I recently returned from a 30 day shoot in Japan for the U.S. Soccer Federation. I have worked as a freelancer for them for a few years now and it has been a great opportunity to travel and shoot in places all over the world. I shoot training session/games and interviews with players/coaches and any excursions the team may go on during off days. On this trip I shot at the Hiroshima Memorial, the U.S Ambassador’s residence and the Tsunami disaster zone in Sendai. These were pretty eye opening experiences and it was great to be able to capture the teams reaction as they visited each site. It’s interesting to go back to the world of ENG style shooting when I’m with the U.S Soccer Federation as so much of what I normally shoot and work on in LA is with cinema camera systems. I shoot on the Panasonic HPX250, which is cool because I can see how far Panasonic has come with this line as the very first HD camera I used back in 2004 was the HVX200. They have way more inputs/outputs now, including HDMI and firewire 400 which I use for live capture. It also has a waveform monitor built in and it’s a lot easier/quicker to shoot variable frame rates. The HPX250 also shoots in AVCINTRA which is a relatively new codec for Panasonic and it’s been fun figuring out that post workflow.
The other thing that’s interesting about returning to the world of ENG style shooting is having to deal with harsh lighting conditions with no grip/electric equipment to shape/control light. It’s always important to chose the best location to place your subject based on the direction of the sun, but it makes it even more important when you have no way to control it or add any additional sources. I found that the best thing to do for shooting interviews in harsh sunlight during mid day is to place the subject so that the sun is at their back, creating a hard edge on their shoulders and hair. This way the sun is not creating harsh shadows under the eyes and the subject is not squinting into the sun during the course of the interview. It’s tough to control highlights with these cameras but I found that if you have to, you can let the back edge light blow out a bit in order to get proper exposure on the face and then with a little color correction you can bring the highlights down and push the mids up a bit. This actually softens or “smooths” out the image and I found that it looks good when shooting women. It definitely takes away some contrast when you do this, but if you bring the blacks down a bit after it helps add more. Another challenge was that because in Japan the frequency of electric current is 50 hertz as opposed to 60 hertz like in the U.S, I could not shoot at a 1/60th shutter or else the lights would flicker really bad. I chose to shoot at 1/100th as that was the best option that would put the shutter in sync with the 50 hrtz frequency. It was a little annoying because then I needed to push the gain to compensate for the light loss with a sharper shutter but better that than giant strobing lines across the frame.
Overall it was a solid trip and an exciting one as the team took home the gold medal. It was fun to be a part of that and to be able to document their journey from beginning to end.