline drives us on.

My constant worry is staying on top of getting the best pictures, making sure the sequences work and then making sure I have packed all the bits of gear back into the six Pelican cases that have been my travelling companions over the last few years.

All Tetsuya’s chef friends have the same passion for their profession that he does. They even wear the same size chef’s jacket. When I suggest that there may be a health issue with all the butter in that recipe I am told that is what lipitor is for.

How lucky am I?

I never need any reminding because this life is certainly one of privilege. I am travelling with a good and very generous mate, having a great time, and importantly, creating pictures that just excite me.

But I have to stay focussed. Think of the excess baggage that I am becoming. I reckon I could easily fit one of those Chef jackets. Only trouble as my wife would tell you - I can’t boil an egg without a drama

Dave Neil-There and Back

Dave is the one on the left, obviously preparing for the Malaysian thumb wrestling championships.

Late in 2012 my wife and I made the decision to pack our bags, and head over to South East Asia, to sample a different way of life and hopefully give the kids a chance to spend a year discovering how different things can be living out of Australia. As some of you know, I had already spent a few years doing Outside Broadcast camera on the Asian Golf Tour, so I know I could get the work.

We based ourselves in Penang, (Malaysia). We chose Penang for a couple of reasons - firstly it’s not a big city, like Bangkok, KL, or Singapore, although in saying that the population of Penang is 1.5 million. Secondly we wanted to stay somewhere that was different and not too ‘western’.

Another advantage of Penang is its airport. Recently upgraded, it has direct connections to KL, Singapore, Bangkok etc, so travelling for work, or pleasure, was never difficult. When compared to flying in and out of Australia (especially Hobart) it was great not having to spend so much time on planes or in airport lounges, getting to and from jobs. Travelling with the kids was also easy with most popular destinations less than 2hrs away.

For anyone considering working overseas, our biggest headache was finding schools for our 3 children. We managed to get them all in the one school (St Christopher’s in Georgetown) which is actually very rare with an international school. Their spots only became confirmed at the end of Nov 2012, so we had just 4 weeks to organise everything.

Most international schools in Asia follow the European school year. This means school holidays, class groups, and age caps for each grade etc are all in line with the UK. It meant our kids all started a grade higher than they were in Hobart. They found it hard for the first month or two, especially with the amount of homework they were asked to do each night, and weekend assignment thrown in too.

Dave getting his groove on

Everything else was pretty straight forward, once you got to know - the locals, where to eat, where the best shops were, all the traffic shortcuts, plus how to share the roads with what seem like a million bikes.

I made a pact, that when the kids had school holiday’s I wouldn’t work. We would use that time to travel and explore. There is a large Indian population in Malaysia, so the kids got both the Malaysian and Indian public holidays. This meant there were a lot of long weekends for short trips to various Malaysian and Thai Islands. Most of these were less than 1hr away by plane. We saved the end of term school holidays for longer trips to places like Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia.

The weather in Penang was 30 degrees all year around. We had a wet season of just 3-weeks, so in short we were blessed with good weather for the entire year. I was very lucky to pick up some plenty of work on all the major golf tournaments in the region. There was the Asian Tour, European Tour, LPGA Ladies Tour, as well as the PGA Tour. I believe the PGA event in KL is the first outside of the US that officially counts and has full PGA status.

The weather can vary depending on where you are and what time of the year it is. As well as the predictable heat and humidity that you might expect, there are some spots that can get incredibly cold and wet. Usually there is always the threat of a thunderstorm. They’re often tricky to pick and can come in so quickly. One minute it can be fine and sunny, then the next it’s lighting thunder and rain, rain and more rain. Time to break out the cards and play 500.

It’s always handy to pack plenty of hydrolyte drink sachets, to help with the humidity/loss of fluids. You really don’t want to get hit with dehydration as I did in Chang Mai. It took a full 3 days before I felt better. When I was in KL for the Malaysian Open, I was operating the RF camera, walking with the players on each hole. The heat/humidity was so fierce that I would slam a can of 100+ iso hydrate on each hole and still couldn’t keep up the fluids.

I was offered plenty of other work, although some of it clashed with school holidays. There is lots of football and UFC is huge in Asia. There are plenty of chances to travel between countries and do other production work. Each county seems to have its own version of the reality shows we have here in Australia. The funniest is Masterchef Indonesia. Their Masterchef kitchen set wobbles every time they cook in it.

