Recently, acclaimed cinematographer and founder of Creative Head Productions, Anthony Littlechild, was commissioned by Mezzanine Films to handle the filming for Photo Number 6, an innovative new travel show for Australia’s Network Ten. It was clear to Littlechild, when briefed, that this was a show where the choice of camera was going to be critical. He decided on an ARRI AMIRA.
Littlechild explained, “Shooting a travel show I knew I needed a versatile camera, something that could do everything I needed, but quickly. However it also needed to help me maintain a high image quality, making this show not only about travel but making it as cinematic as possible considering the production’s circumstances. Fast, efficient and cinematic were the big things I was going for on this show and the AMIRA ticked all of those boxes.”
On Photo Number 6 host Alan Fletcher is a photographer on a quest each episode to capture photos that sum up his experiences. At the end of each episode he reviews five of the best photos he takes and chooses one to become Photo Number 6. That photo in turn represents everything he’s experienced about the destination’s culture, people and geography.
Littlechild continued, “It was a show that had many complexities when shooting and the AMIRA handled them all. Firstly its in-built ND filters were a huge plus as there was no time to change normal filters, nor was it possible sometimes. Also having two memory card slots allowed us to shoot nearly all day without having to worry about changing cards and data wrangling on the go. The high speed on the AMIRA is breathtaking and being able to shoot 2K 200fps without any quality loss is excellent. Some cameras get noisy when you go down on resolution but 200fps looks crisp, clear and sharp on the AMIRA which was vital in the overlay of the show when capturing those extra special moments. Honestly it felt like I had an ALEXA set up for documentary, and shooting ARRI log everywhere I went made me feel very much at ease.”
Littlechild says he was seriously impressed with the quality and flexibility of the AMIRA, a view he found he shared with many others on the show.
He added, “This camera produces images superior to most cameras on the market but with the added versatility to move around the globe in some extreme conditions. Something else I loved was the simple fact that the camera is specifically built to withstand extreme conditions. Most cameras have the fans on the top but the AMIRA has fans on the sides so when I was in the snow and it was falling all over the crew and the camera, we were still able to roll knowing the camera would be fine.”
Littlechild used his AMIRA in a variety of ways on Photo Number 6. In Block 1 of the shoot it was on a rig and for the bulk of Block 2 on a tripod.
He added, “The AMIRA was easy to manage on the easy rig 3 as the top handle slides back and forth for weight distribution making that quite simple. For Block 2 I wanted to make the shots more fluid and smoother hence using a tripod. Pairing the AMIRA with the big 17-120 Canon Cine Zoom made it quite a large setup however it was never a problem.”
To say Littlechild shot the world for Photo Number 6 is no understatement with the crew having to deal with sub-zero temperatures, snow, mountains, glaciers, hills, cliffs and vast landscapes in Iceland to the deserts of Sahara and Namibia to extreme close-ups of wild animals in South Africa. He also shot the Scottish countryside, the hustle, bustle and inner city chaos of London, 45-plus degree weather in rural California and along Australia’s great ocean road in Victoria, amongst many other destinations.
Littlechild continued, “Basically, this camera has been everywhere and we shot extremely wide and close in every location. Super slow motion was captured wherever possible and the fact that the AMIRA has exceptional quality in usual frame rates and slow motion was a huge positive. Each episode was shot in a different city, town and country but the common factor was that the conditions were never easy. The AMIRA being such a complete camera and not needing too many additional accessories helped me a lot.”
Apart from owning an ARRI AMIRA Littlechild also owns many other cameras. Shooting Photo Number 6 gave him a chance to compare his inventory as he explained and concluded, “It’s easy for me to compare the AMIRA to my other cameras and for this shoot there was no camera better suited for the job. It felt like the AMIRA was made for it. I loved it and the show couldn’t have been shot on any other camera. It’s just so versatile with all its ports, plugs and switches so easily accessible. If I needed to switch from 25 to 50 frames it’s a switch that could happen instantly. If we got into a dark situation I could click from 800 to 1600 ISO in a second, with no menus needed if it had been preset. That was huge for me. The AMIRA gave me a true cinema camera that was manageable and easy to use in a documentary style situation and it performed well beyond my expectations.”