To most visitors, Hong Kong it is just a shopping and restaurant bonanza with high fashion names on every street corner and food outlets everywhere. There are approximately 7 million of us packed into a small area with most of us living in high-rise building. To most people our backyards are the streets below where we live. To me 50% of Hong Kong land mass is My Backyard.
Unbeknown to most, just less than 50% of Hong Kong is a Country Park and to me this is where I work and spend most of my free time. Over the past 15 years the majority of my filming has been in these parks.
It is no easy task as the temperature and humidity in summer is extremely high. Summer temperatures reach mid 30’s C with humidity in high 90’s. This makes carrying a Betacam camera, Anton Bauer brick batteries, tripod and most importantly water and lunch a real burden. The parks are crossed by many hiking trails ranging from the longest, the McLehose Trail of 100km and the Wilson Trail and just behind the airport, the Lantau Trail. Over the years we have worked out that 3 people is the optimum, one carrying the tripod on a specially modified backpack frame as well as lunch, one carrying the water, she is the luckiest as the weight decreases as the day goes on and I am the one carrying the Betacam camera, lens, matte box and 2 Anton Bauer bricks together with time-lapse controller and hand held automatic radio time code logger, all packed tightly into a portabrace large backpack. The logger is a key part of the gear as our videos rely on using footage that we may have shot years ago (Country Parks rarely change in outlook over time). This logger grabs the time code, time and date every time we roll the camera, it is downloaded into excel and can be sorted and imported into FCP for easy digitizing. We now have 30 – 40,000 entries in excel.
Only once have we not reached our destination but we decided to abort the trip as we all were starting to be affected by heatstroke and it was decided it better to rest under a tree than later have to call out the emergency services. Normally our lunch location is determined by where we think we can shoot a good time lapse so the camera doesn’t get a break it just keeps on filming while we eat.
Jump forward now to 2009, what joy it was when Canon released their Canon 5D Mark 2, here we have what we have been dreaming about for years, a lightweight High Definition camera. The 5DM2 camera with batteries weighs less than one of our former brick batteries. Now tripod can be lighter, we still can do time-lapse, spare “tapes” are now small CF cards. Matte box has been a problem until friends at Genus have said they would make a prototype of the clamp on mattebox that could use my 4×5.65 graduated filters – Thanks.
All the crew is happy now, I have all my gear in a small backpack, and the only person complaining is the “water girl” she still starts off the day with the same weight as before.
As to logging, currently I am using Expression Media it is easy to use and grabs a thumbnail of each shot.
As a side note my hobby is bird photography, I can now get my trusty Canon 400mm f5.6 lens into the pack and shoot stills with the same camera – Thanks Canon for coming out with a great tool which now allows me to be more creative in my ultimate aim of creating Visitor Centre videos that will wow their audiences.
And now they have released the Canon 7D and I had thought I had reached my ultimate with the 5DM2, what will 2010 bring – I know what somebody hopes “lightweight water”
Ungraded 7D test footage by Bob Thompson using a 50mm f1.8 at 1250 ISO