May 26, 2015 at 12:43PM


Off to Méjico!

Hello there,

A couple friends and I are heading to Mexico to go shoot a surf documentary (film?) in July. We'll be in a group of 4, all in their early 20s from Brazil, and we'll be spending the month in Oaxaca (SW Mexico), where the scary Puerto Escondido wave is.

We all have had our experiences both shooting, editing and working on production for TV, but none of us has ever shot anything as “big” as this one Project, especially directing-wise.

The main subject of the doc is obviously the surfing. We'll team up with a couple pro surfers and local chargers and we'll mix some of us in between them to contextualize the story.

The other thing we'll focus on will be the travelling, which might sound cliché, but we do have some ideas on how to approach the theme. We'll look for the occasional landscape spots, road trips, local stories and eccentricities as well - that's what I'm most interested about considering it's a indigenous region, the culture is a rich subject itself.

We're also planning on doing some fishing (one of the guys is a fisherman) and a trip to Lagunas de Chacahua and Salina Cruz. Other than that, I'm sure there will be time for fun outside the shooting schedule, and am also aware of the possibility that's where I'll find the most amazing stories.

It is an independent movie so the cash is short and that’s what I’m most concerned about at the moment.


Cameras: We're thinking of taking 2 Canon 60Ds (which we already have) and all the L glass we got, some gopros, a MiniDV recorder for some artsy shots. We haven't chosen our main camera yet though, we're looking for a GH4 with the Speedbooster adapter to be able to use the glass we already have, yet get some 4k footage / 60FPS@ 1080p and even the 96fps possibility it offers.

Would this be a nice camera for on the run shooting? Mind you, the smaller the better as we don't know Mexico very well, but we wouldn't want to keep walking with a RED around the streets at night. lol

Other stuff: We've got audio (Zoom H5n + Rode VideoMic Pro + boom pole), support (Tripods, handles and a steadicam), memory cards and HDs, batteries, lighting and some filters.

I was thinking about getting a ND variable filter (Tiffen Vari ND) a shoulder rig (the 30$ one from amazon) and maybe a DIY or cheap slider to add production value and a External OVF to be able to see the what I'm shooting in bright daylight.


With budget in mind, would you consider the GH4 a good option for the doc?
Would you look for something much more expensive but that can shoot 120 or even 240fps?
Any accessories to recommend for this style of shooting?
Any tips about the place? Permits, general shooting guidelines, etc.
(We want to have legal issues by our side and not against us. Are mexican filming permits mandatory to deliver this kind of product? Has anyone ever applied for a permit in Mexico?)

Hoping to hear from you.

Best regards,


The GH4 should be a good fit, but make sure you do some test shoots with it before you shoot the real thing, as there is a learning curve to working with Micro 4/3 cameras and editing 4K footage. With the right settings the GH4 can look fantastic.

You also might want to check out the Vimeo GH4 group to see if there's anything you like or anything similar to what you want to do, and then contact the film-maker to find out what settings they used and if they have any advice.

May 26, 2015 at 2:58PM

Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer

Thanks for the tips, Guy. I'll shoot a pilot or a short movie to present the ideas and try and sell the documentary beforehand to a TV company here in Brazil, and I'll probably use the camera I end up buying.

I'm inclined towards the GH4 as I can't seem to find anything parallel in image quality for the price. With the closest one being the Sony A7s which costs twice the price.

May 26, 2015 at 3:26PM

JP Torres
Director of Photography

I bought mine last August and have been totally happy with the results I've been getting.

I am also looking forward to the release of the V-log firmware update in June, which should give the GH4 a couple extra stops of dynamic range.

May 29, 2015 at 5:24PM

Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer

Hey Guy, I finally bought the GH4 with the Metabones Speed Booster. Now I'm thinking of picking up a couple more lenses to add to the kit I already have. We'll be shooting 3 cameras most of the time, so I think there will be the need for a little overlap in focal lengths.

I'm thinking of buying a wide angle prime, an all-around zoom and a short tele lens.

I read the Rokinon 35mm T1.5 is a good choice since it will fit both the wide angle and short tele ends (25mm and 50mm FFE), though no autofocus for taking stills (sorry, can't help). There's also a couple native primes, like the 20mm f/1.7 and so.

I know having too many options is a great thing, but I'm pretty much clueless as of now about what lenses I should get.

Which ones would you recommend in this case?

Mind you, budget is always a concern, so the 35-100 and the 12-35 might be a little over it.

Thanks again!

June 8, 2015 at 4:48PM

JP Torres
Director of Photography

Your Comment