Formulaic Documentaries

I understand that programmes need to follow a formula, the sheer volume and speed of turnover dictate that.

However, when I shot 20/20 for ABC the formula had some sense and tried to tell a story.
The journalist would do an interview, the producer and I would be making notes as we shot about what we had to shoot to illustrate the interview. We would also think about what we needed to help the overall story.

Now, especially at the BBC you pick a presenter or “expert”, and that expert had better be female and easy on the eye, you then film them walking through streets, buildings, on trams and so on, all with a VO from the star.

You the shoot a few interviews that feature the star more than the interviewee, cut back to more VO walking.

Totally predictable, really boring, if I watch a docco on skin ageing then I’m interested in learning something about skin ageing and not a continuos sequence of shots of someone walking around…

More and more unskilled, bland, safe, boring TV

3D in the arctic

I’ve had an interesting week in Hemevan trying to shoot 3D in various Arctic conditions, varying between glorious sunshine, at minus 30 C, to snow storm.

We were testing a number of cameras, F3’s in a Hurricane rig with Alister Chapman it’s designer along to operate and generally advise, Sony TD300, Sony NXCam 3D-1 and a pair of GoPros in 3D mode.

The biggest problem was the tiny size of the controls on the cameras which made it incredibly difficult to operate them.

Not only are they too small to make contact with if you’re wearing gloves the concentric dial on the TD300 that controls zoom, focus and convergence freezes so that they all turn together! Brilliant.

I’m not going to go on and on about the design but the guys who design these really should get out of their nice safe offices and try using them as real users do. I think they’d end up hating themselves almost as much as we hate them.

Having said tha the results from the NXCam really surprised me and I’d love to find a way to record it externally to avoid the heavy compression that is used internally.