Shooting with the Sony FS700 & R5 4K Recorder in Haiti – Video Update

Shooting with the Sony FS700 & R5 4K Recorder in Haiti – Video Update

We finally got most of the gear up and running and kicked it up a notch to start filming the machete fighters in slow motion on a steadicam.


To break down the setup, we’ve got the Sony FS700 (left) owned by DP Richard Patterson. This camera was released with a future 4K upgrade in the pipeline which just came out. The 4K requires two additional devices, the HXR-IFR5 interface (center) and the AXS-R5 recorder (right). The IFR5 interface connects to the camera through the SDI port and the recorder holds the SSD media for recording. AbelCine rented the R5 recorder to the production at a discount and the IFR5 was purchased from Sony.

To me, more appealing than the 4K from this setup is the ability to shoot unlimited slow-motion at 2K at 120 fps. Normally when shooting slow-motion on the FS700 you only have an 8 second window to record the action, then you have to wait for the camera to buffer the recording before you can shoot again. It’s a lot of down time and not ideal for recording machete fights with subjects not used to the technicalities of film production. This setup lets us record slow-motion at 2K (or 4K with buffering) for as much memory as we have, which is 20 minutes of action on a 512 GB SSD card.

I’m writing a full hands-on review of the experience when we’re done with production for Filmmaker Magazine, so there will be lots more information about the camera and some of the issues we ran into. There will also be a lot of insight from Richard, who will have worked with the setup firsthand for two weeks.

Follow the project on Facebook and help support it at the GoFundMe page.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and we’ll work on answering it.

Production in Haiti – Rum, Sugar Cane Fields, and Cap Rouge

Production in Haiti – Rum, Sugar Cane Fields, and Cap Rouge

Been in Haiti for the past few days for the currently untitled Haitian Machete Fencing Project. It’s a short doc on Tiré Machet, a martial art of machete fencing mastered and taught by professor Avril.

It’s going to be very cinematically shot. We’ve got the Sony FS700 with the just released 4k recorder along with a Steadicam. Been having some issues with noise with the Sony, which will hopefully be resolved today. I’m writing up a full report of shooting with the 4k for Filmmaker once the shoot is done.

Over the weekend we went location scouting. Found this amazing 200+ year old fort on top of the mountain named Cap Rouge, explored some sugar cane fields right next to our hotel, and met with the professor for the first time. After sipping some rum he gave us all our first lesson.

You can check out some of the highlights in our first video update.

Haiti, RISC Training, and US Travel – The Past Few Months

Haiti, RISC Training, and US Travel – The Past Few Months

It’s been a busy past few months with no hint of letting down anytime soon. Here’s a recap of what’s been happening and what’s coming up.

Haiti – I’m returning to Haiti to help out on an exciting short documentary project. It’s about the vanishing art of Haitian Machete Fencing, a fighting style that originated during the Haitian revolution. It will be a very stylish doc with lots of slow motion shots. You can find out more about the project and help support it (more crowdfunding requests!) at the GoFundMe page.

RISC Battlefield Medical Training – In June I was fortunate enough to take the RISC training course. RISC (Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues) is a four day first aid course for treating battlefield wounds. It was created by photojournalist Sebastian Junger, after his friend Tim Hetherington and fellow photojournalist Chris Hondros were killed in Libya (Sebastian and Tim directed the documentary Restrepo). There is very little training available to freelance journalists, and most of it is thousands of dollars as it’s targeted more towards business professionals or reporters for a major news agency. RISC was created to teach journalists how to treat life threatening wounds, and best of all it’s entirely free.

It was an amazing course run but some excellent individuals. I was surprised at how much I learned in only four days. And with this upcoming shoot of machete wielding fighters it’s knowledge I’m glad I have.

Because it’s free, I’m trying to pay it forward for future classes to help support them. Please consider donating a few dollars on my donation page. Donate to RISC.

Foundation Shoot – I’ve been traveling around the US the past six weeks shooting a video for a foundation highlighting their grant recipients. I’ve been traveling as a one man band and have fine tuned my kit to be travel friendly and moveable by one person (though my back might disagree). I’ll write a full post of what I’ve been using and some travel tricks I’ve found.

I’ll go into more detail about everything soon, but that’s it for now. You can always follow me on Instagram at @C47Joe.

How to Use Your iPhone Overseas Without Going Broke

Got back from Haiti – great trip, I’ll write about it soon. For now I just wanted to highlight some of the ways I use my iPhone to stay in touch without paying the ridiculously high data/voice rates.

(These tips are from first hand experience with an iPhone on AT&T. You’ll have to check your own provider for their data rates.)

Enable International Roaming

Whether you use your phone’s data or not, for AT&T you need to enable the International Roaming service. It’s free, you just need to have had an account in good standing for a few months. I did it over the phone with an AT&T rep, but you might be able to do it online.

For about $6 a month there’s a World Traveler add-on that will give you lower minute rates when using your phone in other countries. But that’s just an additional option to the free International Roaming.

SMS and Twitter are your Friend

After landing and turning on your phone, it will automatically connect to a cell provider. You’ll also get a text from AT&T with the current data rate for where you’re at. When landing in Haiti, it was $19.97 per Megabyte!

By default, International Roaming, an option in Settings, is off, which means your phone won’t use data when abroad (though you might want to double check that it’s off before you leave).

So aside from WiFi (which you should definitely try to find), the only other way you can transmit data to and from your phone is SMS text messaging.

For AT&T, it’s free to receive (or just deducted from your regular plan) and $0.50 to send. You can also pre-buy an international texting package, like 50 texts for $10 ($0.20 a text).

Twitter was natively built to work with texting (thus the 140 character limit). When setting up a Twitter account, it’ll ask for your phone number. Once setup, you can simply text a tweet to 40404.

What are the advantages of this even if you don’t use Twitter? Simple. 1 tweet, 1 text, unlimited recipients.

When going to Haiti it’s far easier and cost efficient to send one message anyone can read to know my status and well-being (well-being is more a family concern).

Family not up to par with technology? No problem. Any cell phone can follow you via SMS. For example, anyone could follow me by texting ‘follow @C47‘ to 40404. Done, that’s it. Updates go straight to their phone. Here are some more Twitter SMS tips.

It’s also a good idea to turn on SMS notifications for Twitter news feeds to get them sent to your phone, like CNN. And easy way to stay in the loop.

That’s all I got. This lets me keep people updated without paying crazy rates. If you need to communicate locally you can also buy a prepaid phone.

I’ve heard of unlocking phones and swapping SIM cards to have a local number (and be able to use data). Anyone have more info on that? Or any other tips?

Return to the Island (Not the Cork, Hispanola)

I’m gearing up for an early Monday morning flight to Port-au-Prince, finally returning to Haiti. It’s been a year and a half since the earthquake and nearly two and a half years since I was there for the first time.

This time I’m returning (along with two awesome people from PR company CVOX Group) to produce documentary style videos on the mobile banking system Tcho Tcho. Nearly 85% of Haitians have a cell phone. In a partnership with YellowPepper (mobile financial network), Digicel (the extremely popular cell phone provider), and Scotiabank, Haitians can have bank accounts and perform banking functions without the need of a physical bank branch. You can get a better overview of the system from this Fast Company article.

We’re looking to highlight how the system works and how it helps Haitians better conduct business. Though it’s only a two and a half day trip I’m excited to be returning.

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