3D documentary filmmaking – choosing a camera


Three months after we started sourcing gear for rent and sale for our first 3D shoot – for the explosive demolition series Blowdown – we’ve narrowed down a camera … we think.

The final showdown was between the SI-2K and the Iconix.

Before I go into which one we chose and why, it’s probably useful to explain exactly what we need them for.

This episode of Blowdown requires more than twenty 3D cameras:

– Two to film actuality and main story beats.

Our camera needs for this:

1. “A” camera system. Portable and operated by one person. This is when suppliers told us – “can’t be done.”

2. “B” camera Rig. As above – but for close-ups.

-18+ POV and kill cams capturing large and small scale on-site action and the actual implosions – which in the case of the Fonte Nova stadium will be many.

I’ve inserted screen grabs of the types of POVs we capture:

At the base of a rocket tower implosion, Cape Canaveral.

To get the dynamic idea of what these kill cams, mounted to the structures Controlled Demolition implodes, have to stand up to, watch them in action.


Blowdown in 3D

Over the next eight months we are going to shoot, edit and deliver our first 3D episode of Blowdown.

We do films in dangerous and remote locations around the world. The environments are usually extreme – invariably hard on people and even more so on electronics. But we love science and engineering projects like Blowdown where we get to document the process of imploding a structure. We get a thrill from mounting dozens of cameras to capture every aspect of the building coming down.

Now adapt that to 3D. Impossible. But no amount of nay-saying or eye rolling could pull me off the rather single-minded desire to begin shooting our series in 3D.

So why do it? For me it’s easy. It’s the natural way we see things. I am a right-brain processor who takes in the world through images. Give me solid, engaging stories with great images and I am all yours. Take Avatar. It’s standard fare. Use a solid narrative arc and stock characters to deliver a middle of the road, satisfying story. It’s a classic hero’s quest. What sets it apart is its delivery of images. That was thrilling because I suddenly saw a new door to kick down, engaging me and offering a new way to tell stories to our audience.

The 3D project that popped was the Fonte Nova stadium demolition in Salvador, Brazil. We were invited by Controlled Demolition Inc. to film the challenge of prepping and imploding one of the largest soccer stadiums in the world to make way for a brand new facility for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Wouldn’t you watch that? So, like fools we rushed in. But we have some angels looking out for us.