The Republic of Palau continues to provide great opportunities for Media Production. I would like to share some of the highlights from the past year and our hopes for the future.
New media techniques and projects in Palau
Over the last 12 months we have continued to diversify our filming techniques. Aerial filming with Drones and Aircraft mounted action cams have provided great footage for our clients.
Exciting 6K B-roll from Time-lapse techniques have also added to production value.
We have embraced 360 VR and continue to develop this new and exciting form of media. Mosaic panoramas provide a new and artistic form in addition to producing very high resolution images for printing.
Underwater filming in Palau is still incredible. New behaviors and environments were documented in greater detail this past year. Our cameras can output 4K Raw footage. This means we get the very best colors possible in UHD.
Wildlife and conservation topics are still very close to our hearts. A large project on migratory shorebirds was completed in the Autumn. This milestone project raised local awareness for the need to protect certain coastal environments in Palau.
Plastic Pollution is an incredibly damaging aspect of our world in this century. This film was our first venture into raising awareness of this issue
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your continued support into 2018.
Together we can make Lightning Strike Productions grow further and provide more innovative and educational media for Palau and Micronesia.
Location scouting for a new project: Over the first two weeks of June I was commissioned to find locations that fit in with a storyboard for a production due to be shot here for the Palau Visitors Authority.
I can’t divulge many details about the plot line right now of course only to say that it will be a tourism educational film to be shown on flights into Palau.
Filming took 6 days with crews from the US and Australia including local entities with a team from Lightning Strike providing Aerial Drone, Underwater and Behind the Scenes filming services.
Telling the story
Part of the storyboard has an Aerial pov, so I was happy to oblige with a few days of drone flying at some of the most photogenic sites in Palau.
This major production is now in the editing stage with the release date to be confirmed. When it is released it is going to cause a real stir as it will be the first of it’s kind. Watch this space and be sure to check back to see it’s progress!
Now that production is finished and the campaign has been rolled out, check this link to find out more about the Palau Pledge and see the finished film.
If you have a project in mind that needs locations in Palau check out these links.
Please feel free to contact us and we can discuss plans for pre-Production.
Lightning Strikes was called upon to provide location advice and be second camera for a cinematic documentary being shot in Palau. The best RED 6K cameras were used for this large budget shoot in Palau.
To provide amazing footage of Mantas we went up north to film them aggregating in the northern channels. This is part of their annual migration that occurs at this time of year.
Make it a RED camera Palau
We have been using a RED Epic Dragon with the Arri 8mm prime lens on front for the widest, closest images possible and we were not disappointed.
Late in the day we had Manta barrel feeding in shallow water surrounded by huge schools of fish that reacted in explosive and dramatic fashion as the mantas looped through them.
This footage may well end up in the finish documentary or could find it’s way into other productions. Either way, the 6K sensor from the RED provides incredible Raw footage from this day and many others we have been filming throughout this shoot.
Over the last few months I’ve been diving with Dari Dive Palau. Together we are planning on showing all the cool fish, sharks and mantas at new locations they know. They asked me to put together a short film of the regular features such as the spawning dives, aggregations, Blue Corner, Blue Holes, German Channel etc to begin with, which you can see here:
I have found Dari Divers to be particularly good. Apart from offering Nitrox, great lunches and taking small groups to the best sites, I’m finding that they have a deep understanding of the timing of natural events. This rich knowledge enables them to put their divers in the water at exactly the right time on the right day to witness nature at it’s best.
See another film I produced on another trip with them here.
After diving at a professional level for close to 20 years, in a wide variety of locations and shops around the world, I hope I can say that I have a reasonable amount of experience in the business of recreational diving. Many shops are very busy always running at 150% (great for business/bad for customer satisfaction), some cut corners and the customers are left with substandard guides, poor rental equipment, boats that break down etc. It’s a fine blend of personal attention and the excitement of discovery and adventure that for me makes Dari Divers stand out for a great diving experience in Palau.
Making the film
All the underwater stuff is shot on the Canon 5D3 running Magic Lantern capable of outputting 4K Raw footage. For more info on this set up see this post
Aerials were shot using the DJI Inspire 1, hand launched and caught from the bow of the boat during the surface intervals.
For the editing I looked at a different aspect ratio this time. 2.35:1 instead of the usual 16:9 to see how it holds up over time and initially I like the look. To me it makes the screen bigger even though it’s actually smaller…..
Let me know in the comments section below what you think to the film and whether or not the 2.35:1 ratio works for this sort of thing.
Watch out for new media coming from this new collaboration as well as views from new as yet undisclosed sites around Palau.
I’ve been a Media Producer in various guises in Palau for 10 years now, initially as an underwater cameraman with a little bit of topside work thrown in, then diversifying into Time-lapse, run n’ gun, aerials (drone and aircraft), interviews etc.
Palau has changed a lot in those 10 years and this has made me change with it.
Here are 10 things (actually 11) I’ve learned about Media Production in that time:
So many cameras
Now more than ever people have cameras, as a dedicated cameraman I’m being squeezed by the ready availability of cameras. Everyone over the age of 5 seems to have one (gross over generalization, I know). So now more than ever I have to be inventive with my imaging, flexibility and the old cliche of thinking outside the box are more important than ever before. Don’t be afraid to try new techniques, think about a sequence or image you want to acquire, no matter how crazy or impossible it first appears to be, then work out how to do it. Dare to be different.
As international media productions go, the first Survivor Palau was big. It needed location scouts, fixer services, permits, talent, crew, camera assets, camera rentals, customs clearence, vehicles, accomodations…. All things the production team needed to know about BEFORE they got off the plane for the production shoot.
Even small scale productions need these things so it’s important to not underestimate the value of a local fixer.
This is where having an experienced and well connected local crew can save you time and money, ensuring you get what you need to deliver your project on budget and on time.
Remove the stress of production
A location shoot doesn’t have to be stressful, it shouldn’t be stressful if you have done your research and found the right guys on the ground to get things done for you. If things for whatever reason don’t pan out, and sometimes no amount of research will stop it, it’s good to have people there that are focused and can still deliver if the Gods of fate are not smiling.
Pooling your resources is important. Having what you need a phone call away is something that only a well connected and experienced fixer can provide. After all, it’s not what you know it’s who you know. No amount of years filming for this or that company will enable you to get an interview with the President or find you the village elder that can deliver the story clinching quotes.
Get the best fixer services with the Lightning Strike Team in Palau
Lightning Strike Media Productions has at it’s disposal an accumilation of decades of media production, journalism and living in Palau experience. If you are a Producer, DP, camaraman or one man production unit, you should let us help you realise your production goals. We work closely with the Government and NGOs on a variety of projects so have great contacts and experience where it matters. No other company can provide the same level of fixer services in Palau. See this post for more information.
Our clients have included Discovery Channel, ABC Australia, CNN, Arte, ZDF, Al Jazeera Economist magazine and the BBC along with numerous ad agencies and independant producers.
Palau’s northernmost island Ngurangel and it’s southernmost Helen Reef are separated by little over 400 miles of island peppered ocean but are remarkably similar. Both are low lying sandy features surrounded by huge atoll reefs which makes them a haven for both marine and bird life. Their isolation is what makes them so special.
Helen reef is a long thin spit of land, sparsely vegetated. It has a resident population of 4 rangers, 3 dogs and about 5000 sea birds. The rangers have their own accommodations and keep an eye out for illegal fishing activities. It lies closer to Indonesia than it does Palau’s capital Koror.