July 21, 2014

Check out the Customized Camera Rigs Used by VICE News as They Travel the World

Canon cameras might not get a whole lot of love these days (especially in the comments on our site), but the truth is that the C300 (which is now cheaper than ever) might just be one of the best documentary-style cameras around because of its tremendous versatility and low-light ability. Nowhere is this versatility more apparent than in the hands of the cinematographers of VICE News, one of the more engaging journalistic outfits around today. Their travels, and dare I say adventures, have taken them twice the world over as they've captured footage from every major international conflict in recent memory. In a recent collaboration with Canon, VICE DPs Jake Burghart and Jerry Ricciotti shared the standard VICE camera package, as well as their unique camera rigs that allow them to be ready to shoot at a moment's notice.

First, here's a quick and recent example of VICE video-journalism from the ongoing quagmire that is the Israel/Palestine conflict.

In this video, Burghart and Ricciotti share the standard camera package used by VICE DPs, as well as their customized C300 rigs that they regularly take into protests, war zones, and international conflicts of every shape and size.

It's interesting to note just how different these two rigs are in terms of their base components, yet the similarity they have in function. The fact that one is a traditional shoulder rig with some quick-release functionality for sizing down, while the other is essentially a baseplate with a versatile rosette arm, speaks to just how important it is to customize your camera rigs for your specific needs as a filmmaker (or journalist).

The pair of DPs also spent some time talking about their varying philosophies on gear storage. While Burghart prefers a traditional approach, with a well-organized Pelican case, Ricciotti uses a custom camera backpack that allows him to carry all or most of his gear comfortably, with important pieces of equipment available quickly from the top of the bag. Again both philosophies show the importance of finding a transportation and organization system that works for you and your specific shooting situations.

Be sure to check out the VICE News YouTube channel, as there is some absolutely top-notch documentary news content there.

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Your Comment

46 Comments

Big fan of most everything VICE do. Solid guys and great content.

July 21, 2014 at 4:21PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Yeah, now if they could just figure out how to pay their non executive employees more than peanuts....

July 21, 2014 at 10:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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xyz

Its sort of the equivalent of working on Capitol Hill but in the media world; you're most likely doing it for the name recognition and networking opportunities rather than money, and will eventually leverage it to get something more reasonable elsewhere in the industry.

July 22, 2014 at 8:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Swissted

No offense to VICE - I applaud their determination, their bravery and their angle of reporting edgy news.
But their journalism is amateuristic at best! These guys are just sensationalizing danger. Their other pieces are not much better. Did we actually learn anything in this piece aside from that he doesn't know what's going on? Also how about doing a piece from the other side of this "conflict".

July 22, 2014 at 5:22AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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RobW

I disagree with you. The above clip was from July 18th ... it's not so much a documentary as its a field report from an ongoing situation. I thought they did a good job of establishing what they know (not very much beyond troop movement they see) as well as some opinions of civilians and soldiers of one of the sides. Seeing as there will be more entries into the series, I feel the above video did a good job of setting the stage for future reports.

That said, I encourage you to watch this series they did on an alternative school in Chicago.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLw613M86o5o6Aj8MXuh9GK5ZooRpLMGBp

Having worked in a similar filed as those in this series; I can say this is the most accurate portrayal of what working with at risk youth is really like. In fact, pretty much the entire Vice News YouTube channel is top notch journalism. They draw attention to often overlooked social issues without beating you over the head with their own ideologies.

July 22, 2014 at 7:57AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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CoolHandLuque

Most of the regular VICE is infuriatingly awful hipster trash. Truly cringe-worthy linkbait-y material.

VICE News, however, has enlisted the talents of some rather respected journalists and the quality really shows.

July 22, 2014 at 7:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Swissted

And yet they can't figure out how to set proper exposure.

July 21, 2014 at 4:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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JMR

It's easy to make snarky comments, but not so easy to do what they do.

