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This is my personal travel, photography, cinematography and adventure related blog. Here I share my visual experiences coupled with interesting articles from my trips and photography outings

Antarctica expedition on board of Bark Europa. Travel video.

So I have finally made it. Here is the result of few weekends of editing. a brand new travel video from the Antarctica expedition on board of Bark Europa. It took me a while to get to the editing since I was so busy at work, but now it is done and I hope you like it.

A few words on how I made it

I have to confess this trip was not so much about taking video during my trip to Antarctica. Primarily I focused on taking photographs. The whole trip was designed as a photography trip with 3 professional photographers on board. However, I did capture some video footage and I thought why not try and make a short travel video.

All together I captured about 2hrs worth of material. A big chunk of it was useless and too shaky. Here and there I found bits that were usable with some stabilizing in post. My goal was to edit it down under 10 minutes so I don't have to bore the audience too much :) 

Equipment

I captured on GoPro Hero 5 Black and Fujifilm X-T2 camera with XF 14mm 2.8 and XF 50-140mm 2.8 with attached TC 1.4 teleconverter. I didn't use any tripod or any other hardware-based stabilizer. Sometimes the wind was so strong it would not help anyway. The Fujinon telephoto zoom has image stabilisation so I utilised that. Most of the GoPro footage was shot at 2.7K so I could use the image stabilisation function there too. The results were not convincing and footage was still shaky. It was also heavily suffering from rolling shutter wobble. I guess I was hitting the limits of that functionality.

I set both cameras to capture the footage at the flattest possible profile. GoPro with Protune Flat Native and X-T2 with  Pro Neg Hi picture style with sharpness, contrast and saturation set to their minimum levels. I captured some of the footage at 4K 24p and some at HD 1080, 60p. At the end I didn't use any slow motion in the final edit.

Capturing video

I had a variable ND filter which I wanted to use to get the shutter speed under control but it turned out to be such a hassle putting it on and taking it off between taking photographs and shooting video. At that point, I made a conscious decision to focus on photography and forget about the ad180-degree shutter rule.

I also didn't bother with the tripod. I used it only once for photos. The landings were relatively short and I figured it is better to be nimble. Most of the times when light levels were low (dusk and dawn) we were on the boat anyway and there the tripod is useless. I tried to make the most using handheld techniques. I also knew that in my final edit I won't have overly long shots and I was confident I will be able to find sections in the footage with less shake.

Last but not least, the Fujifilm X-T2 captures beautiful footage. But it is a photographer's camera. The usability when shooting video is less than ideal. Especially when switching from photo-centric settings to video and back. It requires too many steps that take time and it is easy to forget to set a thing or two. I already knew about these shortcomings and I just worked around it. 

 Shot grade before and after.

Shot grade before and after.

Edit and post production

I used Davinci Resolve 15 (free beta version) for almost entire process. It blows my mind that this piece of powerful software is available for free. Especially when the functionality is about 95% of that of a paid version which is sold at very competitive price anyway. It is a complete filmmaking solution in one package.

The only piece of paid software I used was FilmConvert, a plugin for Davinci Resolve. I used it for the initial grade and I added tweaks on top of it as needed per shot basis. I could have done the grade without it but it would take much longer to do it.

 FilmConvert tab inside Davinci Resolve 15

FilmConvert tab inside Davinci Resolve 15

Sound

I am totally new to this part of filmmaking but I am aware of significant importance of sound. All the sound design and mixing was also done inside Davinci Resolve. Yes most of the sound was rebuild in post. On site captured sound was for most part useless due to very strong wind. I had an external microphone with deadcat but it just didn't help.I had no other choice only to try rebuild most of the sounds in post.

I used Audacity (excellent free waveform editor) for voice over edits. I have mostly done de-noising, equalisation, compression and normalising within Audacity. I could have probably done it inside Fairlight module in Davinci Resolve, but have zero experience with it. Well, I try to learn as I go.

Recording the interviews was a challenge due to constant noise coming from the ship's "daily life". Finding a dead quiet spot was impossible. Also my experience editing audio is limited. I am aware it is far from perfect but I try to learn as I go. Huge thanks goes to Frits Meyst for recording the interviews and allowing me to use them. 

 Audacity, free yet powerful audio waveform editor 

Audacity, free yet powerful audio waveform editor 

Soundtrack

It took me quite some time to find the right soundtrack for the piece. Since this is a personal project, I decided to go with soundtrack that is licensed under Creative Commons. After a long searching I settled on two pieces from Kevin Macleod and Aleksandr Shamaluev. I edited the soundtrack to fit my desired video length and then edited to it.

The whole editing process was lengthy. My initial rough edit was over 10 mins long and I desperately wanted to make it shorter. I know the attention span these days is short and even 7min long video seems to be just way too long. After many re-edits and revisions I ended up with the edit under 8mins. I showed it to few selected people to get some feedback. But now it is done. 

They say a movie is never finished. It is abandoned :) So I am abandoning this one and moving on to another project. Antarctica is a very challenging place to shoot video. There is constant wind, cold, damp you name it. If not that there is some other element that makes it hard. But it is incredibly rewarding and well worth to visit. I am aware that not everybody can, so for those here is this short video.Enjoy.