Alpha 1 for Filmmaking
by
Ian Nieuwenhuizen

When I got the call from Sony that they will be sending me the A1, I was in the middle of the Fx3 launch, so time was not on my side.
I was super excited, but I realized I would have to pull a rabbit out of a hat, because firstly this was not your average camera by any means, this was the A1, which was like a bombshell that dropped into the camera industry and created quite an uproar, and secondly, with so little time, the pressure was on.

With the time constraints I had no option to travel to a beautiful and exotic location in our country. South Africa really has some of the most magnificent areas that is rich in natural beauty, but where I live in Potchefstroom, although it has a beauty of its own as a quaint little university town, we don’t have any mountains or forests close by. The area is quite flat, it is surrounded by mines and farms, so that was what I realised we had to work with. I realised that if we could get the right storyline, we could use our area to our advantage.

Alpha 1 for Filmmaking

I met with my team and within a few hours we had to reach a decision in terms of the theme we wanted to opt for, and although quite ambitious for a 2-day project, we decided to shoot locally with a post-apocalyptic theme. Just a few months prior to our shoot, the old train station sadly burnt down, and I also had an idea of shooting at a lime mine close by that also posed some great potential for a post-apocalyptic vibe.

The biggest challenge with a post-apocalyptic theme is you must really create the look and feel accurately for it to be convincing at all. Set design and wardrobe would be key in our process. We had two days to shoot, Monday and Tuesday and by the Sunday afternoon we still had not secured our main location, which was starting to become a big problem. I decided to message an acquaintance of mine that I knew had a scrapyard with the hope that he would, firstly respond on a Sunday afternoon and secondly, I hoped that the scrapyard would work as I had no idea what it was like. He agreed and with high hopes my wife and I went to check it out and everything just fell into place from there. There was one corner in the area that was stacked with old Tv’s, and we immediately realised that with the right lighting we could create an amazing back drop to our story. As a collector of incredibly old and interesting things, the scrapyard owner even had a real meteorite that he was courteous enough to let us use, and I think that piece of rock added a little more believability to our storyline after all.

There is one confession I must make: I would never have been able to pull this off on my own. My team really came to the party. I gave my team members creative freedom to run with their portion of responsibility and every one of them went the extra mile and really used their own creativity and initiative as well. And that is honestly how we pulled of this project in 48 hours. Sometimes it takes hard work, effective teamwork, and a little bit of Divine intervention to push the boundaries of what you think is even possible.

The A1 was a dream – it was the perfect camera for this mammoth task. To just give you a summary of this camera: they took the best features of the Alpha range, on the photo side as well as on the video side, and put it in one camera body. It was my first time shooting 8k and specifically in this project, the fact that I could crop and punch in worked nicely. We had our actor running from a hill far in the background. We were really pressed for time, and we could only afford for him to run once toward the camera and decided to shoot in 8K. In post I had the luxury of having wide and a close-up option with only one shot.

When it comes to big opportunities in life, like this one -I have learnt to take the plunge and figure it out on the go. You are either going to sink or you’re going to swim, and more often times than not, I look back and can’t believe how things ‘just worked out’.

Ian Nieuwenhuizen

Ian Nieuwenhuizen

South Africa

Ian is the founder of White Motion Films, an award-winning wedding videography company based in South Africa. Ian has always been a creative, visionary and someone who likes to push boundaries. His formal musical background has also given him an edge as music is often overlooked as a powerful component when it comes to storytelling. About 5 years ago he ventured into commercial films as well making his mark internationally for a well-known US brand amongst others.

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