How DSLR allowed Simon to make great video while keeping a low profile in a country that is largely out of bounds to western media.
I have been involved in production and post production and taking photographs for over a decade now. When I saw the videos shot by Vincent Laforet and Dan Chung on the 5DmkII it was immediately apparent that I should invest in one.
After testing it out on a low budget video production, where it happened to save the day, I wanted to put the 5DmkII through its paces and I conjured up the idea of traveling through Myanmar.
Without delving into the intricacies of the situation there, what really set the tone before I went was the advice of an acquaintance who had set up an NGO in Myanmar. In essence, I ought to be wary approaching people and broaching sensitive subjects as this could seriously compromise them with the powers that be. They would be the ones to bear the consequences of the exchange, whether or not they imparted anything that might rattle the established order. I also heard that the military were less than fond of people taking pictures of them. Actually, I didn’t have a pressing journalistic agenda for this trip but I wanted at least to have a good look and get a feel for the place.
I had reason to suspect that my luggage would be checked on arrival so I purposely limited my equipment and decided not to bring any professional audio gear. I thought too many accessories would make the 5D appear more journalistic – otherwise it appears like any DSLR carried by tourists enthusiastic about photography. Light and low profile was the order of the day.
I took 3 Canon L lenses, an essential ND filter for shooting video, a polarizer screw on, step down rings for all the lenses and the very light and compact Gitzo traveler tripod. I also had a rain cover, which came in very handy when riding around in a powered boat. Finally, I bought an Archos 5 Internet Media tablet, to which I could connect a CF card reader and transfer files. I could also view jpgs on the Archos, though it wasn’t quite up to playing 1080p. All my equipment, except the 5DmkII body with lens, fitted comfortably into a small backpack and could go with me wherever I went.
I used a simple guidebook to help navigate my way around the country. I was on my own time and could ramble around, seeking out things that interested me, choosing favorable shooting positions and waiting for good light. It was an enjoyable process. I could happily labour over composition, exposure and the use of filters. I could easily go around on foot or bicycle, even trek through forest and traverse hills with all the equipment. I could walk up hundreds of steps and then shoot the emerging vista in HD. The limitation with camera support meant that I had static camera the whole time, but I’m quite happy with what I achieved.
Myanmar is very hot and I would say that the most useful equipment I had – second only to the more technologically advanced sun block – was a hat. Luckily, I didn’t have any problems with the camera overheating. The equipment was very light and performed admirably and did not impede my travels at all. The Myanmar I discovered was a friendly one; certainly a place that seems wealthier in spirit than in anything else.
You can contact Simon and see more of his work here http://www.emotefilms.com/