ACS Tasmania Branch - BUMPER CHRISTMAS EDITION 2017!!!!

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In this Issue.........

  • PRESIDENTS MESSAGE - Peter Curtis ACS
  • POSTCARD FROM THE WHITEHOUSE - Craig Pennington
  • MY OCEAN HOME - Talon Clemow
  • START YOUR SEARCH - Joshua Lamont
  • VANQUISHED! - Pawel Achtel ACS

MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT

Well the Christmas decorations are up and we are in the midst of the ‘silly season’ as the end of another year approaches.

It’s been a pretty decent one for the ACS Tasmanian Branch with some good local events run throughout the year, another Tasmanian ACS member gaining accreditation and nine awards going to Tassie members at the recent Vic/Tas ACS Awards for Cinematography.

This end of year newsletter features articles from several of members who picked up Awards. While some are very familiar names to us, like Pawel Achtel ACS and Josh Lamont, others, like Craig Pennington and Talon Clemow, are only relatively newcomers to our branch and it’s great to see them picking up Awards too.

As you will read they are all doing some pretty amazing work.

I encourage you to take the time to click on the links to their Award-winning work and check it out for yourselves.

The recent Panasonic and Lemac EVA-1 Event at Wide Angle Tasmania

Before we get stuck in I’d just like to thank all ACS members who’ve presented or helped to run ACS Tasmania events through the year. There have been some really worthwhile things to head along to, like the recent day-long Panasonic/Lemac Event at Wide Angle Tasmania.

I look forward to seeing you at similar events in 2018!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a happy and restful festive season. Enjoy whatever summer break you can get.

Peter Curtis ACS.

CRAIG PENNINGTON - Postcard from Washington DC

Craig at the Whitehouse

I'm a relatively new member of the Tassie branch of the ACS. I'm currently the senior camera operator for Aljazeera's Investigative Unit based in Washington D.C. I moved here in May 2014 after an 8-year stint in London where I freelanced and later joined Aljazeera as a staff member.

It all started for me at WIN TV in Launceston. I was offered a full time job just before I completed year 12 at Launceston College. I finished my studies and started work with WIN before Christmas 1997.

The Launceston WIN TV Team (circa 1998) - Craig far right.

I had a great time and it was the perfect place to begin my career. I obviously had much to learn but I had a lot of help from all the guys above me. A big shout out to Marty, G’man, Glove-man, Jarvo and Dunny! All were willing to put in the time to give me the direction, and sometimes, the clip around an ear, that I needed. I spent 6 years at WIN before moving to Mackay.

Mackay is a beautiful place. Where the rainforest meets the ocean. While working for Channel Seven's local news a friend and fellow camera operator (big shout out to Tony) that I was working with, moved to London and was doing well. About 6 months later my then girlfriend and I started to get the itch for something more. So, in January 2006 we also moved to London. We flew into a London winter straight from a North Queensland summer. That was a bit of a shock. Not even Tassie winters prepared me for a London winter.

It took me a little while to break into the TV industry in London, however by about 4 months in I was getting regular work as a freelancer. I had various clients including CNN, Channel 9, BBC, ITN, and Aljazeera. By about July Aljazeera English was my biggest client by far. The channel officially launched in November and things took off for me. For the next two years I was working between 25 and 30 days a month. I traveled to 20 different countries all over Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

Filming the aftermath of the Israeli bombardment of Gaza

I joined Aljazeera as a staffer in 2011, which is when my, now wife, and I brought a flat in in West London and we settled down, expecting to be there for many years to come. But in 2014 and I got an offer I couldn’t refuse. We’d both made lifelong friends and really enjoyed our time in London, but, when an opportunity came up to move to the US and join Aljazeera’s Investigative Unit, we couldn’t pass it up.

Making the transition from news to documentaries was a difficult one. For the first time in a long time I felt like I was out of my comfort zone. I had a lot to learn again. I was very fortunate to have joined a really great team here in D.C. who helped me a lot (big shout out to Colin, Nic and Marc). We've produced a couple of fantastic docs that have involved us traveling across a lot of the US, Canada, and also three months in South Africa.

Craig working in Africa

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been involved in a couple of films, which have been created a bit if a stir. The Dark Side, is about performance enhancing drugs in US sports. It aired the week between the NFL (American Football) regular season ending, and the playoffs beginning. Traditionally, that week is a pretty quiet time for sports news, however, The Dark Side dominated the U.S. media for more than a week in January 2016. Huffington Post called it ‘the biggest sports story of the year’. The New York Times reported that USADA, in an ongoing investigation, is pursuing “many leads” from the documentary.

