Gear Kit: Carlos Perez Beltran in the slums and under water
Storyhunter Carlos Perez Beltran is a Venezuelan journalist, writer, director and producer currently residing in Miami, Florida. He is also a prolific freelancer on Storyhunter, and has been commissioned on the platform by Fusion, Discovery Digital Networks, AJ+, and Streemfire. We asked him to tell us a bit about his gear.
RUN-AND-GUN / BASIC KIT
When I was in Venezuela covering the riots in 2014, I would only bring with me a simpler version of the rig you see here. No upper handle or barn doors and no follow focus. I basically needed my camera to be as stable as I could get it with a rig and for it to remain discrete: authorities had an issue with freelance reporters.
For feature pieces, such as character-driven stories like the ones I’ve shot in Miami, I bring my laptop and hard-drive along, in case I want to take a break, download all of the footage from the day to my computer and check that everything’s going well. If the particular situation I’m shooting is hectic and there’s not a whole lot of time for checking audio levels or messing with the lav mics, I use the Rode Video Mic. It does a decent job if your main focus is a scene where you’re not conducting an interview, just action. This basic equipment (I’ve put together) has proven light and effective when I’ve had to shoot and edit on a hard deadline.
- Canon 5D Mark II and 7D
- Lenses: 24–70mm / 2.8 & 85mm / 1.8
- Morros DSLR Shoulder Rig with Follow Focus and Barndoors
- Senheisser Lav mic for interviews
- Rode video Mic for ambiance sound recording
- 5 CF cards
- Extra batteries
- A rugged external hard drive
ON ASSIGNMENT, ON A BOAT
I was shooting a story for AJ+ for a segment they called “What I Hunt for Dinner.” I got a hold of Manuel Menendez, who’s a bit of a celebrity in the free-diving spear-fishing circles, not only in Florida, but he holds international recognition and several records in different categories as well. We shot the piece in Miami Beach. After “hunting his dinner” I went to his place where he prepared and cooked the fresh catch. It was a visually strong and light piece. Al Jazeera was quite pleased.
The story was shot using a Canon 7D with a 24–70mm /2.8 lens, a Sennheisser wireless lav mic for the interview, a Rode Video Mic for natural sound and a Morros Shoulder Mount for stabilization. A GoPro Hero 2 with underwater casing and a makeshift rig for extra stabilization underwater.
Since I knew I would be on a boat most of the time, I didn’t want to deal with changing lenses, the 24–70mm is a perfect choice for these sort of fast-paced stories when conditions don’t allow me to carry around all of my lenses. At 70mm the lense is macro so it was perfect for nicely composed close ups. It is quite a versatile lens.
I would suggest for shooting on boats to use some sort of steady cam rig for the DSLR in order to avoid extremely shaky footage. I had to shoot at 60fps on the boat just to be able to keep at least a few seconds of decent “steadyish” footage during the editing process (in slow motion things tend to look more stable). We also used a Go Pro Hero 2 for the underwater footage. I know the Hero 2 will son be obsolete, since the Hero 4 already came out. But for this particular story, the Hero 2 specs were sufficient. It all looked good. Since I would be doing all the shooting from the boat, I had to hire a second camera guy with diving experience to capture footage underwater (again using the GoPro and a simple makeshift rig that would allow for some stabilization). I just told him about what I needed and he went for it. It worked out.
Carlos Beltran’s award-winning documentary work focuses on socio-political issues in Latin America. He is also the founder of a boutique creation house specializing in TV and online advertisements.