I meet plenty of freelancers on my travels. It takes about 6-months for everyone to get to know you on the freelance grapevine and know where you are based. On average, each OB for a golf event had 3 RF cameras. On bigger events a 4th is added with super slow-mo capability to capture tight reaction shots, or key putting/tee shots etc. There are around 12 field cameras with 40:1 lenses that shoot all the regular play. Usually another camera will be rigged in a crane to capture scenic views. One such spot in Macau is a ‘behind the tee’ shot on the 17th hole. A scaffold is literally rigged on the side of the mountain. It’s a great angle, but a spot for anyone operating who’s afraid of heights, especially when the wind blows! Often a drone camera (mounted with a GoPro) is used to shoot scenics of the clubhouse, other facilities, and POV’s of the main holes that will feature on the television coverage. There will be a crew of roughly 50 - 60 for each event, that increases to around 100 on bigger events. All gear is shipped in and out for each tournament, with the production site/broadcast centre, consisting of eight converted shipping containers.

So, all in all, our year living in Asia came and went very quickly. I think I was lucky to include work intermingled with the family traveling experience. We returned to Hobart last February. The children had an amazing time away, and so did their parents. We have plenty of memories of the many different foods, faces, languages and modes of transport. The kids had their first ever train ride in Sri Lanka. We were the only ‘white’ people in the carriage!

In the next week or so I am off once again. This time it’s to shoot a couple of golf events for ETP in Europe. They travel with their own production trucks, specialty cranes, carts for shooting golf from etc, so I will enjoy seeing how differently they do things in Europe. Then it’s on to Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games. See you when I get back.

Dave.

Tom Waugh – Aerial Inspections

Aerial Inspections (ACS members Chris Fox and Tom Waugh) have been very busy of late. Recently we completed a shoot for ABC Gardening Australia, capturing "The Patch" from a whole new perspective. Before that we were up at Woolnorth wind farm getting some fresh angles on the turbines for a corporate video.

Chris has become a father of a beautiful daughter, Scarlett Fox and we've moved to a new bigger and better office space with workshop and editing rooms. Phew!

The second half of year holds some great prospects. We are working with The Kettering Incident TV series team, to push UAVs to new storytelling possibilities, and before that we will head way out west for some rail-bridge inspections!

Tom, Costa, Tino and Chris with 'Goliath'

Capturing smooth 4K in high wind conditions at Woolnorth in Far NW Tasmania

You can check out our latest cinematography reel in 4K, which was all shot on the Blackmagic 4K and Red Epic 5K cameras, using the MoVI M10 stabiliser on the UAV, handheld and on a rope system.

Aerial Inspections 4K Showreel »

Peter Donnelly ACS

Recently I was asked to give a talk about my experiences as a cinematographer Entitled '40 Years filming in Tasmania.'

There were two talks. The first one was at a luncheon at the Royal Commonwealth Society and the second was at a luncheon with members of Tasmanian Legacy. On both occasions time ran out. I was less than half way through, as it were. Consequently I have been asked back sometime in the future to give 'the rest of my talk,' as both gatherings found it all very interesting and were disappointed at not being able to hear more!

David Brill (as related to Peter Curtis)

David Brill standing at the spot where Damien Parer's life sadly ended

Last year I flew to the islands of Palau in the mid-Pacific on assignment for SBS Dateline. I was there to film a story on the effort to ‘de-mine’ the islands that are still smothered in unexploded WW2 ordinance. For me it was a pilgrimage of sorts.

You see, there are two cinematographers who I have admired and respected all my life. They are the men who have influenced me most, and their names should be familiar to us all. First up, the legendary Neil Davis, a fellow Tasmanian who I knew well and then, Damien Parer, the famous Australian WW2 cinematographer.

I was born the year Damien was killed – 1944. As I made my own career I came to admire him not just for his amazing work and exploits on the Kokoda Track, but for the kind of man he was. He cared greatly for people, especially the Australian troops he served with. It was his determination and dignity that impressed me most. When struck down with malaria and heat exhaustion on the way back down the Kokoda Track Parer chose to discard his tripod and stills camera so he had the strength to push on with his box-like Newman Sinclair 35mm film camera (very heavy) and his precious rolls of exposed film. He continued to film amazing sequences, all hand held. I have seen his rushes. They are very impressive. You can always tell how good a cameraman is by viewing their rushes.

