Johnnie Behiri shoots National Geographic ‘Africa’ on Canon 7D

BBC freelance cameraman Johnnie Behiri shoots his second commercial film for National Geographic bags.

NG “Africa” from Johnnie Behiri on Vimeo.

Following my last National Geographic bags film ‘Desert Adventure’, I was asked to produce, direct, film and edit ‘Africa’, to be shown in megastores, at exhibitions and in shops. The initial idea was to film in Africa, however budget and time constraints forced us to come up with a more creative idea. We thought how about making a nice, easygoing, fun music video? It may be 180 degrees away from National Geographic’s DNA but why not?

We began by asking Carol Alston-Bukowsky, an amazing singer and jazz teacher at Vienna’s State Opera Ballet School, to help create a dance that would “bring Africa into our urban jungle life” whilst featuring the new National Geographic Media Bags collection. Next, we chose our talented dancers, all but one recent graduates of the State Opera Ballet School.

We needed an original music score, so turned to Yehuda Ashash, who did a great job on “Desert Adventure”. Endless nights of back and forth exchanging of ideas evolved into a musical masterpiece which I love!

Rebecca with National Geograhic bag rain cover practicing turtle position
Having fun pretending to be monkeys

After two weekend rehearsals and a lot of time negotiating location permits, the day of the shoot came. While Vienna is a great place to live and very photogenic, the weather can be unpredictable, and the partly cloudy sky lost us some valuable shooting time. Originally I considered a multi-camera shoot but with some careful preparation I decided to shoot it solo.

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Equipped with the Canon 7D, Zacuto Z-finder, Canon 17-55mm f2.8 IS USM, Canon 70-200mm f4 IS USM, MkII Fader ND and Vocas DSLR shoulder rig (all nicely fitting into Kata’s Resource 61 bag) we met early morning ahead of a long shooting day. Joining me on the set were Cpm3 who shot the “making of”, and Alfred who assisted when needed.

The location I chose for shooting had the two things I was looking for: a highly reflective bright floor, to help enhance the colours of the clothes and the relatively dark bags; and a lot of people. It was an extremely busy place full of people during weekends. My aim was to “feel” the people but not to “see” them, with a background made up of moving, anonymous figures. The 7D and the lenses I chose helped me to achieve that.

The clip is made from two principal sequences, the main one shot in the full sunshine at 1080/25p. The other, shot during late afternoon to help get a rainy feeling, at 720/50p to be slowed down later in editing

Take a look at the “making of” video below, I hope you see that this project was all about simplicity and fun!

NG-“Africa bag collection” making of from Johnnie Behiri on Vimeo.

Editing was done on Adobe Premiere CS2. All files were converted to the Cineform codec using the Neo 4K plug-in prior to editing. Colour enhancement was done with Cineform’s “First Light”.

Johnnie is working in Vienna, Austria.
Johnnie also films documentaries, commercials, music videos, and marketing videos when not working for the BBC.

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