Free running with the Panasonic GH2 – Frank Sauer shoots the fast moving sport using autofocus

My short documentary Dream World is about Jason Paul, a free runner who tries to find new ways in his daily life to fulfil his inner needs. On his journey to London he discovers that friendship and
companionship are essential values in life.

Jason Paul is an outstanding free running athlete and a good friend of mine. When he asked me to join him at the Red Bull Art of Motion event in London I was more than willing to break out of my daily routine as an animator and director. Free running is still a very young sport. An event like the Red Bull Art of Motion gives athletes from all over the world the possibility to meet, train and communicate in real life, instead of checking each other’s videos on Facebook.

On this particular trip my personal dream was to have a great time with all the athletes, while having the possibility to shoot my short documentary. From the beginning on I wanted to make a film about free running that is not based on difficult tricks or risky jumps, but on interesting characters and the philosophy that comes with it. We started our journey in Frankfurt, Germany, where we went to isolated run-down houses as well as crowded pedestrian areas. I myself had to climb quite a few times to get the shots I wanted or just to follow the guys on their run. I tend to let things happen or just let people do their thing, hoping to discover something within the moment.

All the equipment – including the light weight Panasonic GH2, GoPro HD, Panasonic 20mm, Panasonic 14-140mm, Panasonic 7-14mm, Zoom H4n, Rode VideoMic Pro, Joby Gorillapod and a small rig – fitted in one backpack and made it possible to follow the guys.

The Panasonic GH2 rig ready to shoot
The Panasonic GH2 kit all fitted neatly into a backpack

I use a lot of other HDSLRs, but for this particular project I chose the GH2. One reason is the amazing auto-focus system that is sadly only compatible with the Panasonic lenses. The film was completely shot without external monitor or viewfinder. During the two days of shooting, there was not a lot of time to set up a shot and pull focus. When I found a moment that I wanted to capture I needed it to be in focus in an instant.

Back home in Germany it took me two week of editing to finish the film. Jens Fischer did a great job doing the sound design. I am grateful to live in times where almost everybody has the opportunity to become a videographer, filmmaker, whatever, without going bankrupt. Everybody has got a story to tell.

Frank Sauer is a director, designer and animator located in Darmstadt, Germany:
With four years commercial experience, his clients include SAT1, BBC, Discovery Channel and a lot more. You can see more of his work at http://frank-sauer.com/

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