Over the years I have learned much more about Damien through a very good friend, Neil McDonald. From 1982-93 Neil researched Damian’s life in great detail, interviewing those who knew him and worked with him. The result was a book on Damien’s life - ‘Kokoda – Front Line’. This book inspired the recent TV Drama ‘Parer’s War’, which aired on ABC-TV.

Damien’s motivation on the Kokoda Track was to bring the war back Australians at home. He wanted to show what a remarkable effort was being made so close to our shores, by men who were poorly equipped but desperate to keep the Japanese troops at bay. Damien concentrated on the faces of the men as they struggled in that steamy muddy hell in New Guinea. His footage was confronting and brutally honest. It showed the best and the worst of war and man and its impact was great.

Damien carried this simple but powerful approach to shooting in other theatres of war throughout the Pacific. He started working with the American troops too. In Guam he shot the aftermath of a massacre with great discretion and respect. He was genuinely affected by everything he filmed. It took its toll and he was tired when he reached Palau to cover the next big battle. His determination to film the faces of the troops meant he had to be at the very front line of an advance. He took to walking backwards behind the lead tank so he could film the faces of the troops as they charged in. Sadly, this time it proved to be perilous, as he was cut down by Japanese machine-gun fire from the flank.

That brings me back to my visit to Palau. Thanks to a local American who knew all about the battle (he lost a nephew in combat there) I found myself standing in the exact spot where Damien’s life sadly ended. It was a strange feeling being there and it moved me greatly. Sadly the film from Damien’s camera was ripped from the magazine moments after he died. Sheer vandalism and done in the heat of battle with no thought – such a shame that his last great achievement was never seen by anyone other than himself.

Turning to much happier events. In recent times I have been filming a Dateline piece on Dean Semler. I have known Dean since he and I moved to Sydney in the late 1960’s to work at the ABC. Dean had come from Adelaide and was working for This Day Tonight while I was from Hobart and filming for 4-Corners. I thought I was superior because I was filming for 4C’s, but as we were both ‘outsiders’ we banded together and got along very well. We went our separate ways a couple of years later, but I knew Dean would go a long way. I’ve admired what he’s achieved in the years that have followed. Now aged 71 Dean has shot around 74 feature films through a long and illustrious career. He’s won countless awards, and the Oscar.

Although we hadn’t spoken in 20-30 years I sent Dean a message when he won the Oscar and he returned a message with a photo of his Oscar tied to a toy kangaroo. I wanted to do a film on Dean as a tribute to him. I knew he would be smart and natural on camera, so I was pleased when Dean said he was happy for me to do a story on his life.

When Dean won the Long Achievement award (presented by Angelina Jolie) a story about it appeared in the local newspaper in Renmark (South Australia) where Dean grew up. About 20 of the children from the local school wrote a letter to Dean asking if he could visit his home town and make a film with them one day. Dean wrote back and it was on.

Dean Semler, David Brill and friend

I arrived in Renmark a day early to get the quiet country town shots I knew would contrast beautifully with the glitz and hustle of Hollywood. The next day when Dean arrived the news media descended on the Renmark School. Dean carried with him his Oscar (wrapped up in a T-Shirt) and some signed photographs for the children from Hugh Jackman, Mel Gibson and Angelina Jolie. There was a civic reception at the town hall and a screening of Apocalypto, the film Dean shot with Mel Gibson. After this Dean and I went to Chanel 9 Studios in Adelaide where his career began. I captured him playing around with the big old studio cameras. There was also a lunch with his old Adelaide mates – cameramen, sound recordists, reporters, film lab technicians etc, which was terrific.

Later I went to Los Angeles to film Dean in Hollywood. We went to various locations including Panavision and the Mole Richardson museum. I interviewed Mel Gibson about working with Dean on Mad Max (1-3) and later again on Apocalypto - the first ever big budget movie shot digitally. Dean and Mel told me some great stories about shooting in the jungles of South America in light levels so low a film camera could not carry on. I’ve ended up with so much good material SBS are now completing a one-hour version of the story, to air on SBS’s cable Studio Arts Channel and there is a chance it will be shown overseas.