White House Rose Garden with Pres Obama and the Super Bowl winning Denver Broncos

The Poachers Pipeline, exposes the people and powers behind the illegal trade of one of the world's most valuable substances - rhino horn. In South Africa's Kruger National Park, poachers kill two or three rhino every night. They hack off the horns, sometimes while the animal is still alive, and within hours the illicit goods are in the hands of a trafficker. The rhino horn trade is made possible by corruption at every step of the chain and by an insatiable demand that goes to the very top of South African and Chinese society.

On safari during filming for The Poachers Pipeline

During production of both of these films, the construction and placement of the undercover cameras was really important to me. While the quality of these cameras is still not great, I wanted our UC footage to look the best it could be. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen UC footage that is almost unwatchable. Wobbly, out of focus or, framed up on someone’s feet. So, we decided install a few cameras into our own devices. We glued, screwed and sewed miniscule cameras into a vast range of unlikely objects to give us the best possible chance of capturing footage without being detected. One of our biggest advantages was that we were able to convince targets to meet us in locations where we could setup and control the environment. This allowed cameras to be mounted and stay static throughout a meeting which resulted in the footage being much clearer.

Craig amid anti-Trump protesters at his inauguration.

Washington, D.C. is a great city and I can see my wife and I being here for a while.
If anyone is ever in town, let me know, it’d be great to catch up.

Link to Craig's Documentary The Poachers Pipeline »
Link to Craig's Documentary The Dark Side »

TALON CLEMOW - My Ocean Home

Editors Note:
Talon Clemow moved to Tasmania in November 2015 to live & work more closely with the cast of the big wave surfing documentary he's making. This came after many years living and working overseas. From around 1999 to 2005 Talon freelanced in London and worked throughout Europe for various media organizations such as the BBC, CNBC and IMG. In recent years he has built a reputation for high-end surf and underwater cinematography. He worked for Billabong for three years before setting up his own company, One Palm Media in 2008. Talon has worked all over the world but now calls Tasmania home. At the recent Vic/Tas ACS Awards Talon won the Gold Award in the Entertainment and TV Magazine category for ‘My Ocean Home’. Here Talon outlines shooting and editing that project and another much closer to home!

Talon at work in the Maldives.

Hawaiian people have a natural affinity with the ocean I find and the talent in 'My Ocean Home' was an Hawaiian girl named Alana Spencer, that embodies that spirit.

Alana surfs, dives and generally has spent her formative years connected to ocean going pursuits and that resonates in her sense of being as a human. We were actually on location in The Maldives for a Corona campaign and we'd shot a bunch of material before the weather closed in on us for a few days. Cabin fever set in pretty early and there is only so much of doing nothing that I can handle, so the idea came to me to create the video as an interpretation of my understanding of her character and cultural reflection in the world.

Scripting it seemed to flow pretty easily and I knew we were strong on the visuals that we had already captured so I recorded voice on my iPhone and got to work on an edit to kill the boredom of a rained out tropical venture. I'd previously done something similar with another friend / model Danielle Collis in a clip called 'Eternal' that is on my One Palm Media website.

From my perspective I love shooting intimate moments in the water as it's a little harder to achieve those kind of shots in close proximity to someone. You really have to have some kind of relationship to get great imagery in the ocean and your shots will generally reflect that. If someone isn't comfortable with you in their space, imagery will reflect that. I'm a bit of a fish myself, having grown up as a competitive swimmer and surfer. It's like combining all the things I love into one pursuit with water cinematography and sometimes I have to pinch myself that people actually want to pay me money to do this.

Click here to view My Ocean Home »

The Tasmanian

To separate yourself from the pack, you've got to be prepared to pursue things that others aren't prepared to do or have a vision that is unique. Filming in the water down at Shipstern Bluff during the depths of Tasmanian winter was a challenge that I'd set for myself to capture content for a documentary that I'm working on with the big wave surfers of Tasmania.

Marti Paradisis is one of the cast that I'm working with that features in 'The Tasmanian' and it's an escapade into his world as a surfer in Tasmania, chasing waves around the East Coast & Shipstern Bluff. It's cold in the water, approx. 9deg and with a brisk offshore breeze that feels more like 3deg sometimes and I don't like to let my mind wander as to what might be swimming out there in the Great Southern Ocean depths as that scares the sh*t out of me when my mind goes down that route.

