Miracle Workers season 3: Oregon Trail VFX plates

Earlier this year I did some second unit photography for season 3 of Miracle Workers: Oregon Trail. These were VFX plates of river crossing locations, where the VFX team would take the high resolution pan and tile plates and populate these environments with CG characters.

The tool of choice was the usual RED Gemini. I shot each set of tiled plates with a couple different lenses: the Zeiss Super Speed 25mm and the Sigma Art Cine 14mm. In situations with little direct supervision, it's always safer to shoot two options in case one of them doesn't work for the VFX team. Adding that second option, even if it wasn't asked for, on a shoot like this is just a smart move since we had plenty of media and drive space and the plates weren't that data intensive anyway. They don't want to add another day of shooting pickups and I would prefer not to make the 6-hour drive to this location again. In the end, it is a bit time consuming since I'm shooting tiles (about 8-14 tiles for each shot), but I knew my schedule and knew I had the time to give them that secondary coverage and still make my day.

There was also a drone team shooting with us, but the wind was pretty strong and so our unit had to split up, with myself going off and shooting the plates all on my own while the field producer stayed with the drone crew, supervising their work. Fortunately, I had gone over the locations with the field producer beforehand, so I knew what to get and where.

One of the locations had a barrel full of firewood burning just off screen with tons of smoke pouring out, and there were no other places where the land jutted out into the water far enough to get the shot, so it had to the that place. Knowing I couldn't stop the smoke, I quickly moved on, hoping the fire would die down before I returned later in the day. When I came back to shoot the location near the end of the day, it turned out delaying was a positive, as the barrel was no longer smoking, but on top of that the tide had gone down and I was able to get out even further to place my camera, which ended up with a better shot.

After wrapping things up, I headed back and met up with the field producer and drone team as they were finishing up their day, and just in time too. The sun would soon be too low to get the shots we needed. Mission accomplished.

Getting the tripod a little wet is a small price to pay for a better shot.

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