Trent Butler ACS "Ice Age"

Back in March this year, I had the pleasure of working with fellow ACS Tasmania member Tom Waugh, on an Al Jazeera documentary, titled ‘The Ice Age’.

Tom’s addition to the crew made for a fantastic production. These shoots are often time pressured, which ultimately results in the production quality suffering. Having Tom around during production, meant shots could be achieved that I would simply not be able to do alone. And most of all, we all had a great time making the documentary.

The subject matter was methamphetamine, specifically Ice, abuse in Australia and it required us to make a mock meth-lab, where an actor would ‘cook’ crystal meth. Tom researched this cooking process to perfection; to the extent where we were all a little concerned of his thorough knowledge! But unless Tom can make an illicit substance with paprika and sea salt, then I think we have nothing to worry about. Here are a few screen shots of the mock meth-lab and documentary:

Since April, I have been working in a different genre - reality television. I am just winding up on a production of a new series of ‘The Block’, here in Melbourne. It has been great fun, with a fantastic crew.

David Hudspeth – Noirhouse

I was lucky enough to be hired out as Gaffer on Tassie Drama "Noirhouse" with a great team of people. It was good to work with fellow ACS members, Director Shaun Wilson, Cinematographer Simon Gray, Focus puller Tom Waugh and Chris Fox from Aerial Inspections. Chris and Andrew Wharton from Rosny College backed me up as lighting assistants.

I am not usually working on Drama, so it was good to step outside of my usual role as Senior Cameraman at the ABC and contribute to a different kind of local production. I love watching the actors performances and am amazed how they maintain the level of performance take after take. I also love to see all the contributions from the different departments mesh to create a great result.

It was a privilege to work under Cinematographer Simon Gray and see how he tackles the challenges of a fast paced Drama shoot. Most of the scenes take place in a modestly sized room with white walls so there were a few lighting challenges. From what I could see the images from the Red Epic looked great.

DOP Simon Gray discuses a shot with Director Shaun Wilson

I am not sure when the new episodes will be available but keep an eye out for Noirhouse soon on ABC 2.

Watch the first three episodes of Noirhouse »

Dick Marks. OAM. - The BIG Idea.

I've always believed that the future belongs to people with ideas and during my recent overseas trip I became more convinced that that is so. We have become a global community of voyeurs who just love to watch, but what are we going to watch? Now is a great time to be creative.

During my travels I ended up in a small village called Kutna Hora, in a rural area of the Czech Republic and there I discovered what I believe is one of the most creative ideas ever conceived. In 1318, during the Black Plague, around 30,000 people in this community died from the Black Death. They were buried in and around the tiny church yard in Kutna Hora. Eventually their bones were exhumed to make way for more bodies and for centuries they piled up until in 1870, a local wood carver, Frantisek Rint, had the big idea… why not wash and bleach them and decorate the local church interior with them? A blinding flash of the obvious really, wouldn't you say?

By now he had the skeletal remains of over 40,000 bodies, so no shortage of material and what he designed and built is nothing short of wondrous. Every bone in the body was used in the decoration of the little Gothic Church of All Saints, and today the Sedlec Ossuary is an awesome sight and a significant tourist destination. The bones of over 10,000 people were used in one of the installations, the Pyramid of Bones, and not a stick of Blu Tack was used to hold them in place… clever Frantisek simply placed them in such a way that they would stay fast. And fast they stayed.

The focal point for me was the family crest of the noble Bohemian Schwarzenberg family, made from tiny bones and it features a raven, also fashioned from small human bones, perched on a shoulder bone and pecking into the eye socket of a Turkish soldiers skull. This morbid image is a re-occurring theme throughout The Czech Republic.

An enormous chandelier, obelisks, pyramids, crests, tiny sconces, piers, monstrances, garlands of skulls… all beautifully and skillfully made from human bones, combine to form an awesome display of man’s ingenuity and creativity. A big idea.

Doug Thost

My main gig in recent months has been creating a safety video for Helicopter Resources. They wanted something completely different to the 1980’s vintage version they currently use - but not an Air NZ pre-flight briefing. I've had a good association with Heli Res since 1988, so didn't want to produce a dud.

I wrote the script, signed up Joe Shemesh to shoot it, and arranged for the talented Meg Bignell to be the presenter. She was a much better option than the usual droning male voice-over dispensing all that vital info that has to be in one of these videos. Meanwhile, I had a crack at directing. As I write, the video is approaching completion (well, I'm rendering a version anyway).

