It all started with the snowboarding feature film “The Art of Flight” by the Brain Farm crew that sparked the need to make zooming parallax shots. One motivation is that these types of shots and this level of production value are, for the most part, absent from BMX films. There are a few BMX filmmakers that have stepped up to the Brain Farm level but the style of visual storytelling the Brain Farm crew utilizes to push their stories forward and create dynamic drama is nowhere to be found. It is my vision and hopes to fulfill that void by creating the zooming parallax shots, rolling long lens and zolly shots to distinguish myself from the herd.
See examples in their trailer for the Art of Flight below:
Now, granted, I don’t have access to a Phantom Flex or even a Red that will shoot the same high frame rate shots seen in the trailer but that doesn’t mean I can’t accomplish visually engaging sequences of shots without those tools.
THIS IS THE START OF A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS CHRONICLING MY JOURNEY TO ACCOMPLISHING THE ZOOMING PARALLAX SHOT.
The beginning of this story starts at a Canon 5DmkII. A camera that I’ve used for a very, very long time and have shot, edited and published near 100 titles with. After starting my family and reaching ‘cruising altitude’ it was time to start stacking my chips on myself and making strategic investments in this vision.
My old kit included a 5DmkII, Canon 15mm fisheye f/2.8 and a number of other L series glass, Bogen 501 tripod and a Glidecam 3000 and a skateboard. This kit has served me well to produce a ton of visuals I’m really proud of and all in I feel I’ve achieved mastery of this kit utilizing this camera body and lenses on a myriad of shoots, weather conditions, and program types. From corporate short form b-roll to motion controlled time-lapse shots this set up has done a ton of work over the years.
My first order of business was to sell anything that wasn’t being used. That investment capital was put towards a DJI Ronin M to start. Once I’d done a few test shots with it on my 5DmkII and a C100 I was ready to start piecing together the rest of the vision – a DIY version of a Shotover car rig.
The plan was simple. Make a car rig that will enable shots from a car that result in a parallax visual effect while zooming in on the subject. After countless hours spent trying to figure out how to buy a Shotover rig, the end result was that I was going to have to build it myself. Originally I was going to buy a Ronin M and a Tilta Nucleus M so I wouldn’t have to battle with new camera sensors coming out every year. This proved to be challenging because of the total weight that can fly on the Ronin M and the Nucleus M remote control gear drivers costing more weight than I was willing to spend. I eventually succumbed to the realization I was either going to have to continue borrowing someone’s A7SII or continue using my 5DmkII. Both of which present their own challenges to planning a shoot. So, the plan became this. A tripod in a car with an upside down Ronin M with a 4K camera mounted on it. The Ronin would do the stabilization and pan/tilt work while the 4K sensor would do a digital zoom in post. Not ideal, but a starting place.
THE FIRST BUILD OF THE RIG
The first step was to get the tripod plate for the Ronin M.
Once that arrived I did some test builds with the C100 and the 5DmkII. Testing, then more testing and then further testing.
tests with the C100 to see what the Canon 24-105 f/4 could produce when strapped into the passenger seat. Here are some examples: