An Inside Look at Shooting In Iceland
Posted by Michael Coen
Usually, you want as much time as possible to plan for a video shoot. Pre-production is often the most important phase, as it sets the tone for how a project will go. In this case Chris, the founder of Matador, called me up with about 5 days notice and asked if I wanted to go to Iceland to document the process of getting photography for the launch of their new product line. All notions of pre-production went out the window and off to Iceland we went.
Alongside Chris and photographers Matt Brodeur and Adam Swartz, it was not only one of the most fun shoots I’ve experienced to date, but also one of the most challenging. Since a main goal was to test adventure products in “real-world” conditions, we were essentially seeking out bad weather. That coupled with trying to cram as many photo opportunities into one short trip, my hands were full as the sole videographer on the project. My approach was to capture as much footage as possible and bank on Tabitha and I being able to bring it all together in the edit later on.
Here’s an inside look at how I approached a last minute shoot in Iceland.
There’s always a goal in mind when it comes to your production and the footage you need to capture. For this video it was pretty straightforward.
Show the bags being put to the test.
Incorporate the purpose of the trip which was to get photo assets for their launch.
Make it visually fun to watch.
Sony A7SII Camera
Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens
Glidecam HD-2000 Handheld Gimbal
Edelkrone Motion Control Medium Slider Pro
Mavic Pro Drone
Sony RX100V (Back-Up Pocket Camera)
Rode Video Mic Pro
Glidecam - I didn’t get to use this as much as I wanted. It came in handy to get some smooth shots here and there but because of the windy conditions, it was usually impossible to keep stable. If I had to do this same shoot again, I would bring something like a Ronin-S (strong motors and single-person operation) for floaty, buttery, landscape footage.
Slider - Had we been backpacking or traveling in anything other than a Land Rover Defender, I would have left this behind. For how small it is, it’s a pretty great way to get well-produced shots on a budget. But it’s still heavy and can be cumbersome, taking time away from getting other shots you could be getting. It was a bonus and probably accounts for 1 or 2 shots in the entire video.
Drone - You can’t go to Iceland and not get aerial footage right? Even if it’s on a dinky Mavic Pro, I still needed to get something up in the air and capture those insane Icelandic landscapes. Midway through, the drone malfunctioned in a dust storm and was useless for the rest of the trip. I’m still glad I brought it though and would probably spring for a nicer drone package if I ever go back.
Handheld - Good ol’ trusty handheld footage. Most of this video was shot handheld, using the neck strap for stabilization. My go-to method was shooting in 120 frames per second and slowly swaying from side to side to get a slight tracking or wrapping shot. I looked like a dancing fool in real life but it gets the job done and adds subtle motion to an otherwise static shot. It would have been nice to have a bigger production camera like a Sony FS7, but shooting on a small A7SII allowed me to be really versatile as a solo-camera operator in some less-than-desirable conditions. The on-camera monitor did fail on me during an ice storm and has never quite been the same since, but other than that the A7SII really held its own.
My biggest takeaway from the whole thing is that ‘less is more.’ I think you can create some pretty fun content with a “prosumer” camera, one lens and a packable drone. Would I like to have shot this on a Red Weapon and DJI Matrice 600 Pro Drone? Of course! But there’s no way I would have been able to capture everything we were exposed to without being as nimble and unrestricted as I was. There will always be bigger and better gear. Just go shoot!
Special thanks to Matador for always pushing their brand and continuously creating opportunities for content creators like me.
Watch the video here: https://vimeo.com/295827390
Written by Michael Coen and Tabitha Yeasley