Wildlife Filmmaking: Important Tips to Keep in Mind When Choosing Gear


In my last article, I had written concerning the numerous issues to think about whereas selecting the core items of  gear for a wildlife filmmaking equipment. Now, I would really like to introduce you to smaller but equally vital items of substances that can go a great distance in making certain you get the very best quality footage on area.

Exterior viewfinders/screens 

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An OSEE 7-inch exterior monitor produces over 3,000 nits of brightness, making it superb for out of doors use
Photograph Credit score: Sripad Sridhar

{Most professional} mirrorless/DSLR cameras include a tiny 3-inch or a 5-inch display screen constructed into the digital camera or in the case of some field fashion video cameras they don’t have any display screen in any respect. This isn’t superb for filmmaking, as you want to ensure your photographs are correctly uncovered, composed, and are in focus persistently if you end up recording. The small screens on the digital camera are simply ok to present you fundamental settings and a picture preview, although this may do for some pictures functions, it is hardly a very good instrument in contrast to a devoted monitor or viewfinder. 

A devoted monitor is often a 5-inch or a 7-inch display screen which may be mounted on the digital camera with the assistance of a digital camera cage or a sizzling shoe mount by means of an HDMI cable (micro, mini, for full measurement). Aside from giving a bigger, unobstructed view of the picture, most screens include a variety of nice monitoring instruments corresponding to focus peaking (highlights objects in your body that are in focus), false colors (helps you decide publicity precisely), zebras (reveals which a part of the body is being over uncovered), and lots of extra instruments.

Sripad’s tip: Exterior screens come in numerous value ranges and even the most affordable ones have nearly all of the instruments that you’ll ever want. The dearer ones differ solely in construct high quality, the color accuracy of the LCD panel, and the brightness of the display screen. If you’re not doing any colour-critical work, like in product promoting or vogue, spend the cash on the brightest monitor you will discover, its often measured in the unit referred to as ‘nits’. Any monitor with 1,000 nits and above may be thought of a vibrant monitor. View finders have a tendency to be dearer than exterior screens however cheaper choices are showing available on the market.

Manufacturers to look out for: Feelworld, Lilliput, SmallHD, SWIT, OSEE, Blackmagic, Atomos. Take a look at Portkeys and Zacuto for viewfinder choices.

Exterior energy

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A NPF 550 Battery on a SmallRig Battery plate can present extra energy to your digital camera or monitor
Photograph Credit score: Sripad Sridhar

When you might be out taking pictures in nature, you can see your self in locations which have poor energy choices, or no energy choices in any respect, in some distant locations. Which means that you’ll run the danger of your batteries draining half means by means of your shoot. 

Most mirrorless cameras and DSLRs, although they supply a wonderful picture, they nonetheless run on batteries designed for pictures. Whereas recording video in ‘full body’ or ‘tremendous 35mm’ mode on these cameras, the sensor stays on on a regular basis, sucking up a number of energy in the method. The answer for this downside is to carry a number of your digital camera’s batteries. This isn’t sensible for most individuals, not to point out the quantity of chargers and cables you want to deliver alongside for them. The skilled cameras remedy this concern through the use of massive highly effective batteries referred to as V-mount batteries or Gold-mount batteries, they’re massive boxy batteries that may energy {most professional} cameras/lights and different movie gear.

Exterior energy by means of these V-mount batteries will energy you monitor, your digital camera, and different smaller electronics in your digital camera like video transmitter or receiver nearly the complete day. You’ll find yourself carrying solely two or three of those on your complete shoot. Even if you happen to cant cost your batteries for a day or two, you should have sufficient energy to final you.

Sripad’s tip: Through the years I’ve discovered an excellent halfway between the facility of a V-mount battery and the portability of small mirrorless digital camera batteries, in the Sony NPF fashion camcorder batteries. They supply massive portions of energy however are nonetheless comparatively moveable and cheap. The V-mount batteries may be very costly and hulking. NPF batteries additionally come in numerous sizes. The smaller batteries just like the NPF 550 may be mounted on screens, whereas the bigger variant just like the NPF 970 may be mounted on rails like a V-mount battery. Energy can then be provided to all each a part of the digital camera rig. The newest cameras these days include USB-C choices as nicely, which implies a cellphone energy financial institution may preserve your cameras operating all through the day. 

