ANTARCTICA, APRIL 14, 2016 — When cinematographer Pieter de Vries, ACS, sailed from Chile to Antarctica for Aurora Expeditions’ Antarctica Photography Expedition, he made sure to pack his AIR Carbon Fibre Systemfrom Miller Camera Support Equipment, a leader in the production of innovating camera support solutions. It was during this expedition that de Vries was able to not only take extraordinary still shots and video footage of local wildlife, but to also introduce a whole new community to the exceptional, fluid movements that his AIR system provides.
Travelling as a cinematography lecturer, de Vries mentored the 54 guests on board the ship, encouraging them to incorporate video with their still photography as an introduction to the world of cinematography. He discovered that many of the guests, who were mostly amateur photographers using DSLR cameras, weren’t properly equipped with the right camera support solution for shooting video. This gave de Vries a prime opportunity to introduce the accurate pan and tilts of his Miller fluid head to a new audience.
“When it comes to the Miller AIR Carbon Fibre System, the first thing I noticed was the amount of precision built into it,” says de Vries. “You just don’t get those fluid movements in many other lightweight tripods. The types of tripods some guests used definitely affected their work. There was no way they could achieve accurate movements.”
For de Vries, shooting video is second nature. “I’ve been shooting motion images all my life,” he continues. “But for guests, it’s a revelation that it could be so easy to shoot video. They don’t know how to do things like transition from the water and reveal a beautiful snow-capped mountain. They say, ‘Oh I would never get smooth pans like that with my current setup.’ I put the AIR system up and I invite them to move it around. Then they think ‘Wow! This is what it’s like shooting video. That’s amazing.’”
The pans and tilts were not the only attributes that made de Vries choose Miller. Working on a ship that’s in constant motion and under the regular threat of heavy winds forced de Vries to make use of the wide base the carbon fibre legs afforded him, allowing him to anchor the entire system and avoid potentially dangerous situations with his lightweight setup.
That wide-base spread also let de Vries maintain a low angle perspective when on more solid ground and capture some rare and amazing wildlife shots. “When working with animals, especially in a place like South Georgia and Antarctica, you don’t want to be looking down on them. You’re missing out on a whole world that you simply don’t see at eye height because you’re looking down on dirt or rock. Cinematographers like to see past the main subject they are shooting, in my case, a penguin, so they can see the other 250,000 behind them. There are not many tripods that have the ability to go low without compromising any of the precision, but my AIR system does flawlessly.”
Overall, de Vries appreciates that he can simply set up his system and start shooting. “With the AIR, you are able to set up and and shoot in a few seconds. I don’t like using tripod systems that require me to constantly make allowances for imprecision due to bumps or its cheap design. So to me, when I push that button to record, I’m in that moment. It’s like I’m sitting in the cinema watching it on the big screen. If I’m thinking about my camera setup, then I am no longer sitting in the cinema enjoying the shot.”
Miller’s AIR Fluid Head is ideal for both experienced and new videographers. It features a payload range from 2-5 kg (4.4-11 lbs), a two-position counterbalance system and caliper disc brakes. Weighing 1.4 kg (3.1 lbs), it is perfect for any run-and-gun application. The 75mm mounting with bubble level and quick-release, sliding camera plate allow for very fast setups.
Pieter de Vries is a freelance cinematographer who shoots mainly documentary series for broadcasters such as National Geographic, Discovery, ABC and the BBC. To learn more about de Vries and his work, visit www.pieterdevries.com.au
About Miller Camera Support Equipment
Founded in 1954, Miller Camera Support Equipment designs and manufactures professional fluid heads and tripods in Australia and delivers to the film and television industry, providing support for the world’s leading camera operators. Celebrating over sixty years in the industry, Miller is a longtime, global leader in the field of contemporary camera support and holds the first patent for fluid head design for film cameras, which it obtained in 1946. Today, Miller’s tripod and camera support systems are frequently used during electronic news gatherings (ENG), electronic field production (EFP), and digital video applications by the world’s leading networks, production houses, corporate, educational and government institutions in more than 65 countries. For more information, call +61 2 9439 6377 or visit www.millertripods.com.