equipment

JaPOV!

Quick little video for Epic TV. Antti Autti slashing some Japan awesomeness, endless powder of Niigata. Shot almost entirely on Sony Actioncams. POV and followcam combined, mixed with few wider shots of the lines, kickers and powder turns.

We wanted to give the viewer real feeling of riding pow in Japan. I decided to use mainly POV cams and cut some of the normal stuff in the edit as well but only short glimpses, just to show the surroundings. After using Sony Actioncams for a while now I can say it is a joy to use! It outperforms Gopros in many ways, maybe not in absolute image quality but using it is much more enjoyable than dealing with Gopros.

Few pros over the Gopro: It has built in thread for mounting. I HATE those plastic shitty things that Gopro uses. And yes, they come in aluminum flavors as well but I hate the whole concept of multiple joints, screws, threads and extra little pieces like 1/4 mount that get lost, I already lost two. The one in Actioncam is built in the plastic casing. Actioncam comes with wrist-display thingy to see what you are shooting, also an App available. You can mount it on the side of the head easily, instead on the top or forehead, it doesn´t look so stupid that way. It has button lock feature so that you can manually lock all button presses, no more accidental recordings of the insides of your camera bag!!! And the biggest thing, battery lasts for a long time! Gopro may have an edge with higher quality images but difference is not that big and all the other benefits makes Actioncam much more appealing and more user friendly. I am yet to try it with faster cards that will upgrade to XAVC S-filetype and better quality. I get those for our next trip and see if it really makes better files as it should obviously.

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Remote and Actioncam HDR-AS100V attached to a Manfrotto 492 Ballhead & 386B Nano Clamp. No extras needed! On the right is view of the Hold-switch that should be in every action camera! That switch and ability to attach straight to universal 1/4 screws makes this thing more Pro than Gopro.

Testing Sony A7S

I have been testing and using new camera for couple of months now. I decided to get Sony A7S after seeing so much hype about its video capabilities. For video it looks amazing, quality is incredible and it is a joy to use with zebras, peaking and excellent manual focus aids. It seems to be pretty nice for photos also!

Here are some shots from various occasions since november. All photos taken with Zeiss 35mm FE 2,8 lens. Zeiss is packed with wonderful optics, quick AF and it teams up nicely with A7S. Lens hood is all plastic and not that durable, I managed to break mine after one month. I have been happy without it ever since.

All photos quickly edited with Aperture 3/DXO Filmpack 3

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Moonscape, Rovaniemi.

Trees in Vennivaara, Rovaniemi.

Trees in Vennivaara, Rovaniemi.

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I am half Labrador and half Rottweiler and I like the snow. Shot @ ISO 25600

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Car troubles and flare testing.

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Reindeer round up in Savukoski. I wish you could see the details.

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Kalle Ohlson dropping for seriously steep roof slide.

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Ohlsson, Nosepress, Rovaniemi Shot @ ISO 10000 no flashes.

Teaser #2

We have released second teaser for our Approach&Attack project with Antti Autti. It contains footage from two seasons we have been shooting so far and soon its time to start editing the actual movie.

I have been playing around some music, trying to figure out the mood and organizing things. Creative thinking requires some time to get ideas, rushing to the work is not my way of doing things. We did not have strict script so making everything work together surely will take some time.

Organizing and converting footage is necessary in my workflow. I was going to use different editing program but in the end I chose the old and familiar Final Cut Pro mainly because it works seamlessly with Apple´s Color, Motion and Soundtrack Pro, all the tools I need. For FCP it´s better if all the footage is in one format so converting is necessary. This process takes some time, and storage space! Currently I have 5,5 Tb´s of footage (much more than in the previous post!), same amount of backups, other stuff like photos and older videos on 15 different drives and one Drobo, and my desk is starting to get cluttered. All in all there is roughly 35 TB of stuff lying around on those drives. Buying new hard drives makes me angry and the next thing after this project is to start looking for a better solution to file and backup all the videos and photos. There´s nothing wrong with external hard drives except you get new power supply for each and every one, and plugging 15 of them at once is just not convenient.

Hard drives clogging my desk

Hard drives clogging my desk, not much room left unless I start stacking them up like skyscrapers

Things under the table get tangled as well. On the left is Belkin remote adapter/surge protector that is cutting power all the time with no apparent reason. Crappiest piece of equipment I have bought in a while. Avoid all things Belkin.

Things under the table get tangled as well. On the left is Belkin remote adapter/surge protector that is cutting power all the time with no apparent reason. Crappiest piece of equipment I have bought in a while. I got some other bad experiences from this company as well so my recommendation is to avoid all things Belkin. I need to replace it asap.

Shooting “In The Trees”

Latest video from our Approach&Attack project focuses on, as the name implies, riding in the trees. This type of snowboarding usually means a lot of snow and since you are riding amidst the trees the visibility and contrast are better than higher altitudes and alpine terrain. We shot many days while it was snowing and actually I like it very much. Snowboarding in deep powder is possibly best thing there is and it looks really nice too, many times you can really see and feel the joy of riding in snowy forests.