For me, it has involved a crash course in Final Cut X as well as a crash course for my GoPro, which survived me attempting to replicate the "blade" POV shot that is so striking on the opening titles sequence of the ABC Foreign Correspondent program.

Ever since I first saw that shot, I thought it was a great POV, so was keen to see if I could wangle a way for it to be in my final product. My Hero-3 fell (to what I thought would be its certain death) twice from blade height to the tarmac, yet survived. Finally, as a last resort, I loaded the suction cap with drool as I attached it to the blade.

This worked. I am now thinking of bottling my saliva and marketing it as a "foolproof suction cap solution". I was mightily impressed with how robust the GoPro is after its brush with gravity though…

My gyro camera mount has been providing me with other work. Joe Shemesh has used it regularly on a number of aerial shoots around the state, for Essential Media, Tasmanian Air Adventures, and a private project. I did some very cool flying looking over Joe’s shoulder a couple of weeks ago.

We flew down the Franklin River gorge at not-many-feet-above-the-river-or-from-the-rocks altitudes. Although my mount is gradually becoming redundant with the advent of MoVI-like rigs-and-drones, sometimes brute force and physics just works, so I may get a few more hires out of it…

Recently I got to play second camera to Joe, with Tom Waugh and Gary Rhodes. It was to record Dean Stevenson's orchestral piece "Tim Passes" for Dark MOFO. What an amazing piece! Very moving, full of emotion, and outstandingly lit too. It was a privilege to help shoot it.

Doug and Joe looking very apocalypse now

Pawel Achtel - No Take Two (Filming Sea of Love)

I am currently filming for Sea of Love, a 3D Giant Screen film. It explores the many ways marine animals show their love for each other. It begins where love is irrelevant - with the spectacle of mass coral spawning, the ultimate in indiscriminate coupling - but then reveals the intimate and social bonding behaviour of the ocean’s real lovers.

Intimate animal behaviour is rarely seen, and even more difficult to film. It can be rarely predicted with desired accuracy and it can be all over in a blink of the eye. The “actors” are unaware of the script and there is no dress rehearsal. There is no second chance or take two.

Our Coral Spawning trip required extensive research of our “actors”, timing and location of the anticipated spectacle. We needed to pin point the climax, as this is what we were most interested to capture. It happens at night and each species has preferred timing, position of the moon, tide and current assisting them with their performance.

This meant being in the water with the camera focused and lights set up waiting for the exact moment. Once they get into the mood, they release the sperm and millions of eggs within seconds and, once the sperm and eggs are released there is no more sex until the next year. If you looked in the wrong direction for just a few seconds, you could miss the whole event and months of preparations and all the effort would go in vain. For this reason it is important to have the cameras focused correctly, aimed at where the action will take place, synchronised, shutters Gen-locked, framed correctly and with the right amount of 3D parallax. Luckily, with our 3Deep 3D housing setup this was the easy part!

After spending hours in the darkness you often ask yourself: have I just missed it or is it going to go off in a second? And, finally they went off. First was the male colony of large Porites coral released huge cloud of sperm within seconds. Then, within just a few minutes and some distance away, a female Porites colony, released a snowfield of little eggs. Luckily, with the small size of our 3D housing I was able to capture both male and female climax in all desired glory. How rare is such a show? According to one research scientist onboard - a professor at James Cook University, he has never seen Porites spawning in the wild. We were lucky: this was not only and extremely rare, but also very spectacular coral love affair.

Earlier this year my search for love in the sea took me to one of the most abundant ocean habitats and home of thousands of ocean lovers: Palau in Micronesia. Here, our aim was to scout for locations, research spawning and mating aggregations and film some of the action. The reason Palau has an incredible array of marine life is because of strong currents bringing particles and nutrients from deeper waters. Sometimes, the currents are so strong that it is impossible to even remain the same position and even divers with no cameras are swept away downstream. The surface conditions were even worse: huge waves and winds tossing the boat like a toy in a bath.

