Patagonia like you’ve never seen it – Choosing gear to empower cinematic storytelling from a pack
By Joe ‘Dapp’ Foster
Watch Patagonica at www.patagonicafilm.com to see the Duzi and Modo in action.
When it came down to choosing what to bring to Patagonia, we had a lot of factors to consider before we settled in on a final gear list. Realistically, what could we bring into the country and what camera equipment were we going to be able to carry with us on each hike? Was that piece worth it’s weight in pushing our film’s cinematography? If the equipment was necessary to the trip, it didn’t necessarily come on every hike. Often our packs were over 50lbs each and when choosing space amongst jackets, food, stoves, tents, and lenses – we chose wisely as to which hikes we brought larger pieces of gear. The production team was also working out of an adventure vehicle that held all 5 of us, our camera gear, and wilderness equipment. We really only wanted to bring film tools that we would use often and that truly enhanced the film’s storytelling and cinematography.
Our month long production involved venturing through regions of Patagonia covering over 6000 km of mountainous barren back roads in both Chile and Argentina. During that month we trekked for more than two thirds of the days including a longer 9 day hike. The constant cycling of film equipment we brought out each day or trek led to the shot diversity that we needed in order to tell the Patagonica story and the vision that I had for it.
I use slider shots to immerse my audience with sliding swipes peering through ferns and moss, or create a revealing moment with a wipe. I actually do unusual things with sliders – occasionally adding pan/tilt movement to slides and even bumps to my push-in shots intentionally to give a human feeling. Other times, a super smooth slide defines the majestic nature of some of the environments we were shooting in Patagonia. Being able to incorporate overcrank and 4K as well as a timelapse add on made the Duzi Slider and specifically the Modo – Drive a powerful tool. Since our return, the Modo – Pan and Grip Reacher have been added to the hand-wound timelapse accessories.
Several weeks before we departed for Patagonia, Cinevate announced their Modo Drive attachment for the Duzi Slider and I contacted them immediately. No batteries needed, a slider with a simple timelapse attachment that I could choose to bring or leave in the vehicle. We added the slider to our importation documents and never looked back.
As an adventure filmmaker, I appreciated the shots and reliability of the slider, as an aerospace engineer, I valued the construction, creativity, and adaptability that went into designing and manufacturing the Duzi and Modo.
After several months of planning, a month in production in Patagonian regions of Chile and Argentina, covering over 3700 miles by vehicle and several hundred by foot, we had wrapped on the largest endeavor I had ever taken on and it was time to head into post production. Shooting with the support of my 4 person crew allowed us to create a wild and unique way of sharing a Patagonia with people through cinematography.
We always have respect for our gear, no matter where our projects take us but even so, we put most of our equipment through the ringer – the Duzi and Modo Drive held up and performed the entire month. The Duzi and Modo came out of the box working and well calibrated. After playing with it at the studio, I had a solid feel for it’s capabilities and what things to keep an eye out for in proper set up.
Set up is pretty painless, but it pays to take the time to understand how the Modo engages and setting up with a levelled and sturdy footing. Once the timelapse is set up, bumping the slider may shift the cart on the rails, the whole timelapse system runs on a wind up motor and friction – no belts or pulleys. Be careful to store the drive wheel somewhere enclosed in case the rubberized outer ring slips off. Engaging the drive wheel, getting a feel for what a shot will look like and setting up the timelapse is unbelievably easy. Simplicity is king in the wilds of Patagonia and not needing any batteries, timers, or fancy set ups, meant getting the shots and more of them with ease. Serious – just don’t bump it really hard which only happened once and you’ll get shot after shot.
Wheels stayed smooth, I didn’t ding the rails. Nothing obnoxiously unthreaded, or jammed. I did largely keep dirty water and mud off the slider and used a large velcro padded wrap to crudely store it in the van or strapped to the outside of packs. The slider is well made as a solid unit. It does not appear super amenable to home repairs but I don’t see it ever needing any.
Shots from the slider:
Many of my favorite shots that we decided to use in Patagonica came from the Duzi Slider. The linear moving timelapses add a dynamic aspect to Patagonica, the slider was smooth enough for me to play with macro slide-ins. We shot our stylized push-ins, and parallax offshoots. There are a few pieces of equipment that I would cut from our list next film production but the Duzi and Modo will absolutely be coming. Weight, simplicity, reliability, and the value that they added to the cinematography in Patagonica made it ideal. The slider performed and there isn’t anything else out there like it.