How to Shoot in the Middle of Nowhere—Without Power
How do you manage your gear in one of the most remote corners of the world?
When we started our passion project, we truly didn't think about the fact that it might align with companies or brands who were attracted to our style of storytelling, and might want us to create similar projects for them. To be honest, I'm not sure how one of the co-founders of DJI saw our project, but I was told it was sent his way, and that when he saw it, their team was asked to contact us and get the process started.
We had no access to a solid power source.
Our team at Foster Visuals recently had the chance to travel to Patagonia to tell the story of Mr. Riel, a gaucho who lives in the middle of the mountains in Chile, very close to the border of Argentina. It took almost a year, and we pitched several ideas before we landed on this story, which is told in a manner similar to that of our passion project. It was a win-win for us and DJI both; we all agreed that telling the story of one of the most remotely isolated gauchos in Patagonia was the right project to pursue as the first in a new series DJI was releasing, called DJI WORLD.
My teammates Preston Kanak, Pawel Dwulit, Tammy Foster and I all began planning alongside our fixer Max Cruz for the adventure to come.
Batteries and data
From the time we left our car and got onto the horses, we had no access to a solid power source. We carried a Goal Zero Yeti 400 with us for some solar charging, but with the cloudy conditions, we knew this wouldn’t be something we could rely on for an extended period of time to charge all our batteries and keep our laptops going.
We brought a ton of batteries with us on this trip to make sure we were well covered. It made flying a pain in the butt, but we wanted to be sure we were going to have enough power on site throughout the trip. In total, approximately 15 Sony BP-U60’s, 20 Osmo batteries, 15 Inspire batteries, 4 Switronix V-Mounts, and a dozen or so DSLR batteries for each still camera came along for the ride.
Every ounce of power needed to be dedicated to the back-up process.
In the end, with solar, we were able to charge about 20 Osmo batteries as well as a couple laptops through the Yeti, but we approached the trip with the idea we would have no access to power whatsoever.
Typically, when we’re filming, each night we have the chance to download and review footage and start to put together a rough cut. This time around, we were limited to downloading and backing up the footage to two drives. Every ounce of power needed to be dedicated to the backup process.
Our gear took a beating on the trip.
Our gear took a beating on the trip. In the first mile on horseback, one of the horses carrying some of my gear dropped my laptop, a monitor, and a ton of other gear. We were faced with rain every day, mud, river crossings, and tough terrain on the horses. Packing our gear into soft bags and duffles and putting in onto the horse was, unfortunately, the only option. We carried the main gear on our backs, but all of the support gear needed to be packed into bags which were tightly compressed for the horses to carry them. It made traveling and accessing gear super complicated until we got to Mr. Riel.
We relied on the Osmo a ton for the BTS parts of the film. It allowed us to film easily on horseback and stay relatively safe. Of course, drones were key throughout the trip to put into perspective just how isolated Mr. Riel is, and also to document the journey in and out on horseback to get to Mr. Riel.
- DJI Inspire with X5Raw
- DJI Osmo
- DJI Ronin
- DJI Focus
- Sony FS7
- Sony FS5
- Kessler TLS
- Odyssey 7Q+
- Mindshift Bag
- Goal Zero Yeti 400
- FStop Insert
- Benro Travel Video Tripod
- Nikon D810
- Sony A7RII
DJI had a couple rounds of revisions, but overall, the structure of the edit didn’t change much from version one to the final product. We also had creative control filming the project. We were already using DJI gear on all of our productions but were supplied with the X5Raw version of the Inspire, as well as Osmos, batteries, and an extra drone with X5 camera and a follow focus system. We were basically able to put a wish list together for what we believed were the right tools for the job, and that’s what we brought along with us.