It would appear that Zero Point Zero Production
does it all. A nearly decade-old television and digital content production company, the group also scouts, develops, markets, and distributes entertainment, producing television shows for Discovery
, Travel Channel
, History Channel
. Since its inception, the company has produced over 225 hours of television in 80 countries around the world, including the critically acclaimed shows, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
and Diary of a Foodie
. We sat down with ZPZ Director of Technology, Chris Faulkner, to talk about some of the company’s latest projects, the state of the industry and what we can look forward to from his team.
You recently posted a pretty phenomenal video in which you tested the slow-mo capabilities of one of your cameras using the Fujinon PL 19-90 Cabrio lensfor Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain. Tell us about the show and how the equipment performed.
Our DPs Mo Fallon, Todd Liebler, and Zach Zamboni just left for the very first episode of Parts Unknown
. They love our new camera rig and can't stop cooing over the 19-90mm Cabrio. It's a great balance of size, sharpness, weight and range. We're all impressed with this new lens.
What other projects are you working on right now?
We just finished shooting another episode of MeatEater
with Steve Rinella.
You moonlight as an instructor at the School of Visual Arts in NYC. Do you think teaching gives you a little bit of an edge in terms of keeping you “on your game” in the field?
My class at SVA is made up of first-year film students. I get a mix of newbies, film fans, and budding cinematographers, all of whom are just starting to find their voice in a visual medium. I'm a big proponent of learning by doing, so I have them out on the streets of New York City with Arriflex S-cameras by week three.
Is there one instance you can pinpoint that turned you on to production?
My first job was as sound mixer for an indie feature called Dog Years
. It was rough-hewn, shot almost entirely on weekends and was in production for more than 18 months. Whether we were clearing out rattlesnakes from location or crashing a junked car for sound effects, it was a great experience and done with a lot of heart. I kind of fell in love with the process.
What piece of equipment do you rarely/never go on a job without?
Our crews constantly find themselves in tight locations with dodgy power and little time to set up a scene. A string of carnival lights—the kind with Edison screw-base sockets along a length of zip cord—can save the day.
What is it that draws you to the type of production ZPZ specializes in?
I've always worked in independent and documentary production. The "ZPZ style" is always informed by doing the most with the least. Our crews are small, our gear is lightweight and portable, and we rarely go into the field with a sound person. I think it creates a sort of intimacy that you can't reproduce by adding more stuff. Also, Tony Bourdain is a badass.
What do you view as emerging trends in the industry today?
While everyone is chasing big sensors and the cinematic look, there's still a place for a medium-sized format that is lightweight and shoulder-friendly. Besides, there's so much beautiful Super16 glass available and it's currently underutilized.
What are the most significant changes in filming from when you started?
It's quite possible to create a stunning image with equipment that costs less than $10K. What used to be the bastion of only Hollywood can be had by virtually anyone with the hankering and peck to do it. There are more voices in the conversation and I think this drives everyone to work harder and create more beautiful images.
What is something you think people would be surprised to know about you?
I went to Marine Military Academy for high school. Oo-rah!
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
Tune in to Parts Unknown
on CNN and MeatEater
on Sportsman Channel!
For more information on Fujifilm Optical Devices, go to www.Fujinon.com
, or follow us at www.Facebook.com/FujifilmOptical
Posted: 12/13/2012 10:47:03 AM
| with 376 comments
Welcome to the second half of our interview with Aerial Director of Photography at Aerial Filmworks, Ron Chapple!
5. Do you have a favorite "go-to" camera and/or lens?
We have both the Fujinon 42x 9.7mm and 13x 4.5mm lens kits for our Cineflex systems. (We own 3 of the 42x lenses, and one 13x lens.) While most of our clients request the longer lens for the amazing range, I personally like the wide lens. With the wide, I can get images that feel as if they are wrapping around the helicopter. In December, I filmed in the narrow canyons of Big Bend National Park where we had less than 200 feet between 1,000 foot canyon walls. The Fujinon 13x wide was perfect!
6. You film a lot of wildlife. For example, the PBS/Nature film, "Bears of the Final Frontier" must have been a challenge. What is that like?
