Operation Peru: Mission Accomplished

Back in the states!

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Destination: Peru

I’m about to embark on a rather interesting journey.  A 1,000 mile endurance race in lawnmower powered bicycle.  On this race/trek/suicide mission, I will be filming for our team and as part of a personal project about extreme adventure travel.

For more on the race and our team, I implore you to check out our team website (www.teamsbs.com), which I just finished up.  It’s real flash intensive, so if you have a slow computer, sorry … upgrade.  I designed it to be interactive and high impact!  It’s also intentionally cheesy and overly patriotic.  We wanted to really play off the American stereotype of over-the-top, loud and strong.  Toby Keith would be proud.  I’ll talk about the creation of that when I get back from this trip.

Onto the good stuff!

I’ve laid out the goods on my living room floor to make sure I have everything I want.  I need to pack a ton of gear into a single Pelican case and assume that everything will get broken at some point.  Everything about this project (like everything else I work on) is 100% custom and all new tools need to be fabricated to get the job done.  I also use a lot of duct tape.

First, the challenge.  I want to capture the major story of the race but focus on the mini-stories that happen along the way and how they effect the everyday psychology of the racers.  Since we have no support/backup vehicle, everything will have to be done on-the-fly and story lines will have to be recognized and anticipated – which we all know is quite impossible in this situation, where one minute you’re being attacked by local mobs with torches and the next you’re bartering three goats, a single shoe and a unwed virgin for a spare tire.

So, with all this in mind – this is the package I created.

Canon XL2 – I chose this camera for several reasons.  1) They are cheap; usually 2,000 dollars.  If it breaks, it’s not the end of the world. 2) quality is great for a SD camera, the lines of resolution are fantastic, the color space is great and it has lots of manual functionality. 3) XLR microphone, so on board sound is much better.  4) It’s got the professional look, which will get us out of a lot of tight places and into secure areas if need be.

Sony HC3 – This is a smaller consumer HD camera that has been used in several tight shots for broadcast quality footage.  Not the best, but not the worst.  It’s light weight, small and has a hot-shoe for things like external microphones, lights, etc.  I’m also using a century optics .7 wide-angle adapter.  This will make a good run and gun cam as well as a good driving cam.

Canon 7D – I chose this for it’s dual functionality.  The 5D MkII was a close second choice but ultimately decided against based on the 7D’s superior video functionality.  Even though it’s a cropped frame sensor, the 7D produces stunning results when paired with the right lenses.  It’s main purpose will be used as a still camera but it will serve as a video camera for the dramatic/cinematic shots.  Things like HDR time lapses, transitions, emotional shots, etc…

GoPro Hero 1080 – This was picked up for those super tough shots.  The video produced by the gopro is pretty good considering it’s size.  This is the camera we will be using for POV shots, roll over shots, extreme shots, pole cam shots, aerial (balloon) shots, etc.  Basically anything that has a high risk of failing horribly and breaking, this will be used.  I also picked up the battery extension and the LCD screen attachment for framing shots and reviewing footage on the fly.

LED Lite Panel – with built in color temperature control and a great dimmer.  This will be used as our main light source when needed.

Bogen carbon fiber tripod – Super light weight and sturdy, it will be able to handle everything we put on it.  A usable height of 3″ off the ground to 7.5′ tall.  I realize that aluminum is way cheaper, but when you’re traveling, 2-3 pounds is a lot of weight to cut out.

Netbook – I picked up a HP Netbook and built a nice little external HD that can slip into the same case.  This will be used to transfer all the data from the cameras while in the middle of nowhere.

Mounts – Bogen Magic arm, super clamp, all go-pro mounts and accessories, lots of tape.

Lenses – I chose a 50mm 1.8 Prime, Sigma 10-20mm 3.5, 70-200mm 2.8 L, and a 28-135.  I should be able to cover all focal ranges with that.

This all needs to fit into a small, single Pelican case.  It’s like jenga meets tetris.  Then I have to manage to get it to Peru.  Which might not sound like a terribly hard thing to do, but when you’re on the ‘TSA watch list’ for flying one way out of country too many times, the authorities get paranoid.

I will be trying to update our racing status daily via our website/twitter/etc.  I know Jeff will be doing the same; between us, we should have pretty regular updates.

Team website - http://www.teamsbs.com


Outie 5000.


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