Half A Million Steps - Production Notes

Written by:
Helen Robinson
July 10, 2019


Half A Million Steps was filmed on 3 x RED DSMCII cameras; with Canon Cine Prime lenses, a DJI Ronin 2 gimbal, DJI Phantom 2 and Phantom 4 Pro drones, 2x Aputure 300D’s and a Rhino Evo slider with Arc rotation system.

The film’s director Dominic Streeter explains “When we talked about treatment styles many of our influences were wildlife films and nature programmes. It might seem unusual for a gritty subject matter but for us filming beautiful human stories in beautiful natural landscapes required beautiful cinematography.

RED cameras supplemented with the stunning prime cine lenses were the obvious choice to achieve that look. There was a premium on great lighting and aerial footage was important to showcase the vast, open emptiness of the Aussie outback and to show the scale and isolation of the journey."

Director of Photography Richard Boon adds

“we decided to go with a RED camera setup for a few reasons. Firstly, as we were shooting outdoors with no ability to control the harsh sunlight, we needed something with a high dynamic range. The REDs enabled us to retain the light and dark spaces, with minimal overexposure issues.”

Much of the b roll and actuality was filmed in real time to give sound folio and the sense of being in the moment, but many of the landscapes and nature shots were shot at 100fps, giving the film a meandering, gentle pace.

The film features a lot of short stories and the team were concerned about the talking head scenes feeling static. To combat that, Rhino Evo motorised sliders were used to bring motion and fluidity to the interviews and a lot of the more stable walking shots were captured using the DJI Ronin 2 with car and boat mounts. This gave us smooth dynamic movement on the go, whilst having a second camera and shoulder rig always ready for impromptu handheld work.

Night shots were lit with 300D lights, chosen for their portability and ability to deliver 2K outage from a double V-lock battery grip – enabling the crew to be nimble but without sacrificing power or light quality.

The final key element was music and sound design. Dominic Streeter says "The music was vital to bring the film to life and add pathos. We worked on a bunch of musical themes and melodies which recur throughout, to link the narrative. Those same themes are at times wistful and subdued and at times big and orchestral. Our composer Adam Daffurn burned a lot of midnight oil in the studio and has scored a masterpiece.”

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