View Full Version : 2 REDs for a documentary in the Amazon - need experienced opinions/advise in NYC
09-20-2007, 05:47 PM
I am preparing a documentary about an Expedition to film the one of the world's largest freshwater fish: Arapaima Gigas.
In the wild, the fish lives in the lagoons of the Amazons and can be found only in certain months of the year, at places known to few people in the world. One of them is the co-producer of this project, he has cought a 4.5m long 280 kg exemplar of this species last year.
Very few photographs and even less footage exists of this fish in its natural habitat. The co-producer found the fish twice already, but failed to have a proper crew to document that.
We want to change that and use the RED system to deliver imax-quality footage from that region of the world. A film about a man's struggle to catch a fish, that is said by the native indians to grew up to 8m and reach 450 kg. An ancient reptile, that survives in the few places not destroyed by man.
I am based in NYC and will direct and co-produce this endeavor.
I am looking for somebody, who would advise me how to setup a working RED system workflow. I would also need to see it actually working.
The main problem with this project, is the fact, that the location is 2 weeks by boat deep in the jungle. The humidity is about 80%. There is no budget for helicopter flights for the crew and equipment. Satellite phones and GPS work occasionally, when ou climb on top of the trees to get a signal. We need to bring in everything we need. Equador does not have any reliable film servicing, from all attempts I made so far.
We wanted to initially go for super16, but RED would allow much more of the budget to get on the screen. I wonder however, if it is robust enough, to survive such extreme hostile environment and if it will work for the 2-3 weeks where we will be cut off all civilization.
I would be glad for any comments/hints/advise. If there is a RED owner in NYC willing to participate/rent/or at least show the RED workflow in a studio, that would be a tremendous help.
Many thanks in advance.
09-20-2007, 06:22 PM
Very nice reel Jonas. And you and my nephew share a name, also cool.
It sounds like an exciting project. Actually sounds like you may have a movie in the making about a film crew that goes deep into the Amazon to search for a rare fish and all sorts of turmoil ensues. Perhaps you turn the camera on the crew at some point. :-)
In all seriousness though, this project sound slike it requires a very experienced crew with wildlife experience (Gibby perhaps). Is there a reasonable budget in place?
09-20-2007, 06:50 PM
Thank you for the compliment. My best to your nephew. I wonder, whether he knows the tale about Jona?
You are right, the expedition itself will be worth documenting it. I certainly thought of that, a reason why i would like to take 2 RED bodies with me: As a backup and a "making of" camera.
Talking about this, we get to money. We have about 150k at the moment, we hope to get a little more in the near future. Now, it may sound ridiculous for american producers, but we European, particularly Czech filmmakers are used to operate under very hard conditions. That's why we hope to make it with RED, so that we avoid all the nasty film processing, and can afford more production value during the shooting or in the post.
Having a 4k master will also open the possibility for getting more investors attached, when we have the rough cut, and can say, that the quality is there for theatrical or HD-DVD release, and the risky filming itself is done already.
We are no National Geographics team, with budget like Copolla had for Apocalypse Now. But unless we get eaten by a whale (at least I), we will do whatever we can to pull that off. I guess, this is the ugly beauty and challenge of this project.
Of course, we will always appreciate advise of similar-minded filmmakers, or even help and involvment, with the knowledge, that we may be on the edge of sanity.
09-20-2007, 09:36 PM
People are going to hate to hear my opinion on this, but going into the Amazon, I would want something tested and bullet-proof. Go Super 16 or 16 with an old battle tested camera and sound system.
Sorry RED, but the Amazon is just a bit too unpredictable.
My two cents.
09-21-2007, 05:57 AM
In my opinion, RED ONE cameras are my only choice for this type of filming. This is the type of cutting edge natural history filmmaking Steve Gibby and I love the most. Our company GibCor has been developing solutions for this type of filming pole-to-pole with RED ONE cameras since February based on our collective 40+ years of experience in the field.
This is SHOWBUSINESS so I would say hire Steve and I for the 2 weeks to field produce and shoot this amazing challenge rather than risk all your money and effort in an attempt to capture the expedition in 4K with RED. Put your limited funds into the professionals that do this for a living - that is the smart money. Y tambien, es importante si habla y comprende Espanol.
That said, clearly the money shot is underwater footage of the fish in-situ and its unique underwater environment.
Free advice at this point?
Carry Li ion field battery packs.
Take 2 RED ONE bodies prepped for the environment set up for EFP hand held mode with the EVF.
Carry and use a fistful of 16 GB CF cards (9 minutes 4K each?)
Bring an underwater pole cam with RED LCD - we have one by the way.
There are several other tips and solutions for this shoot based on past experience and also with shooting RED ONE cameras that we have in our "bag of tricks." These are what we get paid for though.
You are on the right track. Shooting 4K REDCODE RAW is the way to format proof the film project. In regards to "IMAX", aka, large format filming - 15 perf 70mm film is its own animal. We have yet to screen our 3D tests of REDCODE 4K RAW on the really big screen but it is our collective opinion that the underwater 4K will work very well in this medium both 2D and 3D.
