10 things for desert shoots
cameraassistant conditions desert extreme shooting
on 3/2/20, 2:11 PM • 492 views
Hi all, I've just returned from a 4 week shooting in the Maroccan desert and since it was my first time in such an extreme environment, I found out a lot of things during the journey, but I feel I'm still missing a lot so this thread wants to be more a shout out to fellow focus pullers that are more experienced in this particular kind of shooting.
Here's my 10-thing-list, curious about yours!
1- AIR! It's really incredible the amount of dust that sticks to the gear each and every day, even doring takes. So, air in all its forms is crucial. Make sure your camera truck has a compressor and that in occasion it will be able to power it even if the big genny is away. A small 5Kw genny is usually a solution. Get loads of canned air, you're going to need it.
2- BE SUPER CLEAN Sounds like an obvious tip, but is very important to take the time to clean the gear every day, not only with air but also with a cloth and some cleaning liquid (where it's possible). The sand goes away pretty easily but the dust sticks in every little screwhole and on almost any surface and material. It forms kind of a layer that after ten or twelve hours in the cold of the camera truck can get hard to take away.
3- TRANSPORT: Have ready some back up option to your standard camera carts. You are going to find yourself in quite a few situation where you are going to need something with bigger weels. In my production we had foldable fisherman carts that saved our souls a lot of times.
4- GLASSES: Not a matter of style, but you are going to need at least two pair of glasses (sunglasses and transparent glasses for sand storms). The most they stick to your face the better, your eyes will be grateful and you wanna have them happy. In the crew a lot of people had snowboard masks with yellow glass, which were very usefull specially in low contrast situations such as dusk and dawn.
5- SUNCREAM The desert can be very cold when windy, but that doesn't take away the fact that the sun is still burning your skin, so take with you good high protection suncream, which could not be so easy to find depending on where you are travelling.
6 WEAR VERSATILE: The termal change can be really surprising, going from 0/4 celsius degrees in the early morning (leave alone before sunrise) to 23 or even 30 when the sun is on top, so be prepared to have all kind of clothes on the camera truck and choose clothes easy to wear and take out. Breathable fabrics are highly recommended.
7 HYDRATE: Try to have always at the reach of your hands and drink often. Fruits are also very suitable, specially bananas.
8 FILTERS AND CAM: Always have something to cover the camera (on my production we had a transparent cover aside of the standard black and silver one) and consider having with you a couple of clear filters that you can clean between takes or swap and clean with relative calm.
9 READ Try to collect as much info as you can about the clima of the place of the shooting, and how it can have consequences on the gear and specially on lenses and batteries. In case it does affect them be prepared to combat this elements.
10 GO TO WATCH THE FULL MOON It's mind blowing how can be the sky without absolutely any luminic contamination... Since you are down there, don't miss it
On 3/5/20, 2:58 PM
That's a super useful guide to desert shootings! Thank you so much!