Small size and titanium construction of 3Deep housing again paid off. I was rewarded with some spectacular 3D images fish aggregations. I was also able to get lots of footage of shark and manta ray cleaning and feeding behaviour. Our custom modified RED Epic cameras fitted with our custom Colour Science filtering can not only see through milky water with astounding clarity and sharpness, but now can also overcome the grey-magenta tint and reproduce pleasing gradations of blue water colour while retaining other colours at the same time – something not possible with standard RED Epic cameras.

The reason people go to watch Giant Screen films is to experience a spectacle. The success of achieving that spectacle lies in capturing the beauty, action and colour of the underwater romance, knowing that this is once in a lifetime opportunity with no second chance to capture it again.

Coral spawning. No second chances.

Peter Harmsen - Natures Dark Mofo

The Aurora Australis, or the ‘southern lights’, has been getting a lot of exposure lately, for two main reasons. One, us lucky Taswegians live in a fortunate position, far south, and on the edge of the auroral oval. This means that the lights circling the South Pole are closer to us than other southern lands, like South America, or New Zealand. The other, and more exciting reason for us picture minded people, is that new equipment, mainly DSLR’s (even inexpensive ones) are now so sensitive that it is within the modest skill-set of most of us to get out and take truly stunning images.

So, you’ve got a half reasonable DSLR, a solid tripod, a remote shutter release, a fast lens, high ISO setting, a head torch, beanie and your black puffer jacket. Now all you need is a clear night, a little moon (not too much), a south facing view, preferably of the horizon, little or no wind and a spot away from city light pollution. All set?...... Now you just need an aurora……. oh, and you need that aurora to happen at night.

There are several smart phone apps to download that can give you wildly inaccurate forecasts - sending you out with excited anticipation only to witness an inky black and blank sky, or give you no alert when the lights are absolutely pumping. They will give you indications of things like Coronal Mass Ejections, and BZ indexes and all kinds of wonderful information to decipher.

It’s the mystery of the chase that can be the most frustrating, or the most rewarding. Just getting out and about in our great landscape on a clear night can be reward enough. Aurora or not, pictures of the stars and the milky way silhouetted behind rugged mountains, or ghostly trees, or reflected in silky, slow shutter speed waters always warm the creative juices. Just get out and experiment - it’s free.

Sometimes you see a bit of colour creeping into a test shot, and decide to start a time-lapse. Then you wait and watch (don’t touch) to see if the aurora either fires, of fizzles. It’s exciting. When bright beams of colour start dancing around the sky, and are visible to the naked eye, and you know (or hope) that you’ve got your settings right, you can ditch the puffer jacket – the moment warms you.

The dark, the cold, the telly, the fire, and the couple of glasses of red are all obstacles that need to be overcome, but this is the DarkMofo of nature and it’s definitely not to be missed.

The 2015 ACS National awards poster features one of Pete's shots and is a compilation of 200 x 30 second exposures, shot over a two hour period. The same images make up the time-lapse at the end of the video promo…… and yes, it was freezing!

Andrew Harcourt - Southern Cross Austereo Move

Finally after many years two have become one. Southern Cross Television, SEA-FM and Heart 107.3 have come together under one roof at 2 Melville Street. Television operations had to vacate the old Argyle Street premises last December. We managed to temporarily squeeze most people into the radio offices in Liverpool Street although it was quite squishy.

News operations had to move straight to the new site at Melville Street due to a lack of space at Liverpool Street and they needed access to the DVN network to send news items north for broadcast.

It has been a challenging time for our News operations having to work in temporary digs while major building construction went on around them. Melville Street is a complete green-field digital install with 4 new digital radio studios and a new television studio, significantly bigger than our old one in Argyle Street. The new facility offers state-of-the-art radio studios that can lend themselves to many applications.

The television studio is still a work in progress, but operational… we have so far installed all new LED cool lights and a new digital audio console, with more to come. Designing and installation has not been an easy task, with many staff going above and beyond, working horrendous days and hours to see the project complete. Cabling an pre-existing building produced a number challenges and many days of just hauling cable though narrow ducts and walls.

We’ve spent weeks of late nights terminating and checking all the cables and finally we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The main move was mid April where everyone from Liverpool Street made the trek a couple of blocks up the road to their new home.

The Premier Will Hodgman opened the new offices a few weeks ago with the TSO wowing everyone in attendance. Although not yet complete all systems are up and operational, while the infrastructure behind the scenes is being finished off. Exciting days are ahead, but it is great to have a fine new spacious facility and terrific to finally have all our people in one place together, instead of split across the city.