Manufacturers to look out for: V-mounts (comparatively cheap choices): Neewer, Bebob, Newell, SWIT, Soonwell, Fxlion.
NPF batteries: Digitek, Wasabi Energy, and a lot of the manufacturers talked about in the V-mount class.
SmallRig makes wonderful Sony NPF 12v/7.4v battery plates which may be paired with any digital camera rig or equipment.

Cables 

cable sripad sridhar s

Cables come in proper angle configurations to assist cut back stress on the connectors
Photograph Credit score: Sripad Sridhar

Why discuss cables? As a result of they’re the data and energy super-highways in your digital camera rig that present constant information and energy enabling you to report all of the wonderful footage on area. Exterior screens  and exterior batteries are linked to your digital camera utilizing these cables. A damp rainforest, or a dusty desert, are locations the place you can see wonderful animals to movie. Nevertheless, they’re hostile environments for many digital tools together with your digital camera. Having something exterior in your digital camera’s physique make them probably the most susceptible a part of your rig. A damaged cable may be disastrous on a shoot as you free a indispensable instrument on area.

Exterior screens are linked to your digital camera through a HDMI cable (full-sized, mini, or micro HDMI connectors). They’re often positioned on an articulated arm, which may be moved round relying on the wants of the digital camera particular person. HDMI cables want to transfer together with the screens with out stressing the connectors on the digital camera or monitor. These cables are often thick. Should you examine your HDMI cable behind your TV or set high field you’ll perceive how rigid they’re, particularly close to the connectors.

Devoted cable producers remedy this concern by making hyper-thin, quick HDMI cables that may bend very simply. One other nice different is coiled HDMI cables, comparable to the cables discovered on outdated landline telephones. It is a nice design as they allow the cable to bend and flex, they permit for unintentional pulls with out paying the penalty of a damaged cable or connector. 

Energy from exterior batteries is provided to your digital camera through a DC energy connector, they arrive in a number of sizes which may be tough to inform aside due to the minute variations, you must look out for the outer and inside diameters of the cables, the commonest connector sizes are 5.5mm (outer diameter) and a pair of.5mm/ 2.1mm (inside diameter).

Sripad’s tip: The worth of top quality cables can’t be overstated. They’ll actually make or break your shoot. I’ve had a number of cables fail on me inside an hour of taking pictures (it was a kind of shoot days). All the time carry a number of backups for cables. There is no such thing as a level having the most effective exterior monitor on the planet if you happen to can not ship your digital camera sign to it. Equally, energy cables may be tough due to voltage points, a poor cable can probably fry your digital camera’s circuits. Look out for cable choices that enable you to screw in/ lock/ clamp your cable to the connector. Many digital camera rigs have this selection. 

Manufacturers to look out for: Camvate, Form, Kondor Blue, Atomos, Wood Digital camera. There are YouTubers who additionally promote their very own model of coiled/ braided cables. Should you like whacky colors, take a look at Gerald Undone cables. 

In my earlier article and in the one you simply learn, I’ve coated in relative depth the numerous features you want to think about whereas selecting filmmaking gear for wildlife videography. Within the age of immediate gratification, blindly selecting a “recommend piece” of substances is turning into quite common with out actually understanding why one wants that exact piece of equipment. It is crucial to perceive your instruments as a lot as doable, particularly since each instrument contributes tremendously to your craft. This not solely ensures that you’re in a position to movie these once-in-a-lifetime moments, nevertheless it additionally ensures that you’ve got an pleasant time in the method.


Sripad is a Director of Pictures/ Cinematographer who has labored in the wildlife documentary and digital advert area for over eight years. He has shot for manufacturers corresponding to Nationwide Geographic, Animal Planet, and Netflix. Sripad loves exploring digital camera know-how, new mediums of filmmaking, and storytelling.

If you want to work together with Sripad, you possibly can go to his Instagram web page @sripadsridhar. To discover his work, you possibly can go to sripadsridhar.com, or electronic mail him at [email protected]


This sequence is an initiative by the Nature Conservation Basis (NCF), beneath their programme ‘Nature Communications’ to encourage nature content material in all Indian languages. To know extra about birds and nature, Be part of The Flock.






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