African Adventure pt. 2 – The operating room

•April 29, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Well, there might not be any hair raising escapades listed in this blog entry, but I’m getting pretty excited as the shoot draws nearer. We’re in the third day of gear prepping in Maun for the next leg of the African adventure – the Okavango, via BaLlOoN! Its going to be a Blast!

What was our modestly sized camera bay has become jam packed operating room as we’ve gone from having one large 3D zoom rig to about 6 different 3D rigs, and we’re still waiting for more to arrive. Here’s Bobby, surrounded…

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One of the great things about working on a film like this is the toys one gets to play with, and sometimes it really is like playing doctor as well. We spent the day applying razor blades to make gel’s fit behind lenses and even got to open up one of our custom built “Skinny-mini” Si2K cameras… not that I was smart enough to take photo’s of either of these delicate operations, but here at least is the operating table…

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And then here are our original “Tombstone” Si Mini’s.

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These wide-angle machine lenses are great! really looking forward to seeing what we get off the balloon with them. Can you imagine trekking up the whole of the delta in a hotair balloon? What better way to see it (without being eaten by crocs or sunk and trampled by hippos)… funnily enough, the balloon only fits two, so I’ll be tailing along below, dodging reeds, water lilies and crocs.

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Continent hopping

•April 3, 2011 • 1 Comment

You know you’ve been working hard when getting off an 11hour flight leaves you feeling well rested and fresh compared to when you got on. Moving house really takes it out of you, and there’s so much work I just haven’t got to this week. I’m sitting at the airport in Heathrow waiting for my connection to Los Angeles in about 2 hours and contemplating cheating my gluten free diet just so I can have one of the delicious looking sandwiches at the bar here. Starbucks is a good 15min walk away and I’m way too lazy for that right now. Its also all grey and misty which just adds to the laziness. Well, there’s a contrast for you: Misty Heathrow vs. the blazing sun in the Kalahari.

So I’m off to LA again! We’re re-speccing some of the complexities of the 3D rig, as well as repairing some gear. The radio transmitter on my follow focus remote stopped working on the 2nd last day, back home it goes to have a loose wire fixed.
Look forward to working alongside the American tech crew again, they’re all super efficient and really great to work with, that, and one gets to play with a whole bunch of toys there that still only exist as rumors in SA.

In the mean time I need to get writing on my AC’s report for that meeting, guess I’ll do most of it on the flight there. So much wiring to do though, still need to finish the spec outlines for four short courses a new film school in joburg wants to run this year.

Maun down to the Kalahari

•March 31, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I really wanted to be able to write letters to more than just a few people and haven’t had the chance while shooting. We were heading out at dawn, sleeping in the shade from lunch time and getting back to camp in the evenings and then have to set and re-calibrate cameras till at least 10 or 11pm , then, walk back to my tent while trying to decide if any of the green eyes watching me from the dark were lions. Yip, they have green eyes when you shine a torch at them, but then so do springbuck and gemsbok.

So, in 10 or 11 minute gaps between potential thunderstorms, I’d hoped to upload photo’s of the current adventure, but Satellite links turn out to be very intermittent, so here, a week later and some of the pics from Maun and then the trip down through the kalahari.

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Sunset on the Thamalakane river.

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Tim Liversedge’s deck…

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My AWESOME new hiking boots. Hot as the inside of a tank but miraculously my feet stay dry. Awesome. Did I mention they’re awesome.

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Its been a while since I’ve had my AC belt so well loaded…

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A truly epic tripod for the bush… and yes, I do use the phone where its velcro’d on. Calculator and Neg reports…

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Sunset in the Kalahari

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Wildebeest with Calves

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The brightest night in the last 65 years. Yes folks, that’s the moon. We were able to drive back well after sunset with our lights totally off and see perfectly, even spot game.

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Don on his way to his tent…

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Southern Cross

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The Kalahari has some amazing light… and storms

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10 points to anyone who can identify the bird

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Some very scattered thundershowers.

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Can you spot the lioness? Yeah, it really is a pic of a lion, with NO light.

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Don Searll and his new favorite toy.

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Tim Liversedge, our Director and cameraman, who may just throttle me for uploading this. He apparently doesn’t like pictures. I happen to like this one.

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The first flat tyre.

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Our water supply, which we found out had leaked out on the trip down… not a good thing to discover when you’ve just reached the central kalahari.

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One of the assistants took this while I was braving the muddy roads. About 20 seconds later and he would have had one with me getting a fateful of mud as I misjudged the depth of a puddle.

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A bit underexposed, but I like this pic… post wiping off the mud.

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Dinner prep – Day01

Lions outside my tent…

•March 19, 2011 • Leave a Comment

It’s 5am in the Kalahari and I believe there’s a lion pawing the door of my tent. Well, he’s leaning against it at the very least, but it also sounds like he’s having fun ripping up my welcome mat- it’s made from dense shade netting so it’s the perfect scratch pad for a giant kitten.

Another just started knocking around the tin jug I used for my sponge bath yesterday. ‘That’ll teach me to leave anything on the floor…

To be honest, when I woke up, I wasn’t quite sure what was outside my tent. It sounded like there were a lot of them, there was definitely something brushing against the thorn trees beside my bed. Something grunted and I actually thought it was a herd of gemsbok,, but then the scratching started. Trying NOT to imagine lions outside my tent ( ’cause that’s just stereotypically ‘paranoid’, right?), I went through the list of animals that are the size of ponies, travel in herds/packs of 10 and scratch apart netting like giant kittens. Unfortunately for my overactive imagination, there are only a few options on that list. They all begin with L, end in N.

At this point I heard my director bellow out of the darkness, ” OI! You lot! BUGGER off!”. The man-sized kittens outside my door stopped batting around my tin wash jug and frantically scampered around my tent. I found out later that instead of “buggering off” they decided to go tell Tim what they though f him (TIM = Tasty Interactive Morsel). They were a little surprised when Tim whipped out his ‘banger,’ which is a cross between a pen and a rocket propelled Black Widow firecracker.

To cut a long story short – Tim, having hopped in his land-rover, eventually chased off the 12 (He said it was at least that many) young adult lions.