Andy Cunningham – Becoming a cameraman

"A good photograph is knowing where to stand" – Ansell Adams

As a somewhat newbie cameraman with the ABC in Hobart I can honestly say that Ansell’s words are crucial to the success of gathering good quality news images for broadcast. I moved to Tasmania with my Australian wife and two young boys from the UK in 2004, having worked as a Transmission Controller for the BBC and Discovery Channels in London.

A holiday in the "Apple Isle" turned into a full-time job in Hobart and I was originally hired as a videotape operator on Collectors and local footy broadcasts, but I’d always had a desire to be a cameraman. In 2011 I could see the writing on the wall for the demise of local outside broadcasts, so I decided to learn how to use a P2 news camera.

Under the guidance of expert hands I shadowed a number of operators on assignments, until I felt confident enough to give it a go. I will never forget when senior cameraman Dave Hudspeth casually said I should record an actual interview with a forestry guy one quiet Sunday afternoon in Richmond. After setting everything up for lighting and audio my heart was pounding as the red light came on in the viewfinder. I was petrified of having to change the exposure levels, as it would mean I had to react subtly to the changing conditions. I did adjust them a bit and hoped it wouldn’t ruin the crucial grabs for that night’s story. It didn't and I was thrilled to see my first interview go to air that evening.

Andy Cunningham

What is so interesting and challenging as a news cameraman is that you have to be prepared to cover anything and everything. You also have to keep abreast of constantly evolving technology and always seek to improve your skills and technique. One of my first solo jobs was going to film a lucky male Tassie Devil that had been selected for a breeding program. I remember walking in to his enclosure in Taroona (where humans are rarely allowed to go) and seeing a group of them all staring at me as if to say ‘what the hell are you doing here?’ The Devils eventually came out to play and I got the shots I needed.

Another unusual job I covered was early last year when a stranded French sailor was picked up by a cruise ship from the vast and unforgiving Southern Ocean. The ship had been on its way to Macquarie Island and had to divert to Hobart, which left some passengers rather unhappy. The ensuing media scrum was insane. I covered the rescue press conference which was broadcast around the world, but unfortunately my pictures looked quite soft because in all the excitement of filming the ship’s arrival I had left the lens extender and 6db of gain switched on.

Such errors inevitably test your self-belief but looking back I only made a mistake like that once. Developing confidence is an important aspect of news-gathering which you only get with experience.

I made no such errors when the seemingly infallible timber giant Gunns suddenly collapsed and I put my first live press conference to air on News-24 from Parliament Lawns. After running up and down stairs to the media room to make sure everything was connected correctly it went without a hitch. On the other side of the forestry divide I also covered the end of a fifteen-month Styx Valley tree-sit by Miranda Gibson in March 2013. As several cameras positioned their lenses vertically to see her abseil 60 meters down from the treetops my camera alarm went off and appeared to have stopped recording. I powered my camera off and on which seemed to resolve the problem but I was worried I’d lost my priceless ‘money shot’.

Back at base all the vision was eventually ingested successfully into the edit system and the error turned out to be a rare camera software bug that was soon fixed by our tech wizards. As I mentioned earlier you have to be prepared for anything, but talk about bad timing for such an unusual fault!
Most people either love or hate to be in front of the camera and a big part of the job I have discovered is in managing people.

Beyond the basics of framing, focusing, exposure and depth-of- field, I have developed my own acronym, TALCUM, to help me obtain the optimum vision of any story:

T – Talent (directing and managing of)
A – Angles (best of, it’s amazing what a difference a few inches in any direction makes)
L – Light (source & orientation)
C – Colour Temperature (adjusted for)
U – UPSOT (Any natural audio effects can really add to a story)
M – Multiple shots (Wide, Mid and CU from any position)

Last year I learned what it was like to be in front of the camera when one of my colleagues Scott Ross turned up unannounced up at my citizenship ceremony. He had been sent to the Town Hall to film attending politicians but he noticed me and recorded it for me to keep (at the time I thought it might have been for the Christmas Tape).

