Jump to content


Photo

Cave shooting


  • Please log in to reply
8 replies to this topic

#1 james ball

james ball

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 7 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 06 February 2009 - 07:52 PM

I am shooting in a cave with an HD camera, and it's expected it will be extremely humid. It's a 2 hour hike through waist high water to get to the location, everything will be on our backs and battery powered. Anyone with advice or info. on how to optimize performance of cameras and HMI lights in this environment?
  • 0

#2 James Steven Beverly

James Steven Beverly
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 4199 posts
  • Director
  • El Paso, Texas

Posted 07 February 2009 - 03:14 AM

You're gonna use battery power HMIs? Isn't that gonna really limit your lighting possibilities, I mean, how many of these battery powered lights are you gonna take and how powerful are they, also what is the battery life expectancy under optimal conditions and what can you expect to be the drop in performance under humid and I'm assuming cold this time of year, swampy conditions? How well do these lamps work when compared to regular HMIs and will the color temp change as the batteries lose power over time?

See, I guess what I'm getting at is maybe it might be better to use a raft or small boat to ferry a small genny and your camera equipment in if you can find one or build one with a couple of empty plastic (lighter than steel) 50 gal drums, some rope and a sheet of plywood. Ya put the equipment on the raft, get in the water and haul it African Queen style while the others in your party steady it along the trip. You could even cut hand holes on the edges of the ply for portage should you have to pick the whole thing up and carry it overland at any point.

See I just keep getting these visions of the guy with the camera slipping while walking through the waist deep water and falling in which may or may NOT be a problem, but if you have a single, unexpected leak, it could be disastrous, plus lights ran from a genny might give you more possibilities without the worry of running out of power for the light before you have all the shots you need....just a thought.

As for optimizing what you have, I would imagine all the old rules apply, keep everything dry and relatively warm, watch out for condensation on the lenses and eye piece, the cold kills batteries so if possible, keep them warm by plugging them in and slipping them close to your body so your body heat will warm them. etc.

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 07 February 2009 - 03:16 AM.

  • 0

#3 Ian Cooper

Ian Cooper
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 469 posts
  • Other
  • England

Posted 07 February 2009 - 02:22 PM

I am shooting in a cave with an HD camera, and it's expected it will be extremely humid. It's a 2 hour hike through waist high water to get to the location, everything will be on our backs and battery powered. Anyone with advice or info. on how to optimize performance of cameras and HMI lights in this environment?


My experience tends to be in disused mines rather than caves, and personally usually still photography rather than moving - although I have helped with videoing underground using the Sony HDR-FX1.

Peli-Cases / Otterboxes are great to protect equipment and can be totally waterproof... just make sure the seals are totally clean before sealing up else you could get a leak when they inadvertently get dunked!

The temperature underground tends to remain fairly stable, in the UK that's around 8/9 degrees C. In the summer it's warmer outside so you don't meet a problem, but in the winter watch out! If the camera/lenses have cooled to below the ambient temperature underground then the lens immediately fogs up when you unpack it underground! A hint is to pack a well sealed hot water bottle with the camera to keep it warm if you have a fair walk in the cold before going underground. Also a couple of night-light type candles can be useful to put on the ground under the tripod to let the rising warm air gradually kill the mist on the lens if you do get caught out. Don't try cooking the lens with them - keep them a couple of ft away, but the rising warm air can speed things up a bit - I've been know to sit and wait for over an hour for the lens to de-mist! Best to avoid trying to wipe lenses underground - too much moisture just means you end up with a mess! ...and too much risk of grit or dirt getting caught up in the process.

Keep a clean dry bit of cloth with you at all times and wear gloves when not using equipment. Take gloves off just prior to touching cameras etc and give fingers a wipe to try and minimise the amount of dirt that gets transferred!

I know it's stating the bloomin' obvious, but don't put lights alongside the camera as you'll just illuminate the moisture in the air and end up with low contrast fog! Just having the light an arm's length away from the lens axis is enough to 'hide' the moisture in the air. Strong backlight can work wonders though as you'll see 'steam' rising from any people in the shot.

After you've finished underground pack all the equipment up and head out. When you get home leave the equipment packed up in their boxes etc. as you had them U/G until the temperature of everything has warmed up again. If you don't do this then the camera ends up getting covered in condensation when you unpack it! Once the gear has warmed back up to ambient you can then split it up to as many bits as possible and leave it all to dry out properly.


Best of luck,
Ian.
  • 0

#4 Jamie Metzger

Jamie Metzger
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 773 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • San Francisco

Posted 07 February 2009 - 04:29 PM

Quality Vs Quantity. Try to bring as much as you can, while still bringing as little as you can :)

Flashlights (extra batters, and flashlights too, because someone always forgets)
Lanterns
Tons of rop
Safety gear
Rain Gear
bandana for covering your mouth (some get dusty, some not)
extra socks and underwear
flares
walkies
weather report
compass/gps


My experience tends to be in disused mines rather than caves, and personally usually still photography rather than moving - although I have helped with videoing underground using the Sony HDR-FX1.

Peli-Cases / Otterboxes are great to protect equipment and can be totally waterproof... just make sure the seals are totally clean before sealing up else you could get a leak when they inadvertently get dunked!

The temperature underground tends to remain fairly stable, in the UK that's around 8/9 degrees C. In the summer it's warmer outside so you don't meet a problem, but in the winter watch out! If the camera/lenses have cooled to below the ambient temperature underground then the lens immediately fogs up when you unpack it underground! A hint is to pack a well sealed hot water bottle with the camera to keep it warm if you have a fair walk in the cold before going underground. Also a couple of night-light type candles can be useful to put on the ground under the tripod to let the rising warm air gradually kill the mist on the lens if you do get caught out. Don't try cooking the lens with them - keep them a couple of ft away, but the rising warm air can speed things up a bit - I've been know to sit and wait for over an hour for the lens to de-mist! Best to avoid trying to wipe lenses underground - too much moisture just means you end up with a mess! ...and too much risk of grit or dirt getting caught up in the process.