Our first premise is that wildlife must be filmed without any awareness of the helicopter. Having the right long lens is critical to getting the shot. If any animal is startled or intimidated by the helicopter, we immediately cease filming. The big "no no" in nature documentary work is seeing the backside of the animal running from the camera. On the "Bears…" project, we were fortunate to have a strong wind that pushed the helicopter noise away from the animals, and by using the 42x 9.7mm lens from 1,500 feet away, we were able to get really great images of the bears interacting normally.
7. What are the most significant changes in aerial filming from when you started until now?
The newest trend we are seeing is what the industry calls "Piece to Camera" where the actor or presenter looks at the Cineflex to deliver their lines. We are circling the scene zoomed in to the actor , and then pull out to full wide to reveal the whole scene. The new PBS series "America Revealed" has many of these scenes. We have filmed the host skydiving from 10,000 feet, riding along in open cockpit airplanes, standing on top of huge industrial cranes, and flying in ultralights. Last week in Costa Rica, I filmed two actors in a helicopter flying low through the rainforest!
8. Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Yes! Lenses and cameras are critical hardware for any creative business. The part of this business that always is most impressive is the teamwork! Everyone in the entire process is important, from the people that make the lenses, build and design the Cineflex, to the creative director, helicopter pilot and logistics crew. We all have our unique role in bringing great images to the viewer.
Posted: 5/23/2012 11:10:12 AM
| with 1903 comments
1. Is there one instance you can pinpoint that turned you on to photography and cinematography?
In high school, I was always the kid that could not quite figure out the whole social scene. When I discovered photography, my whole world opened up to new ways of communicating. I could now create an image and get really interesting responses from people.
2. What do you view as emerging trends in cinematography today?
For me, creative trends are far more interesting than technology trends. In our business, we are seeing the need to have aerials, or establishing shots, in all productions from full scale nature documentary to reality shows to indie films. Aerials are unique in their power to set a place and mood for the film.
Planet Earth established the Cineflex V14HD as the "must have" camera for any nature documentary. Now, almost every "Made for TV" program needs aerials.
3. What were your FIRST and BEST experiences using the revolutionary Cineflex HD technology?
Everyday! I absolutely love exploring new landscapes and communicating the beauty of the planet with the Cineflex and Fujinon lenses. My personal favorites are The Andes mountains, glaciers, Grand Canyon, and filming volcanoes. Lately, we have been working in Latin America where the landscape is just now being explored with the Cineflex camera systems.
4. You started working mainly in fashion, annual report photography and advertising. How did you transition from that to the range of everything you do now?
I think anyone starts business with the opportunity at hand. I was based in Charlotte, NC when I started business 30 years ago. At that time, the only work was from textile mills and banks. My only business strategy was to differentiate my studio by specializing in location work rather than studio. From my start in commercial work, I then produced images for license as stock for many years before moving to aerial HD video. As a caveat, I have been shooting aerials for many years, so moving into aerial film was an easy transition. Creating aerial video is really just creating many, many still images in sequence. Every image composition must be perfect, and transition into the next image.
Stay tuned in to our blog for part two!
For more information on Aerial Filmworks visit http://www.aerialfilmwork.com/.
For more information on Fujifilm Optical Devices, go to www.Fujinon.com, or follow us at www.Facebook.com/FujifilmOptical and www.Twitter.com/FujifilmOptical.
Posted: 5/9/2012 10:06:37 AM
| with 1704 comments
Welcome to the second half of our interview with Director of Photography for the National Geographic special, Oceanus, David Linstrom!
Q: You not only used the Fujinon HA13X4.5 lens during the filming of Oceanus, but you've said that, in using the HA13X4.5 it over the past 6 or so years, it's become your favorite lens. Why do you think it works so well for your style of documentary shooting?
A. The Fujinon HA13X4.5 is a beautiful lens. It allows me to get up close and personal. When shooting handheld, it allows me to move with the camera more fluidly. It makes my work look better by taking out a lot of the shake. And it's pin sharp.