Attempting to get as close as possible to one of Australia's most dangerous waves has been my pursuit for a while now, to capture a surfer inside the barrel on my Red Dragon camera in slow motion to share with audiences all around the world. There had been some water shots come out of Shipstern Bluff previously, but nothing of cinematic quality and nothing that was up close and personal to the surfer.

It's as much a mental game as it is a physical challenge swimming out there. I still don't feel as though I'm happy with any of the shots I've gotten so far but it's only been 2 years. Carrying approx. 12kgs of camera gear in a water housing and wearing thick rubber to attempt to stay warm are all part of that challenge for me and it's a game of inches in the end.

Understanding the ocean, it's moods and where to be and where not to be are the difference between staying safe and getting into trouble out there. 'The Tasmanian' clip was something I created for a short film competition. I used footage that I knew I wouldn't need for the feature length doco and it was awarded runner up. The footage of Marti at Shippies was from my very first swim out there. Shot with a Red Dragon and Zeiss 40mm Standard Speed prime in my custom Dave Kelly water housing, the edit was graded specifically to look cold and dramatic to emphasize the harsh Tasmanian conditions.

Click here to View Talons film The Tasmanian »

JOSHUA LAMONT - Start Your Search

This time last year I was sitting down with a mate. We were discussing what we’d both been up to, favourite projects of the year, and what our goals were for next year.

I put it out there that I wanted to shoot a car commercial. I didn’t really care what brand it was for, or what the creative was - I just felt like I needed to add that category to my portfolio.

Fast forward 12 months - and while it’s not exactly a specific car commercial, it is a dealer commercial that holds exclusive brands in Tasmania and still gave me the opportunity of doing something car related. It is already leading to bigger and better things for 2018.

Josh shooting a car interior angle for part of JMC's Start your Search campaign

JMC first approached me in March. They had seen some work I’d done for Huon Aquaculture, a national campaign featuring Richie Porte, they really liked it. The marketing team at JMC were keen to have me prepare some kind of creative pitch for them. I did my best to explain that I wasn’t really in the business of pitching. There were plenty of Ad agencies around that could help them out, and I gave them some names of people I work with regularly. For some reason they were pretty insistent, and after carefully listening to them I realised I might miss out on my opportunity to shoot a car commercial. So, I said yes.

Josh working the early morning light in downtown Hobart with gaffer Ralf Williams

My friend Adam Gibson and I sat down and tried to figure a pitch out for them. We scratched an idea down over breakfast. A week later, I was having trouble with the script, nothing was working. What we were coming up with was cool, but nothing was singing out to us. After a few chats with Adam, I just mind dumped a loose script - that’s when ‘Inner Voice’ was born, it took 5 minutes. Adam thought I hit the nail on the head with it, and so we both agreed to present it. Needless to say the client loved it, and basically gave us free reign to have it made in any way we saw fit. After the budget was approved, we both took on the daunting task of producing it. We knew we wanted to shoot late spring early summer, so we had some time up our sleeves.

Location, Location, Location. Dusk shoot with Mt. Wellington in the far distance.

Location scouting was a pretty big and important deal for me. This was a chance to really spend time in finding the right shooting environments, and I think that played an important role in the look of the project.

Chris Fox checking the camera rig.

With pre-production out of the way, we began shooting early November. Tom Waugh and Chris Fox from Ignite Digi were on board, and we wanted to shoot this in the same fluid way that we’re so used to shooting, but with some heavier lenses, and some direct mounting to vehicles.

Techy Geeky stuff below.....

Camera: Arri Alexa-Mini

Lenses: Cooke Anamorphic: T2.3: 32, 40, 50, 75, 100mm & the 65mm T2.6

Camera stabiliser: Movi Pro, with Ignite's custom tilt offset to make balancing a breeze (you can buy these from them, they make them).

Mounts: Mathews suction car mounts.

We used mostly natural bounce lighting. My gaffer had some flexible LED panels that we could gaffer to the interior roof of vehicles to light subjects. I was really happy with the results from this, although none of these shots really made it into the final spot. I’m doing a longer directors cut soon - stay tuned.