In Japan there was too much of snow at times so positioning cameras and keeping them running was harder than usual. Getting from place to place takes time and splitboard or snowshoes are a must! Snow causes all kinds of problems with electronics and optics, it keeps on melting on the warm surfaces and handling with warm hands is melting snow even more. Moisture and condensation might turn out to be a big problem, especially if the sun comes out and starts to warm the lens optics causing condensation to form inside lenses.

Cameras after slash seen on video 2`42

Bag and camera after slash seen on video 2`42, never leave you bag open!

Best piece of extra equipment in these kind of conditions is towel. Not just lens wipe but actual hand towel, and many lens wipes, tissue and whatever you can imagine to keep your stuff clean and dry. Plastic bags are great for the worst snowstorms. I´m not a big fan of rain covers that are made for cameras, they are usually too tight and get in the way of basic handling, just an average sized clear plastic bag does the job if needed.

Zip lock bag with an opening for lens teared on its corner covering my B angle cam in Canada

Zip lock bag with an opening for lens teared on its corner covering my B angle cam in Canada

Choosing cameras with proper weather sealing is essential. I am not overprotective when it comes to gear. They are just tools and most of the time goes for planning, thinking and actual shooting, not covering cameras and keeping them sparkling clean all the time. Wipe it with towel and clean lens with cloth as needed. Covering yourself is also important if not even more important than covering your gear. You don´t want to quit your day in short just because you got soaked. Investing in good clothing with Gore-tex fabrics pays back for sure!

Playing the waiting game. Photo: Ed Blomfield from Whitelines

Playing the waiting game inside a huge glide crack. Photo: Ed Blomfield from Whitelines

Time to get it all dry! On the Onsen floor with electronic heater of course!

Time to get it all dry. On the Onsen floor with electronic heater of course! Bag and half of the stuff belongs to monsieur Matt Georges

We are starting the new season in few days. First off to snowy paradise called Japan, more on that later!

Super lightweight video crane

I got an idea one day of combining my tripod, videohead and monopod to make up a simple video crane. I can not hike around lugging crane in my backbag so I have never felt need for one. I have found ways to overcome or just decided to get different types of shots. Some overhead shots, raises and long sideways movements are just not possible without it so this got me thinking of making one from the stuff I always carry around.

After getting initial idea of such thing I was trying to figure out how to attach monopod to videohead and remembered that I bought Manfrotto Nano Clamp last year, and it just lies in my backbag for occasional use when clamping cameras onto trees or something. Super small, yet sturdy clamp was like made for this. Attaching triangular shaped Manfrotto 390 monopod to it was easy.

This whole setup is made from things that I always carry in my backpack while filming so there is no extra weight to get it to work. No need for building, no need for any tricks, just combine the different camera supports and you get working crane in couple of minutes. It works best for overhead types of things or when you have to move your camera hanging outside from a ledge or cliff example. Much easier than trying to hold your camera on a monopod by your hands only.

The setup has some flaws, first of all it is not truly a crane or jib since the camera is fixed in position with regular ballhead, there are no joints for camera to swivel, pan or anything. It is not steady on small or flimsy tripods, I used Gitzo Systematic series 4 tripod and with that using crane was easy, I doubt my Gitzo traveler can hold it. Clamp attachment to Manfrotto videohead is done by just screwing it into quick release plate, this can move if you are not holding the monopod while turning. I think I can figure out a better solution to some of its flaws but right now I am happily using this little trick to combine different elements into a whole new thing that allows me to shoot different types of shots.

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Crane in use, this time from up to downwards movement. Better to use both hands, one on the handle and other on the monopod.

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Attachment to plate and head. This is weak spot but it can handle DSLR with fixed lens no problem.

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Head on my monopod is Manfrotto 492, really sturdy and small ballhead easily enough for Nikon D800 and 16mm Zenitar Fisheye.

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Combine these things and you get fully working crane!

Tripod problems

I need small and sturdy tripod for shooting video in the backcountry. Traditional video tripods are way too big to attach to your backpack while snowboarding. Maybe three years ago I found really small and lightweight Gitzo 1158, attached FLM leveling base and Manfrotto 701 video head to it. Whole thing weighs around 2,5kg and is less than 70cm long, just the perfect size for my needs. Gitzos built quality is amazing, probably the best you can get but after few years of heavy use even the best ones give up. Last year one of the legs started sliding off after first extension tube cracked inside. I tried to get spare parts from Gitzo but the model was outdated and the parts were nowhere to be found.I got used to it after awhile and tend to leave it little shorter than other legs and it works just fine. Then little later another leg started to wobble and loosen up from its joint. I repaired it with obvious choice, the gaffers tape and it worked fine for over 6 months. When I got home from the last trip I removed the tape that was left and this loose leg dropped off from its socket. I got lucky when this happened at home and not up in the mountains! I had to get some epoxy to glue it back in and glued another leg that was loose as well. Now it seems to be fine and I´m hoping it will last for another 3 years. 

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