Filming at a distance during the Covid-19 pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted most sectors of the economy to adapt how they work, and this is also true of film, video and TV production.
It is important to manage risk effectively, and a big part of this will be working with the appropriate equipment to give you the technical support needed to comply with social distancing guidelines.
We’ve already published a blog on filming during the pandemic, which offers tips and advice about ensuring your production crew is Covid secure.
These are based on Government and industry advice.
Now, we’re going to look at specific equipment and accessories, which offer practical assistance and advanced capabilities for when you’re filming at a distance.
Sony PXW-FX9 Camera
The challenge of filming in a Covid-secure way is how to maintain control but to do so while socially distancing yourself or your crew.
While the FX9 offers a broad dynamic range and can capture 4K imagery with its precision controls, it also provides you with the means to film at a distance.
The Sony PXW-F9 has built-in Wi-Fi capability, which means you can monitor what you film with a smartphone and app.
Using smart remote control, you can turn your smartphone, or tablet, into a primary remote. This allows you to stream a live feed from your camera to your mobile. This is becoming increasingly common on other cameras too including RED and ARRI.
All the time, you stay remote from your camera, maintaining safe social distancing during filming.
Sony XDCA-FX9 Extension Unit
During the pandemic, working remotely has become the norm, but translating this into the world of film and videography means finding practical ways to support the technology you rely on.
When you connect the extension unit to the Sony PXW-FX9, it enhances its network capabilities as well as enabling more of a ENG-style shoulder mounting rig and providing additional power input and output.
The unit’s ethernet connectivity, allows control of the camera from a laptop instead of huddling around the camera. This gives you added flexibility when shooting under social distancing conditions.
Sony G Master Lenses
The Sony G Master lenses work in unison with the FX9 to enable auto focus and face tracking. Not only that but specifically for which eye and even animal face tracking. This enables quicker shooting with less crew and in some cases with no crew near the camera at all. Precise focusing in auto as well as manual mode. Tried and tested in industry auto focus is becoming more and more relied upon and trusted.
Sony RM-30BP Remote Commander
The RM-30BP remote will work at distances of up to 50 metres tethered to the lanc input on the FX9.
Allowing remote control of all camera functions, including with the correct lens zoom, iris control, focus control, recording and display functions, shutter, white balance and playback.
The RM-30BP is versatile, allowing you to assign six buttons on it to control functions and control of up to three cameras either individually or simultaneously.
Blackmagic Web Presenter
For high quality online broadcasting, the Blackmagic Web Presenter is the perfect tool. If your brief requires immediate, live transmission of your footage, this device makes live streaming simple.
This versatile black box is specially designed for internet broadcasting, and it will work with any video-supporting software for a webcam.
You simply plug your camera, or other video source, into the Blackmagic web presenter via HDMI or SDI, and connect the device to a computer’s USB port.
The web presenter tricks the computer into thinking the device it is connected to is a webcam.
You can then stream live and direct from your camera using platforms such as Zoom and YouTube Live.
This useful piece of kit holds your microphone in position gently, with no damaging clamping.
It will work with any conventional mic stand, or a lighting stand with a 5/8” spigot.
Using the Boom Buddy cradle device means you do not need to add to the number of bodies on set, and your sound operator can maintain a safe distance.
Chances are, if you’re filming outdoors, you will encounter wet weather. Also, with social distancing measures and guidelines in place, shooting outdoors is more likely to be the preferred choice.
We’ve been highlighting various technical devices to help with shooting in the new reality of Covid-19, but Aquapacs are a more fundamental form of support.
Essentially, they’re waterproof pouches specially made for cameras and other film equipment. Radio mic transmitters can be sealed inside to allow for easy sanitization after use.
Maximising your camera movement is essential if you’re going to film under social distancing guidelines.
The Kessler CineSlider is deceptively lightweight and portable.
It’s made of reinforced aluminium and with its precision movement, it’s the perfect solution for controlling camera movement at a distance. Movements can be manually controlled via the controller or pre-programmed using two or three key frames and a huge range of time frames.
Wireless monitoring allows crew on set to have and not share their own monitors. There are various models of wireless devices to do this, including the Teradek 1000 series, as well as the smaller HD 703 Bolt Monitor. With one transmitter to up to four receivers crew can remain distanced.
The Teradek Serve Pro allows for personal devices such as phones and tablets to be turned into monitoring devices using the correct free downloadable software too.
Wireless Lens Control
The ARRI WCU-4 integrates seamlessly with ARRI cameras to control important camera settings, and on all cinema camera trigger record start/stop as well as reliable and trusted control over focus, iris and zoom lenses.
There are many devices we stock to remain safely distanced on your shoot an still allow all your crew to do their job on set.