After shooting documentaries, coming back to edit is often full of wishes for a wider variety of shots even though the reality is that you were challenged with a small crew, full-shot days and a tight budget. Recently, MK3 traveled to Singapore to shoot a documentary on the operations of OCBC Bank and to Heathrow Airport outside London to shoot behind-the-scenes operations.  Using some unique methods, MK3, however, is able to escape this classic issue.

With only two days of shooting on each project, our small crew consisted of a director, videographer and gaffer, who were faced with the challenge of moving quickly while maximizing the look of the piece.  They used one camera to shoot the talking-head interviews, a Panasonic AF-100 with interchangeable lenses.   Medium-close-up shots of the subjects and a hard-wired lav placed out of frame eliminated the need for a designated audio technician, keeping production costs down.

For the b-roll our crew used two DSLR cameras simultaneously: a Canon 5D Mark II with a 70-200mm lens and a Canon 7D with a 10-22mm slightly distorted wide-angle lens. Using both cameras at the same time, our crew captured both tight and wide shots, meaning in post-production we had both quantity and quality when selecting shots for the piece.  DSLRs work well in low light and are very unobtrusive, reducing the intimidation factor of big body cameras.

Although advantageous, shooting b-roll footage simultaneously on two cameras can be difficult to coordinate.  To be effective, crew members must be in sync and not get in one another’s way.  For example, the shoot at Heathrow International Airport required a shot of a plane refueling.  Our director, Adam, shot a wide-angle shot of the fuel truck and plane in the background while our videographer, Pat, captured a close-up of the fuel nozzle going into the plane… two nice shots without missing any action.  To do so, they had to be sure to stay out of the other’s frame but, having worked together on many projects, Adam and Pat now have an unspoken way to simultaneously cover b-roll shooting with ease.

MK3’s unorthodox use of three cameras to shoot documentaries gives more choices in editing, low production costs and highly polished finished product.

That’s killer combination, if you ask us.