Shooting with a Sound Blimp

Hi Andreas,

as you know I am currently working as the stills photographer (or 'set photographer', or 'unit photographer') for the German movie production "Ludwig II" in Bavaria, Germany. I usually shoot stills for one big movie production every year. I like this kind of work for many reasons, one being the continuous employment for a few month, 4 in this case. The chance to take great pictures with great acting talents and DPs (or DOP, director of photography) is another one. Our DP is Christian Berger who has been nominated for an Oscar for his camera work for "White Ribbon". He also developed his own movie light system, more on that here in a later post.
I shot stills for about 20 movie productions over the years but never used a sound blimp. I hated it. The weight, the look (yes, the look), the 'not being in touch with my camera', the complicated way of working with this monster.
Well, I am finally growing up. I ordered a sound blimp from the only real source, Mark Jacobson in California. First I got one with a tube for the Nikkor 28-70 2.8 and it took only a few days until I ordered another tube (in picture above) for the Nikkor 70-200 2.8, and my life on set changed forever. It is pure joy to click away while the filming of a scene is going on, not having to wait for another and yet another take to have the actors pose for my shot. Which I still do at times when necessary. The weight of the blimp is a problem, so is the handling of my camera. Every time I want to reset the focus point (the blimp is connected to the camera via cable and has two buttons, one for auto focus, one for shutter release) or change the shutter speed and/or f-stop I have to open the blimp. But after a few weeks working with it now I am very quick with that and it doesn't bother me anymore, the rewards are bigger than the problems. The obvious downside of not having a blimp are: No shooting during filming of the movie because of the shutter/mirror noise my Nikons make. And boy, these Nikons are noisy. Canons are quiet like a mouse in comparison !! Are you listening Nikon ? Hello ? But hey, I am a Nikon man and nothing will change that. Not now anyway.
My blimp version holds either one of my cameras, the D700 or the D3. I choose the D700 because of the weight and it is a little less noisy than the D3 to beginn with.
I wish I could show you some of the pictures I am taking, but they are not released for publication yet. We will have to be patient until the movie will be released by Warner Bros next year.
(Photo by Ecki Kuchenbecker)
Sound Blimp website: http://www.soundblimp.com/

Posted by Stefan Falke

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