Q. You said in a recent article (http://www.btlnews.com/crafts/camera/spintec-keeps-lens-clean-for-david-linstrom's-columbia-river-voyage/) that you were able to protect the Fujinon HA13X4.5 lens while in difficult waters during the shooting of Oceanus with the Spintec rain deflector from Innovision Optics. How much footage did this save from the cutting room floor, and are there any particular scenes we should watch out for that might have otherwise not been included?
A. The Spintec was used with a Tyler helicopter nose mount. It keeps rain and bugs off of the lens. Helicopter shots are expensive and since it was raining on and off the entire week we were there, it was the perfect tool for this shoot.
Q. Aside from adverse weather, is there another major challenge you often face during shooting, and if so, how do you combat it?
A. When shooting for National Geographic (and all non-fiction for that matter) I usually find myself in adverse conditions. Long flights, long car rides, hot and buggy or freezing locations, marginal food. That said, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I've been to some of the most fascinating places on earth. The trick is to stay healthy and travel safe. I learned early on how important it is to re-charge at the end of the day. And to keep in mind that I'll probably never be back to this location, so get the most out of it in the short time I'm there.
Q. What was most unique about the production of this documentary?
A. The Columbia Bar Pilots have a very dangerous and unique job. It is their responsibility to navigate large tankers and container ships over one of the most treacherous waters, where the Columbia River empties into the Pacific Ocean. If the Bar closes, the river traffic backs up and million of dollars are at stake. It's their job to keep the commerce moving. And they risk their lives every day just to get to work. They either have to climb up a rope ladder that extends down form a moving super tanker or be lowered via cable onto a moving ship. Then they have to steer a gigantic vessel over a sand bar in waves up to 40 ft that clears the bottom by as little as 5 ft. These men and women are some of the most easy going yet confident people I've ever met. Simply amazing.
Oceanus will air on the National Geographic Channel next year.
Posted: 1/9/2012 4:50:57 PM
| with 1990 comments
When David Linstrom agreed to be Director of Photography for the National Geographic
, with oceanographer Bob Ballard of The Titanic discovery fame, he knew he would be shooting in a tricky environment. As he packed up his camera supplies, he made sure not to forget his favorite lens—the Fujinon
HA13X4.5. We were recently lucky enough to ask Mr. Linstrom a few questions. Read on to learn more about his early days, how he combats challenging shooting conditions, the future of cinematography and more.
You shot the upcoming Oceanus
special for National Geographic
with Bob Ballard, otherwise known as the oceanographer that discovered the Titanic, among other famous ships. What were you most looking forward to about the experience?
Working with someone as renowned as Bob Ballard was a great experience. His wealth of knowledge about our oceans is amazing, his list of accomplishments is legendary and he's a very nice guy. He's interested in other people and what they do day to day and he's not afraid to go out on a limb. I shot him putting on a harness and stepping out of a helicopter to be lowered 100 feet onto a moving cargo ship.
Is there one instance you can pinpoint that turned you on to cinematography?
I started as a still photographer. I was always fascinated with photos of people and places from around the world. I grew up fascinated with Life
magazine and National Geographic
. Then I took a cinematography class in college and quickly forgot about shooting stills. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the still image. It's just that the moving image appealed to me so much more. I have a deep love for non-fiction and the wealth of stories from around the globe. There's something about moving images, sound, editing and narration that when combined, make for an amazing experience.
What do you view as emerging trends in cinematography today?
The most obvious trend is digital. Film cameras, which didn't change much for over one hundred years, are quickly becoming obsolete. Arri is no longer making them, neither is Panavision. Professionals are using consumer digital cameras to make fascinating images. It just keeps getting better. The cameras get smaller, sometimes to a fault. As an operator, I like a heavier camera. I like the mass, the ergonomics of it. Up to a point. I certainly don't long for the days of a 40-pound camera on my shoulder or of all the cases I use to schlep around the world.
What are the most significant changes in filming from when you started until now?
I started shooting on 16mm film. That went away a few years ago and I don't see it coming back.
Stay tuned in to our blog for part two!
Posted: 11/30/2011 4:41:18 PM
| with 719 comments