The post work flow we are working with is a no brainer for down-rezzed 1080i HDCAM deliverables as well as 4K/2K digital, 35mm and 15 perf 70mm projection masters. We can prove the results to you here in LA if it makes you feel better - but trust me when I say we are all over the solutions end-to end.
09-21-2007, 06:33 AM
I say film the fish in 3D!
Seriously though, Ken is throwing you some good advice. These guys know these systems in and out having been on the forefront of Red technology. You will need a bullet proof setup going into the Amazon. If budget allows it, hire these guys. I think it will be money well spent.
Best of luck with this project, I look forward to the results.
09-21-2007, 10:32 AM
Thanks for your offer Jeffrey,
that is surely one option. 40 years of experience is a thing one cannot gain from books. Could you please get in touch with me via skype at "jonasrejman" ? I leave from NYC to Munich tomorrow, and I would like to talk with you about the conditions from there. Later, I will meet the co-producer in Prague.
Is there a way, for you to send me some RED footage, you created so far?
Can we evt. meet in NYC or LA, when I come back, end of October?
We have 2 other guys who will deliver aerial shootings from the jungle with the help of motorized parachutes, that they have developed, and they will also be responsible for part of the principal photography.
The main problem we see, is that we need a RED owner, who is willing to take his cameras to a test in this environment. I fully understand, that any damage is fatal to the business, when we look at the 4000 backorders of the cameras.
On the other hand, somebody has to go out there and test it, doesn't he? If the team around Steven Gibby is willing to take that risk, if we will not have a personality clash, and if you agree, that this is a limited budget production, then we will be more than happy to go ahead with you.
I also would like to note, that we have some contacts in Equador, and my partner has been there and cought the fish already, so there is some logistics we can and will rely on.
Here is a little teaser, of what the real "catch" of this production is:
09-21-2007, 10:42 AM
Wow, what a fish. Beautiful color.
09-21-2007, 11:06 AM
I will skype you after your return to Munich to discuss options. I am glad you are already thinking aerials. I have been a pilot since 1991 and can basically fly anything I can start and work off of ice, water, river beds you name it - asphalt is for jets. I was already thinking a Cessna 182 with my aerial strut mount for the RED 4K POV and canopy fly over shots in Ecuador. Jim's Caravan on amphibs is my dream expedition plane (as seen in his clip postings).
Listen, the BBC's Planet Earth series now sets the bar. If a production can not push the visual elements to the next level then stay home. This does not mean one needs $2 million USD to shoot a one-off.
Gibby and I have designed several amazing RED 4K technical shots specifically for our jungle based projects that we can offer as well.
BTW - I lived in Ecuador for a year. Went to school in Quito. Also, Jeffrey Katzenberg is the co-founder of DreamWorks that I am quoting - my name is Ken Corben, aka, Sharky.
09-21-2007, 11:25 AM
jonas, this sounds like an amazing story. my favorite kind of film.
have you seen the movie POROROCA: SURFING THE AMAZON...here's an IMDB listing.
it might be a good idea to try to get in touch with these filmmakers as well. bill heath, the director, is a very accessible generous individual, a fantastic filmmaker, and a great guy. (i don't know him personally but had a chance to speak with him one-on-one at a film festival, and he's very warm and generous.) he has first-hand experience with working in that environment and would probably have very good advice in terms of handling cameras in that environment.
09-21-2007, 11:40 AM
I think you would be wise to take Sharky up on his offer. They know
Red almost as good as The big man himself, And They have a close
relationship with the company should anything happen, god forbid.
09-21-2007, 12:24 PM
i am a new member and i am also want to shoot a ducumentary on the amazo n -River ,so it would be very interesting to get some info how the Red is performing under those conditions,PLEASE LET ME KNOW HOW IT WORKED OUT WITH YOUR PROJEKT
09-21-2007, 01:17 PM
I am looking forward for you to get in touch with me. It seems, that you simply have to much to offer, to resist :-D :-D. Knowledge of Equador, knowledge of this kind of filmmaking, knowledge of RED. If only we will meet on the budget point.
I am well aware of the high bar of Planet Earth. But I have to stay realistic and see, that I do not have a budget for 4 years shooting and 250 locations.
I do not think, that we can come close to this quality, but I will not stay at home because of that. It is not my imagination, that is the limit, truly not. That is beyond pluto already. It is the budget. And this is the earth-based reality, I am in. For now, and for this particular project.
What I have is the 150k and we are new to this endeavors. So whatever offer you may throw at us, it is not a question of not willing, but more, if it fits into our little budget, or not.
That was one reason, why we want to use parachutes for the aerials, and not planes or helicopters. They can take off everywhere, as well, and the equipment weights about 40kg including the motor.
Where will is, there is a way. If you are willing to help us out in this, knowing, that we are not National Geographics or BBC doing IMAX productions, then we will speak the same language.. We are enthusiastic filmmakers and adventurers, who try to reach out for the unknown.
For all others, thank you for your input. Soon, I will set up a little site for this project, where I will post the development of this project.