Cameras are powerful weapons and having been on the pointy end of one I have greater empathy for anyone who volunteers to be in my viewfinder. This is particularly true when we film outside court and we have to be extremely vigilant to the risk of being attacked by people who have potentially broken the law. I recently called for a back up from work when I found myself on my own outside the Hobart Magistrates Court trying to film an alleged rapist. At the time a biker guy covered in tats questioned who I was trying to shoot - I quickly replied that it wasn’t him. After a long wait my target saw me and ran past with his hoodie up which I dutifully recorded for posterity.

All-in-all camerawork is the best job I can think of as the camaraderie of the guys behind the scenes is always one of amusing banter and mutual support. It can take you from anything from the bread-and-butter of political press conferences, to something quite moving like the reopening of Dunalley school after it was destroyed by bushfire. Sometimes its not so nice, like a major road accident I attended recently where a B-double truck killed an old lady driving out of a gardening centre, apparently without looking.

They are all life stories that effect real people and you never know what any given day will bring, which makes working in the field such an adventure. Being prepared for any eventuality is particularly useful as we head in to a world of economic and environmental uncertainty but one thing is for sure, I'll be there to record it!

Cine Gear Expo 2014

For the first time ever the ACS had a presence at the Cine Gear Expo in LA. This massive event is held at Paramount Studios and most of the stalls are spread around the ‘New York City Streets’ lot (as seen in countless movies shot over many decades). This was only made possible through the generosity of one of our best sponsors, Deluxe. If you would like to read the excellent ACS Event Report about Cine Gear and our role in it, please check this link on the ACS website.

Cine Gear »

ACS CineKids

A certificate for the new ACS awards category.

At the recent ACS General Meeting held in Brisbane, the ACS National Executive proudly launched its latest initiative - ACS CineKids.

This new membership category has been created to encourage and foster interested kids up to the age of 15 years to participate and take an active hands-on approach to Cinematography. Even more young people will be able to experience the inspirational community of the ACS. While membership to the ACS is actively open to anyone involved in the industry this initiative opens the doors to those that aspire to or are already producing content to join the fostering of cinematography knowledge across all genres and mutual cooperation between all our members.

An ACS CineKids Member is a young person, 15 years or under, who has a passion for cameras and filmmaking. ACS CineKids will receive a Welcome Pack with a membership certificate, membership card, note pad and pen, access to our E news both National & State, and various screenings and workshops, along with mentoring from our ACS cinematographers.

Commenting on the ACS CineKids initiative National President of the Australian Cinematographers Society Ron Johanson OAM ACS said, “The ACS firmly believes it is our responsibility to encourage the future generations of cinematographers in every possible way we can, as the future of cinematography, across all genres depends on it.”

To find out more and how to join ACS CineKids click on the following link:

CineKids »

New ABC News Set

The boys check their work on a monitor. (L-R) Andrew George, Peter Curtis, Scott Ross. Photo by Tony Lomas.

Recently on a busy weekend ACS Tas members Peter Curtis and Scott Ross helped transition the old ABC News and 7:30 Tas sets out of Studio 71 in Hobart and slid in the fancy new ‘all purpose’ hosting set you now see each night. While they were busy shifting, plugging and lighting the new set they lit a temporary news host position in the Hobart newsroom for the weekend bulletins.

The new set had its challenges. It is substantially larger than the old one and has a number of LED and fluoro light elements built into the set, desk and associated screens. The recently purchased Photon-Beard fluoro fixtures and PL-1 LED lights really suited the set, allowing soft but controlled lighting that wraps around the big central desk with minimal spill on areas where it’s not wanted. Pete and Scott spent a lot of time planning how they would light it all and were very happy it went so well and looked good right from day one. Andrew George, who coordinated the new ABC News sets going in around Australia, reckons the Tassie one looks the best in the country.

Updating your ACS database Profile

When was the last time you logged into you ACS account to update your contact details and professional profile? If your contact information is not current you may be missing out. It's a good time to log in and set up your account the way you want it. Check your email is the preferred point of contact, and that your postal address is where you want your AC Magazine mailed to each quarter. Also update phone numbers or add website and Bio information.
Additionally you can set your eNews preferences so you receive all the eNews publications from each State and Nationally or only the ones you want. Log in to check or update your ACS account before it's too late!!

Click on the link below to visit the ACS website and login at the top right side of the Homepage.

If you've forgotten your Login details or password click on the Recover Password link below the Login box. Please contact David Hudspeth if you are having any problems.

www.cinematographer.org.au/ »



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