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Filming ´RAGE´: A gimbal pushed to the limit with a 800mm lens

7/13/2016 ISO 1200 Magazine 0 Comments

This article, videos and images were published on Tim Sessler´s blog and reproduced with permission
For our latest project, "RAGE", we developed a completely new shooting technique and pushed the Freefly MōVI even further than we had before. While wide angle lenses are still mostly being used on gimbals, some operators might try a 50, 80 or maybe even a 100mm lens. To get a very compressed look and create a sense of close-up, yet distant and removed feeling, we shot this whole piece at a 800mm (35mm equivalent).


The idea for "RAGE" was to show a build-up from a busy city that is packed with people into an outburst of anger, frustration and violence, depicting a society that is spiraling out of control. Using both the 800mm in combination with the MōVI allowed for an entirely new look: compressing the space, bringing buildings even closer, which in turn creates a more claustrophobic feel but also increases the visibility of the atmosphere of a hot NYC day with heat waves blazing in the air.

We are used to seeing super long lens shots either locked down (panning on a tripod) or from a full-sized helicopter (using a Cineflex or Shotover) - but moving a camera on eye-level at that focal length hasn't really been done and adds a very dynamic quality with very pronounced parallaxes and super shallow depth of field to it.

The goal of the film was to stylize the imagery but to also always ground everything in reality by having it appear to be the viewpoint of a passive observer. Not only did this make for an interesting visual approach, but also added a silent commentary to the current violence, race and gun issues in the US.

We shot for one afternoon in NYC - in Brooklyn we were able to capture real people in distress, anger or even on a bad trip. Manhattan made for the perfect location to capture loads of people and a searingly hot concrete jungle.

The second part of the shoot focused on set-up shots of even further stylized violent acts: a man with a gun, people crying or yelling, a black youth shot to death on the streets of Brooklyn. Though even for the staged shots we wanted to keep a certain authenticity by keeping the actor's action very lose and allowing for a framing that wasn't perfect or too controlled, even purposefully framing very extremely on the borders of the frame.


Shooting at 2K Widescreen on the RED CF Weapon 6K on a 200mm lens gives a 3.9x crop factor which effectively turns a 200mm lens into a 779mm. While such a long focal length is certainly pushing the boundaries of the Freefly MōVI - shooting at 300fps helps to smooth out the footage and allows for a completely new look and style that works great straight out of the camera.

About Tim Sessler: a cinematographer and visual storyteller based in New York City. Let's Get Connected: | Vimeo 

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