Keep a clean dry bit of cloth with you at all times and wear gloves when not using equipment. Take gloves off just prior to touching cameras etc and give fingers a wipe to try and minimise the amount of dirt that gets transferred!

I know it's stating the bloomin' obvious, but don't put lights alongside the camera as you'll just illuminate the moisture in the air and end up with low contrast fog! Just having the light an arm's length away from the lens axis is enough to 'hide' the moisture in the air. Strong backlight can work wonders though as you'll see 'steam' rising from any people in the shot.

After you've finished underground pack all the equipment up and head out. When you get home leave the equipment packed up in their boxes etc. as you had them U/G until the temperature of everything has warmed up again. If you don't do this then the camera ends up getting covered in condensation when you unpack it! Once the gear has warmed back up to ambient you can then split it up to as many bits as possible and leave it all to dry out properly.


Best of luck,
Ian.


  • 0

#5 Adrian Sierkowski

Adrian Sierkowski
  • Sustaining Members
  • 7117 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, Ca

Posted 07 February 2009 - 05:20 PM

I would worry about a genny and air quality when in such an enclosed location.... So Batteries, lots of 'em. Lots of flashlights. see if you can get some LED flashlights, they're lower power consumption with more light from what I'm told.
  • 0

#6 Jake Kerber

Jake Kerber
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 65 posts

Posted 07 February 2009 - 09:52 PM

Hey James,

I've done a fair amount of shooting in various caves--wet and dry.

Could you elaborate on where and what you're shooting and how many people you have available to carry gear? Do you need to shoot along the way to the main location?
Have you already done a tech scout/hike to see what the route is really like? Are there any space restrictions along the way (i.e. extremely narrow passages where the size of your equipment cases or bags
is a factor)? More info on the specifics of the cave would be helpful.

What kind of camera are you using? FWIW, I've had great success with the Varicam in humid cave conditions. Whatever camera you're using, once you power it up, keep it on the entire day. This will help a lot in keeping the camera warm and dry.

We lit most of our scenes with a combination of the following (all battery powered):

1x1 Lite Panels -- powered by Lite Panel Powerpak or Anton Bauer camera battery in a pinch (must have AB plate with proper connectors)
400w HMI Joker -- powered by Powermills Lithium Ion battery belts (these are a must have)
800w HMI Joker -- powered by Powermills Lithium Ion battery belts (these are a must have)
Military Grade Halogen Flashlights
Jem Ball w/ 100w globe on the end of a boom pole

In regards to color temp shifts with battery drop, I didn't notice this happening. However, like any discharge source color temps between units could be a bit off, so definitely carry some plus green, minus green,
CTB and CTO (maybe 1/8 and 1/4, since most variations tend to be subtle).

Transport and access is always difficult with caves. You mention everything needs to be carried in (no flotation devices or inflatable rafts can be used, right?). Well, another D.P. I know took metal backpack frames
and attached them to 1650 Pelican Cases for exactly this kind of use. For the wet conditions you're describing, I'd also put the equipment in dry bags and then into the Pelican cases.

Best,

Jake
  • 0

#7 james ball

james ball

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 7 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 10 February 2009 - 08:15 AM

Thanks everyone for some really great advice and insights...going under today and will report back.

Jim
  • 0

#8 Ian Cooper

Ian Cooper
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 469 posts
  • Other
  • England

Posted 10 February 2009 - 09:08 AM

Have Fun! :)
...and let us know how you get on!

Posted Image
  • 0

#9 james ball

james ball

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 7 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 13 February 2009 - 11:36 AM

Hi all-
Reporting back on the Illinois cave shoot. Advice taken by various posts included beefing up my battery supplies for the Joker HMI, which carried me through 8 hours of shooting, as well as bagging up the cameras before going into a very damp environment. Cameras in garbage bags then inserted into dry bags which were carried in back packs did the trick...no condensation issues. Had some issues setting light stands on rocky ledges and mud fields, wish I could have come up with some kind of transportable platform to put stands on, especially now that I am dealing with the cleaning of the gear!

Lighter batteries next time, I used Anton Bauer camera batteries for the lighting, along with lite panels that were very tough and long lasting. LED flashlights added nicely to the drama of the place, brought along half a dozen and handed them out to the geologists.

I would recommend next time absolutely insisting on a scout, it takes so much effort to get to anyplace with the gear, not to mention lighting an angle from scratch. And more sherpas! People get tired very quickly meandering through mud, rivers, and rock ledges with gear on their backs!

But the results were well worth the efforts..thanks for all advice!
  • 0


Willys Widgets

Visual Products

Wooden Camera

Aerial Filmworks

Rig Wheels Passport

The Slider

Tai Audio

Opal

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Metropolis Post

Technodolly

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Glidecam

Paralinx LLC

FJS International, LLC

Ritter Battery

CineLab

CineTape

Abel Cine

rebotnix Technologies

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Technodolly

CineLab

Tai Audio

Paralinx LLC

Visual Products

Aerial Filmworks

Wooden Camera

Ritter Battery

Glidecam

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Willys Widgets

Broadcast Solutions Inc

CineTape

Rig Wheels Passport

The Slider

Metropolis Post

FJS International, LLC

Opal

rebotnix Technologies

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Abel Cine