Like all industries being a cameraman doesn’t go unaffected from the new reality we are all living in. Even if you are in a small country like New Zealand at the end of the world.
While I’m writing this we are still in level 3. A huge amount of uncertainty is in the air and things in our industry are still as far from normal as anyone could have imagined only a couple of months ago.
Talking to friends, colleagues and industry people about work is not an easy topic. With the announcement of possible measures around Covid19 in New Zealand back in March, all work started suddenly to grind to a halt. And after lockdown the prospect of any work whatsoever for most is very slim.
Our industry is definitely not going to be the same again not for months, but possibly for years to come. But one thing I think is for sure. We are heading in to different times and we will all have to adapt in order to survive the new norm. Social distancing will not allow large crews for some time so I believe that the more tasks an operator can take on, the more they will be sought after.
Working under Level 4
I was very lucky to work with the team at Sunpix Post during Level 4 and Level 3. We produced Pacific oriented, informative content for the Ministry for Pacific Peoples, hence an essential service and allowed under lockdown. But things were far from being business-as-usual.
Social distancing between the very limited crew and talent. The ways we collaborate with pre-production and post. Everything is a new experience. Editors working from home accessing footage remotely. No fancy locations. Or no locations at all I should say! So the all time classic green screen was the go-to solution to every problem. Communicating via Facebook messenger, email and whatever works on an empty set. In general, we had to be safe, flexible and at the same time make sure the final product is of high standard.
The learnings that came out of this process are massive. On the shooting side, I have had to learn how to expose a big range of different skin tones against a green screen. Either to match a given background, plus try to minimize the differences between them. How to upload and manage footage on the fly, as no DIT, assistant or other person is allowed on set. Adding to that, loading the autocue with scripts and doing most of the on set tasks. And last but not least, the challenging issue of sound. Of course there is no mic’ing anyone with lapel mics. The only safe sound capture device is a fixed boom mic.
And all of the above while making sure we stay at least 2m from everyone and most of the time behind a mask.
After the shoot day
But the Level 4 shoot day didn’t finish after the last footage had been delivered. The pack down also entailed the process of every little piece of gear being cleaned and disinfected. A lengthy process, but in the grand scheme of things a small price to pay in order to ensure everyone is working in a safe environment.
Now in Level 3 and close to moving to Level 2, things are starting to feel a bit normal again. Only the uncertainty of the future still remains and will be with us for a long time it seems. The way I see it, living through such a major historical event and only coming out with reduced income is the least we can ask for.
Stay safe everyone. Looking forward to making a post-covid recovery blog post very soon!