Dubai 24 Hour Car Race

Shooting Partners made the front page of the well respected Producer Magazine this month with a shot from the Dubai Nissan 24 hour race.

Working closely with producer Nigel Swan and camera operator Nick Payne, Shooting Partners provided High Definition Sony EX3 kit for the event which took place in Dubai earlier this year.

The Dubai 24 Hour race is one of the most exciting events in the motor racing calendar – eagerly anticipated by motoring enthusiasts as well as the car manufacturers who use the event as a launchpad for new car brands.

One such new car brand this year was the £400k Nissan Juke-R, with Nissan GB hiring experienced motoring videographer Nigel Swan and cameraman Nick Payne to cover Nissan’s promotional activities in Dubai. Payne took a PMW-EX3 from Shooting Partners for the job of supplying on board and B-roll footage of all the Nissan cars out in Dubai.

Sony usability

The shoot required a versatile and light all rounder capable of producing high quality 1080 50i images in a wide range of shooting situations. Says Nigel Swan: “We use the EX3 for most of our car shoots because the high quality is really good and we get really positive feed back from our cameramen who like it because of its usability. In particular, the quality of the viewfinder and focus ring, which is much better than you tend to find on other equivalent camcorders.”

“We used it for race track shots of cornering, interview set ups where we provided a camera crew for international online journalists wanting to do pieces to camera, and mounted it on vehicles to do rear tracking, front tracking and side tracking shots of the cars.”

Reliable and durable

“With a suction mount secured to the outside of the car we were able to mount the EX3 on the outside for some really dynamic car-to-car stuff,” enthuses Swan.

Another benefit of the EX3 was its reliability shooting “dune bashing”, where the Nissan Patrol 4x4s were tested at speed off road through the desert. “With all the sand and heat we were really concerned that dust would get in the camera and mess up rest of shoot –there was no spare budget for an extra camera,” says Swan. “So we simply put the rain cover on the EX3 and the camera proved to be perfectly reliable and we got some beautiful stuff.”

Nick Payne declares: “The EX3 performed brilliantly. We used it handheld and on a tripod in the desert, with 4x4s flying past and showering us in sand. But the EX3 didn’t seem to mind – it never missed a beat.”

He adds that another big benefit was the size of the camera. “It’s so compact that it was easy to get it to Dubai and it was easy to move around in the city. We filmed constantly for 12-14 hours a day for ten days and it never faltered, even at 35 degrees during a freak January Dubai heat wave. Moving from hot exteriors to air conditioned interiors there was no problem with condensation – one of the benefits of shooting using camera’s file based SxS workflow.

“The images generated from the camcorder’s 3×1/2 inch CMOS sensor stood up up well, producing crisp and clear images. I like the fact that it’s absolutely pin sharp, which was what the client wanted on this job; 1080 50i content.But I have used it to shoot at 25P for a more a more filmic look. Either way it produces stunning results.”

Fast SxS workflows

Speed of delivery to the client was another reason for using the SxS workflow, with Payne shooting material onto 16 and 32GB SxS media at 35Mb/s, loading the raw footage onto MacBookPro using an SxS card reader. Swan then logged the material, transcoded it to ProRes 422 for editing, graded it where necessary and then delivery rapidly to the client by uploading to an FTP site.

Camera features which Payne found really useful in Dubai included the flip up eyepiece, enabling him to use the LCD display, which came into its own when shooting high

speed tracking shots.

The camera’s image stabilisation feature also proved its worth when taking on board tracking shots, says Payne. “We were able to create a really stable platform when shooting from the back of a vehicle with the EX3’s image stabilization producing a smoother image. Swan adds: “We have done car-to-car filming before on DSLRs and found that even minor vibrations get picked up – the EX3’s optical image stabilization function solves that problem.”

In addition to producing synced audio, which was vital in speeding up the post production process, one feature which all cameramen love is the camera’s responsive focus ring. Nick Payne is no exception. “Spin the zoom ring on some camcorders and there is a lag, which is a problem if you are filming cars travelling at 200mph! In these shooting situations you really need a responsive zoom ring. In my opinion the EX3 has the best zoom ring on the market on that size of camera.”

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