Winter filming

6 replies [Last post]
Russel
Offline
Joined: Aug 29 1999

HI,

I am currently planning a shoot in Canada.
Does anybody know of or have any info on filming in artic conditions. i.e. -20degs centigrade and then some.

Thanks in advance

Russel.

Kaare
Offline
Joined: Apr 14 1999

Hello there,

yes I have! And it's a nightmare! Believe me, Norway is incrediblly cold at times during winter, in some parts just as cold as Canada. Batteries are your obvious problem. Analog cameras use hopeless batteries which don't keep charges for more than five minutes between every recharge! if at all, and the best you can do is to arrange some kind of device with a portable generator that can produce electricity for heat, then build yourself a "tent" or heat chamber of some sort to keep batteries warm. If you can't, then keeping a battery or two in your pants or better still - on your stomach inside your clothing is one solution. I had to do this when I worked as a journalist/photographer in northern Norway in temperatures down to 40-45 degress Centigrade below zero. Batteries in such cold won't work for more than five minutes tops - provided you can make your camcorder to work at all which is very doubtful. Usually camcorders don't work below 15-20 below zero C.

So it all depends how far off into the outback you will go, the farther the more problems you'll have. Video cameras are no good in extreme cold, whereas mechanical cine film cameras based on winding of spring feathers like the old Super 8 and 16mm are far better. On the other hand, developing 16mm film is awfully expensive.

In short, I have no good solution for you other than I have mentioned. You CAN work in shorts periods of time, but not you probably are used to in moderate temperatures like in England. Canadian winter temps are incredible! I have experienced down to 48C in northern Finland. You don't shoot and work long hours in such conditons.

Good Luck, pal, hope this was of some help.
Kaare Nilsen
Norway

------------------
Kaare Nilsen

Kaare

Kaare
Offline
Joined: Apr 14 1999

Hello there,

yes I have! And it's a nightmare! Believe me, Norway is incrediblly cold at times during winter, in some parts just as cold as Canada. Batteries are your obvious problem. Analog cameras use hopeless batteries which don't keep charges for more than five minutes between every recharge! if at all, and the best you can do is to arrange some kind of device with a portable generator that can produce electricity for heat, then build yourself a "tent" or heat chamber of some sort to keep batteries warm. If you can't, then keeping a battery or two in your pants or better still - on your stomach inside your clothing is one solution. I had to do this when I worked as a journalist/photographer in northern Norway in temperatures down to 40-45 degress Centigrade below zero. Batteries in such cold won't work for more than five minutes tops - provided you can make your camcorder to work at all which is very doubtful. Usually camcorders don't work below 15-20 below zero C.

So it all depends how far off into the outback you will go, the farther the more problems you'll have. Video cameras are no good in extreme cold, whereas mechanical cine film cameras based on winding of spring feathers like the old Super 8 and 16mm are far better. On the other hand, developing 16mm film is awfully expensive.

In short, I have no good solution for you other than I have mentioned. You CAN work in shorts periods of time, but not you probably are used to in moderate temperatures like in England. Canadian winter temps are incredible! I have experienced down to 48C in northern Finland. You don't shoot and work long hours in such conditons.

PS: I have not tried with modern DV camcorders and these newer ION batteries, but my guess is they are no better!

Good Luck, pal, hope this was of some help.
Kaare Nilsen
Norway

------------------
Kaare Nilsen

Kaare

Unicorn
Offline
Joined: Apr 12 1999

I agree; assuming the camera itself will work, then batteries are likely to be the biggest problem. I worked on a 35mm night shoot last winter in London, and even there our camera batteries dropped too low to use after a few minutes. Having spent part of a winter in -40 temperatures in Canada, I'd hate to think how long the batteries would last in those conditions.

P4-3.06/2GB RAM/2500GB IDE/SATA. Avid Media Composer, Liquid Edition, Premiere 6, Lightwave, Vue 6, eyeon Fusion 5. DV and HDV editing/compositing.

Alan Roberts at work
Offline
Joined: May 6 1999

I've skied with a camcorder many times and had no problems. I kept the camcorder (Panasonic S7) inside my jacket when not recording. I haven't done it with my newer DX100 yet, but it should work because the battery sits inside the camera and gets hot.

Batteries die when they are cold, so keeping them warm is the answer. Provided the camera itself doesn't get so cold that condensation forms on the optics or tape mechanism when not switched on, you should be ok. I intend to try the DX100 next winter on some slippery slopes somewhere in the Alps (I specialise in skiing backwards in front of a group, recording them with the camera about a foot above the ground, easy until a group of Germans gets in the way ).

tom hardwick
Offline
Joined: Apr 8 1999

Shooting movies while skiing. I've done it and can say you'll need a few things.

1) Wideangle converter. This'll not only 'speed up' the tracking shots (as Alan Roberts describes), but help to smooth out the inevitable bumps and lumps you'll meet on the downhill. Some lumpy footage can be good though, adding to the excitement.

2) ND filter to allow you to keep the shutter speed/frame @ 1/50th.

3) Manual control of the exposure. Snow is a real headache for lightmeters, and for any sort of snowscape - moving or still - you'll need to lock the exposure. Don't get fooled by all that snow - there's no more light about, it just *seems* to be so.

4) Lenshood if possible. Snow gets everywhere, and the hood can form mechanical protection for the front element. Use gaffer tape to seal up the door aperture.

5) Beware of sudden temperature changes. These can form condensation inside delicate mechanisms as well as under the w/a attachment.

6) Wish I could 'switch off' my zoom rocker. When I'm using the w/a adaptor it's all to easy to grab the camera body and inadvertantly 'zoom' out of focus. In the adreneline rush of skiing with both hands cradling camera, no sticks, watching camera, friends and the way ahead, you want the camera to do what you've set it to do, and nothing more.

tom.

Larry
Offline
Joined: Oct 3 1999

Too Cold for hitech batteries, you basically need some kind of method in keeping the battery under normal warm conditions. I might be wrong but that from my experience using DV-mini stuff. Camera Panasonic DX100.