Shooting a promo for Wide Open Reno

Photos Courtesy Andrew Grimshaw

I've just returned from one of the more punishing shoots in recent memory.  Three days with the crew at Wide Open Adventures in Reno Nevada.  These guys take everyday Joes out into the middle of the Nevada Desert and turn them loose in competition ready Baja Challenge Cars capable of doing tripple digit speeds over the roughest terrain I've ever stepped foot on, much less driven over.

The cars are amazing, the location is intense, and the footage is to die for.  We went out armed with the Sony FS-700 high speed camera and a selection of Nikon and Canon glass.  This combined with the tried and true HDX900, GH2, and RePlayXD made for a versatile and capable mix of kit.

The FS-700 is the first camera Sony has produced in quite a while to make me sit up and take notice.  I have always been a fan of Panasonic's color space and ergonomics over Sony, but I have to say there is a lot about the FS-700 to love.  The Sony adheres to the Box with a Lens design philosophy that has permeated camera design since the DSLR revolution.  This makes for some awkward hand held but once on sticks, the Sony's design is comfortable and logical. The stand out feature of the FS-700 is it's extremely wide range of frame rates.  Shooting off road BC Cars at 960 fps was a revelation.  Seeing how degraded the 960 was once we saw it on a proper monitor was a different story.  The 960 is truly only useful for watching your golf swing, not for shooting real footage.  I'll call it a gimmick.  A cool gimmick to be sure, but a gimmick nonetheless.  The camera really shines at 240 fps which was more than slow enough to capture the style and quality of motion and detail we were looking for.

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This marked my first time working with the Tyler Mini Gyro as well.  The Mini was used with both he FS-700 and the GH2 to achieve some fantastic car to car shots over very rough terrain.  We were originally planning to shoot from a four seater BC Car on the trail, but it quickly became obvious that even with the BC Car's 18" of suspension travel, the terrain was just too rough for the Tyler Mini Gyro to survive.   We found portions of the trail that paralleled either paved road or well graded gravel and successfully pulled of some stellar shots of the cars at speed.  When combined with the lens stabilization on the GH2, the Mini Gyro hand held in the back of an F250 was smooth enough to allow stable shots at almost 300mm while traveling over 60mph.  Truly impressive.  I'll be posting the finished promo, and hopefully some early footage ASAP.

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