July 21, 2014 at 5:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Chad

Chad +1

July 21, 2014 at 6:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Love to see some of your perfectly exposed embedded journalism work, link?

July 21, 2014 at 6:21PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tom

Maybe you can't figure out how to calibrate your monitor.

July 21, 2014 at 7:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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adam

I love their rigs! Huge inspiration for my upcoming upgrade (all though it's for a DSLR). Super jealous of the C300 hand grip with iris, record and punch-in!

July 21, 2014 at 4:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Olof

You'd think that with the popularity of the C300, other camera manufacturers would get on board with style of ergonomics. But instead, we get Panasonic, Sony, and Blackmagic all releasing cameras that have superior video and weak ergonomics. Then we all wonder why so many pros stick with Canon?

July 21, 2014 at 8:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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There's more money in the low-mid consumer stuff. For all their C-series units, Canon moves millions more of their Rebels and P&S cams and thus the related Canon accessories. That said, they hit a home run with C300. It's become almost a reference cam for any future products targeting the same niche of the market.

July 21, 2014 at 11:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

+1

July 24, 2014 at 6:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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In a news cycle where it's mostly pundits yapping, it's good to have a show that puts viewers in the trenches with what is happening on this planet.

Awesome to see the gear they are using. Can't wait to see what Canon does with 4k.

July 21, 2014 at 4:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Canon already did it with the 1DC and C500...

July 22, 2014 at 12:44AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Where can I find that canon handle? And is it possible to control the BMPC 4k with it?

July 21, 2014 at 6:57PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Niki

Nope it's Canon only lol

July 21, 2014 at 7:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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John Wu

The handle is part of the C300 they use, just detached and repositioned. Only works with the Canon EOS Cinema line

July 22, 2014 at 2:08AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Oh, thanks

July 23, 2014 at 2:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Niki

Is there anything similar to that handle?

July 23, 2014 at 6:42PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Niki

Awesome post. I've always wanted to know what they use for the show. I would occasionally pause it just to peek at what kind of set up they use when they catch each other in shot (which is surprisingly seldom) but never really got a good idea until now.

July 21, 2014 at 7:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ryan McCluskey

Great stuff, I liked his comment about using a follow-focus during a protest... But it shows how much the craft has evolved. The C300 (and C100 to an extent) is one of the most undervalued cameras today as it doesn't do much on paper, but it proves again and again that it's the ultimate documentary camera. Their rigs are amazing, thanks for sharing on this post!

In these difficult times, it's very hard to follow the news, they can prove to be quite unreliable when covering conflicts. I always prefer a documentary piece, way better quality and content than the news. The news shouts "45 people killed! Okay, we'll now go to the international flower show.." in a very "fast food" way. A documentary says "45 killed, now let's talk to some people, we have time, we're not covering the flower show." And I don't know if anyone will agree but doing a documentary can make one less biased, especially with long shots since the easiest way to lie is by editing.

July 21, 2014 at 8:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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MI

As a former photojournalist I have a deep respect for how they tell these very dangerous stories.

July 21, 2014 at 11:57PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Love the work that these guys do. Was really interesting to see how they configure their gear.
I'm not in the industry but I do follow it closely. A question has been bugging me for a while; what is a DP?
As far as I can see its a term that comes from the narrative and larger doc world referring to the person heading up the camera department of a production. I'm not saying for a second these guys should not be using the title, just wondering what is means in this instance when you have two guys working together. Can they both be the director of photography? Does it make sense when you are working alone? It seems now that every man and his dog use the title. For example, the guy over at HD Warrior who shoots low end web content and a bit of news calls himself a DP. Of course you can call yourself whatever you like, just curious to hear what others interpret DP to mean these days.

July 22, 2014 at 2:49AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Observer

We don't take away a title of DP or Cinematographer from someone just because they're doing what you feel is low end content. With that said, you're right that DP is a bit of a misnomer in this case. Usually it is just one person, but I'm sure in this case they're using it to sub for cameraman, because these guys are often times more than just people behind a camera.

