Filming on the road is a tricky endeavor. You don’t have access to extra camera gear like you do in a studio, your crews are much smaller, and you have very limited space. You can bring nothing but the most essential pieces of your camera package, so you better choose wisely. Combine low budgets and freezing temperatures and you have a mountain of challenges for filming a new travel documentary across Iceland.
Monitoring on the road is especially difficult considering how bulky, heavy and expensive your favorite monitors are. Anthony Littlechild, cinematographer, was on the road with his crew for 14 days with everything packed in a single truck. He shares how they captured the most amazing shots with just a small team of 4 people and a monitoring solution that allowed everyone to see the shot.
A New Documentary
“I was DP for a travel show last year called Photo Number 6 (@photonumber6) where we traveled around the world doing a 12-episode series of 12 different countries. The tour guide in Iceland was a photographer called Mark Andreas Jones, who’s been leading photography tours in Iceland for over 10 years now. He knows this country like the back of his hand, and after doing Photo Number 6, he wanted to do a photography documentary which included hidden spots in Iceland that only the locals knew. So this documentary was completely funded by him.” - Anthony Littlechild, Director of Photography.
“The plan was a 14-day trip in an anti-clockwise route around the entire country following the weather going to very secluded locations. We landed in Reykjavik, prepped and went to crazy locations like the Godafoss Waterfall, Vestrahorn, Lindafoss, and of course the must-see location Jökulsárlon Iceberg Beach. We had just 4 people in our crew all shoved into a single Toyota Hilux, which we kept all of our gear in too. Mark Jones, the host and tour guide who made this project happen. Stig Wemyss was the director. John Servedio was our audio guy. And Dillon Pierce on B-Cam and AC. Shooting on the road - you don’t have the luxury of large crews and lots of gear. So we wore multiple hats and made do with what we were able to bring.”
Our Gear for the Road
“We did a 2-camera setup using an ARRI Amira Premium and Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro, and occasionally we’d have a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K on our DJI Ronin S, but it was mostly shot on the Amira and Ursa. Since I came to Iceland last year, I knew the snow and sunlight would make monitoring a pain in the ass, so we went with a SmallHD 5” Focus OLED mounted to the Amira that had enough brightness to see without a sun hood.”
“Our secret weapon for this was 2 Serv Pros - one on each camera. The director Stig was monitoring on an iPad Mini and our audio guy John connected his iPhone to it. Since an iPad is so small and light, Stig was able to be completely mobile while monitoring all the shots. For audio though, this was even better. There’s nothing worse than having the boom in shot, and usually he’d have to ask the camera operator for that info. Since the Serv Pros put the video on his iPhone, he just kept his phone strapped to him and kept the boom out of the shot at all times.”
Monitoring On Our Own Devices
“When you’re on a traveling shoot like this, there’s not really the time and space for big heavy equipment. I couldn’t just bring a 19” or 20” video village monitor because we’d not only need a ton of space, it would take too long to set up. And in Iceland, the weather can change very suddenly so time is precious. Serv Pros were the best way to do this. The iPad fit in the camera case so we didn’t need to lug big monitors around, and everyone already had their own iPhones so they could tune in at any time.”
“If we didn’t have the Serv Pros, we’d have to bring two different wireless video systems and monitors for the team. But thanks to iPad monitoring, we saved a ton of time on every location and shot in beautiful locations the world has rarely seen before.”Check out more of Anthony Littlechild’s work at: