As a video guy in the ski industry, I have come to have a particular set of gear that optimizes efficiency yet still allows for getting great footage. Upon getting into the filming of snow sports, the equipment that I have acquired is a huge part of it. Here are the essentials…
Manfrotto 516 fluid head tripod
Rode NTG2 Shotgun Microphone w/ windscreen
Libec ZC-3DV handle zoom.
Panasonic AG HPX170
A great camera for shooting action sports. This camera comes from the infamous DVX 100, a Panasonic camera that was an industry standard prior to the HD/solid state camera boom. There-for the way the camera is designed is time tested. All of the buttons are situated so as to make shooting in manual modes very handy and natural. The HPX shoots in P2 DVCPRO HD, a common Panasonic format that has been seen in shows such as Planet Earth. The most recent version of this camera shoots in 1280p, 720p, 1280i and all other DV formats. The codec writes to P2 cards (seen below) that are specific for P2 cameras.
The HPX170, like all other P2 cameras can be set up to shoot different and distinct looks using the cameras Scene File settings. Using these settings the camera can shoot video that can look just like many types of film and when this is properly done it can save you a great amount of time in post.
Filming snow sports can sometimes be tricky due to the amount of light in relation to the number of stops on the cameras aperture. Thus, the 3 built in ND filters allow for correct exposure and this makes shooting with a low depth of field possible. If further ND filters are needed, the lens attachment ring is 72 mm.
• Width 6.1 in
• Depth 15.6 in
• Height 7.1 in
• Weight 4.2 lbs
• Body Material Aluminum-magnesium alloy
• Digital Zoom 10 x
• Optical Sensor Size 1/3″
• Optical Sensor Type 3CCD
• Image Stabilizer Optical
• White Balance: Automatic, Presets, Custom
• Built-in ND Filters: 1/4, 1/16, 1/64
• Supported Resolution: 1080i, 480i, 1080p, 720p, 480p
• Gain Selection
• Zebra pattern, Waveform monitor, Vectorscope
Drawbacks: The most notable drawback to this camera may be shooting things in focus as the viewfinder is not full HD size. Having a good understanding of how the cameras focus assist mechanisms is vital. ALWAYS use the EVF Detail function as this will highlight the edges of what you are shooting in a way that will help you hone in your focal length. Also, setting the focus numbers to distance (on your display) will give you an idea of where your focus ring should be. In addition, there is a Focus Assist button that will zoom into your frame, allowing you to see edges more clearly.
Manfrotto 516 fluid head tripod
This is a great fluid head that will not break your bank. This is a very bomber head and will survive pretty much anything you can put it through. Another plus, is its sturdiness. I can get perfectly fluid motions from this tripod head while zoomed in all the way with a telephoto lens extender attachment on.
The main drawback is it’s weight. If you are big on long backcountry treks, or are not concerned with getting long distance, steady shots then you might want to find a lighter fluid head.
Max load Capacity: 22 lbs
Head height: 4.9 inches
Quick Release: Yes
Tilt: +90° -60°
Weight: 4.4 lbs Notes Independent Tilt Lock
Rode NTG-2 Shotgun Microphone w/ windscreen
This is another item that will not break your bank, but the value is great. All of the audio from the GNAR movie was shot with this mic and not surprisingly it is one of the popular mics in its price range. It has a super cardioid mic, which creates a very low noise output, and allows for better recording at the low and high points of a recording. Used with a windscreen, this microphone will produce high quality audio for backcountry interviews, even where wind may be steady and strong.
Broadcast sound quality
Low noise circuitry
P48 phantom power or 1.5V AA battery
Two step High-Pass Filter – Flat or 80Hz
Rugged metal construction
Low weight – 161g (5.17 oz.)
Low handling noise
Libec ZC-3DV handle zoom
For the best results while filming, I strongly suggest using any type of handle zoom. The Libec ZC-3DV handle zoom, allows you to zoom smoothly with the hand that you maneuver your tripod from. This frees your other had so that you can adjust your focus and produce cool focus racked shots also involve zooming. The overall effect is that you will get much smoother shots. Even if you do not need your other hand to adjust manual settings, I find it better to not have to use the servo zoom on the body, as this may cause you to bump the camera, and, or, other settings.
Compatibility: Most Sony and Canon cameras with LANC jack / P – Panasonic cameras with Cam Remote jack)
REC: Record start / stop
ZOOM: Zoom lever can be variable for zoom speed Physical Clamp distance (diameter): 0.4 – 1.2″ (10 – 30mm)
Connector cable: 2.5mm Stereo mini jack
Cable Length: 20″ (510mm) Operating Temperature 32 – 104°F (0 – 40°C) Weight 6.7 oz (190g)