July 22, 2014 at 3:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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hassenfeffer

all right! Jake never mentioned what rig he's using

so its a
zacuto follow focus
the top handle is Movcam
baseplate looks and must be the studio baseplate from zacuto
but does anyone know what arms, left handle and rods he's using?

July 22, 2014 at 8:37AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Perrona

I've got that same backpack.

It works great for me, and I haven't experienced any problems with it yet.

July 22, 2014 at 1:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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what's the brand and model? thanks in advance

July 23, 2014 at 2:19PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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D

The backpack looks like a gray version of this one:

http://goincase.com/shop/incase-dslr-pro-pack

July 24, 2014 at 5:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I recently ran into vice shooting in my town(lewes UK) their c300 rig was just an absolutely huge cage with loads of empty space and a tiny c300 in the middle.

July 22, 2014 at 4:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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IGIGIWA BIRD

I would like to know, is the 24-105mm f/2 just an incorrect listing or is that something Canon tailor made for Vice? I can't seem to find any version of the 24-105 that stops up to f/2. Am I missing something?

July 22, 2014 at 7:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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hassenfeffer

I'm sure it's just a typo.

July 22, 2014 at 10:29PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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dembek

yeah this seemed like too good to be freaking true! i wish they had that lens under 2.8! that would be the best lens in the whole wide world

August 8, 2014 at 12:02AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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jay

Great shooting rigs. Now if only someone could re-edit that piece and make it... less cringe inducing.

July 22, 2014 at 7:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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FabDex

Where did you get those photos with the info on products? looks like there are a few ones in that series other then the 2 your showing.

July 23, 2014 at 10:00AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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If you're using chrome you can right click on any image and select "Search Google for this image". It's come from a Canon page about it.
http://cinemaeos.usa.canon.com/kittedsolutions/c300/

August 7, 2014 at 10:34PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ian

That's something i call interesting stuff .....

July 23, 2014 at 3:30PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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What kind of backpack is that?

July 23, 2014 at 4:15PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Zodiac

The backpack looks like a gray version of this one:

http://goincase.com/shop/incase-dslr-pro-pack

July 24, 2014 at 5:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I suppose you could call VICE "journalism"... extraordinarily subjective and biased, but journalism none-the-less.

July 25, 2014 at 4:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I just noticed the a Canon 24-105 f/2.8 is listed with the first set up. Was that a typo or is there a lens out there like that?

August 4, 2014 at 10:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Zane Olson

Ok first off, I like Vice News. Was able to tap into the content since Beta and its quite consistently good. Makes me wanna work for them for sure. However They can't say they been doing doc stuff for 10 years. Vice early stuff as said before was very amateurish (naturally as they were developing pretty much from ground up) however often also very much anti-journalistic (paying off mass murderers to get out of prison for an interview). I'm just saying they can't say that entirely proud and with a head-held high. They made some mistakes in past and turned it around.

Now to the gear, very interesting, great to have a detailed look at it. Al Jazeera English' was almost same till few months back, despite shooting on Mk2 or Mk3 as main cam. Now afaik they prefer Sony F5s, the reason being you can get serious PL lenses with incredible ranges and good f-stops. This avoids having to change lenses in field which is main reason why I (was) weary of getting a C300/100/500 for serious Doc work. But I now most likely am anyway. Peli case in the wild seems like madness, i think backpack is the way to go if its not too heavy and can act as good balance for camera weight.

One more thing to add, I'd say to everyone get this focus-follow arm instead. Seems like a real genius thing, better than pulling with your other arm... http://www.zacutoimages.com/p434102118/e26d4f155

August 8, 2014 at 8:19AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Pat

Anyone know what grip relocater is being used with the rosettes ?

August 12, 2014 at 4:34PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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ALEX

I would like to know what this is too..

August 17, 2014 at 2:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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