IBC 2014 live show replay: Philip Grossman films Chernobyl nuclear disaster zone with the Sony FS700 and DJI quadcopters

By site editor Dan Chung:

At the IBC show this year we spoke to Philip Grossman, a documentary maker who has been pursuing his dream to make a film about the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The reactor breach in April 1986 led to a radioactive fallout that caused much of the surrounding area to be evacuated. Fewer than fifty people officially died in the accident, but the subsequent death toll due to radiation exposure is unknown – predictions put the number of cancer deaths in the thousands. Increased numbers of deformities at birth in the fallout zone in both humans and animals are attributed by many to the radiation leak.

Chernobyl reactor No.4
Chernobyl reactor No.4

A large concrete sarcophagus was built over the failed reactor an in the ensuing decades the surrounding area has been sealed off. Few journalists or documentary makers have been granted access to the site, which after the fall of the Soviet Union, is now in Ukraine.

Grossman, who in his day job works at the Weather channel, travelled to the site and managed to secure permission to shoot footage both from the ground and the air for his upcoming documentary. Watch the replay of our Teradek live show at IBC to learn about his experiences.

Philip Grossman in protective clothing ready to enter the Bsmt Jupiter Factory
Philip Grossman in protective clothing ready to enter the Bsmt Jupiter Factory
The Sony FS700 with Tilta rig and Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q recorder
The Sony FS700 with Tilta rig and Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q recorder

As he explains, the cameras used for the shoot were Sony’s FS700 and Z100 camcorder, as well as a Panasonic GH4 shooting in 4K for B-roll. On recent trips the FS700 has been equipped with Convergent Design’s Odyssey 7Q external recorder. Grossman also used DJI quadcopters extensively during the filming and this footage gives a dramatic perspective not seen before.

The town of Pripyat viewed from the air
The town of Pripyat viewed from the air
Hospital No. 126, Pripyat
Hospital No. 126, Pripyat

Grossman also shot in the town of Pripyat, which although right next to reactor was not immediately evacuated after the accident. Within hours of the explosion many townsfolk were exposed and fell ill. Below is Grossman’s quick cut footage shot from the Basement Hospital No. 126 in Pripyat. He describes on the video description that “you can here the Geiger counter turn on…the levels got over 2,000 μSv (normal background radiation is 0.2 μSv)”.

After several trips to the zone filming for Grossman’s documentary is nearly complete. I for one look forward to seeing the finished film when its done.

Filming in the zone with the Sony Z100 camcorder
Filming in the zone with the Sony Z100 camcorder

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