The shooting experience of this project is one that I really look back on quite fondly. Probably due to the huge amount of pressure, and the gradual relief as we progressively moved through the 3 day shoot, ticking things off and stacking gold at every location. It was also the fortunate weather, and the amazing crew & cast all coming together to create a special experience for everyone involved. We wrapped shooting on a big high - albeit exhausted.

One of the car rig set ups.

Definitely the highlight of 2017. I’m not sure what my goals are for 2018 just yet, I have a few ideas. I do know that if you’re brave enough to put your goals out there, to speak them out to someone and be accountable to them, good things happen.

To View Start your Search and see more behind the scenes images click here. »
To watch Josh's Awards winning Macq01 Stories behind the Stories click here. »

PAWEL ACHTEL - Vanquished

Editors Note:
It’s been a particularly good year for Pawel. In September he became the latest Tasmanian member to attain ACS Accreditation. Then at the end of November he won the Gold Award at the 2017 Vic/Tas ACS in the Wildlife and Nature category for a beautiful short film he shot in Tasmanian, featuring the leafy sea dragon. Now Pawel has launched the latest in his series of breakthrough underwater camera systems.

Pawel writes about it here ….

A frame from Pawel's Gold Award Winning film on the Tasmanian Leafy Sea Dragon

Click hear to view Pawel's film on the Leafy Sea Dragon »

Pawel Achtel ACS using the 3-DEEP system.

Five years ago I designed and build two somewhat revolutionary underwater camera systems: DeepX and 3Deep. The concept was very simple: instead of using image degrading underwater ports, I engineered a system that could utilize submersible (water contact) lenses.

For the past few months I have been working on the long-awaited sequel: a new system that brings many additional world-first’s improvements: Vanquish.

For the first time ever, Vanquish underwater housing, combined with the RED DSMC2 cameras, can capture underwater images at an astonishing 8K resolution – way beyond the resolutions of alternative underwater systems. And, because the system relies on Nikon’s super-sharp Nikonos submersible lenses, designed especially for underwater use, the images maintain that sharpness from one corner to the other – producing cinema-quality images of unparalleled richness and depth.

The VANQUISH camera system.

Vanquish is a significant improvement over the original DeepX. Firstly, we’ve made the new housing entirely out of tough, precision-machined titanium that resists scratching and will never corrode, with the most reliable sealing design in the world and a range of the sharpest underwater lenses available today.

“Smaller, Smarter, Sharper” is the slogan for the new Vanquish Weapon system with its on-board OLED Telemetry Data Display that can, for the first time, continuously display pressure, pressure drop, temperature, dew point, humidity, battery status and moisture level. Even though it’s made of rugged titanium, it still only weighs 4.5kg and, complete with camera lens and battery, can be held in one hand. And it’s the only cinema-grade underwater camera system that can be taken onto a plane as carry-on, so you know you’ll be ready to shoot the moment you land at your destination. The small size of the optics also means that it can take low-angle and close-up shots that no other cinema-quality unit can match.

A view of the rear module of the Vanquish system

The Vanquish adds unrivalled versatility, with four large "cheese plates" allowing for almost unlimited rigging, trim and balance, attachment of lighting and other accessories, handles, tripods, cranes, and countless other mounting options, as well as a modular design compatible with surf mounts, PoleCam, crane operation and ROV shooting. It’s even got a ceramic-like nano-coating that sheds water, promotes smooth operation, resists scratching and is even tougher than the titanium housing itself.

Pawel Achtel ACS speaking at the Vic/Tas ACS Awards .

I’m proud that the original 3Deep and DeepX systems have been used in countless commercials, features and high-end productions and landed many innovation and cinematography awards for me and other cinematographers. I have recently been awarded coveted ACS status from the Australian Cinematographers Society mostly using 3Deep and DeepX systems.
Images from the new Vanquish system will be sharp enough for the biggest screens in the world, but even on smaller screens the extra resolution and quality that every top cinematographer looks for creates a truly immersive experience in a way that’s not been possible until now.

Click here to go to Pawel's web page and learn more about Vanquish »

And Finally.............

Remember Rob Reibel's Clips article late last year about his work with a Red Bull documentary team working in Tasmania, mainly at Cape Hauy? Well its finished and available online for all to see. It's 40 mins long and documents a photographer's determination to achieve a very particular shot of a rock climber on the Totem Pole. It's pretty tense at times and has some amazing shots in amongst it. Check out the link.

Link to view Tasmanian based film Breaking the Day by Red Bull. »



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