Shooting ELMS Driver Interview Videos at Le Castellet

I have just got back from the South of France where I have spent the last week at the official press season test and opening round of the European Le Mans Series at the Circuit Paul Ricard near Le Castellet.

One of the things I have been doing during the Covid19 lockdown it to increase my skill set with regards to video production.  In 2019 I really started to shoot more video content, especially on the FIA European Historic Sporting Rally Championship, so I took a couple of online courses on video editing and production and last week was the first real chance to be able to put what I had learned into practice.

Because the event was held behind closed doors and the number of media attending the event was reduced significantly, one of the goals for communications during the ELMS week was to increase the number of video interviews we produce so that the fans and the media had more behind the scenes content.

One of the focus of the communications plan was the inclusion for the first time of an all female race crew in the top LMP2 category.  Katherine Legge, Sophia Floesch and Tatiana Calderon are racing in the no50 Richard Mille Racing Team Oreca 07-Gibson and backed by the FIA Women in Motorsport initiative.  We did an interview with trio on Monday 13th July ahead of the first day of the official test on Tuesday.

Here is the video that was used on the ELMS official website and social media and also on the FIA YouTube and social media channels.

I shot this video using two cameras.  The main camera was a Fujifilm X-T4 with a XF16-55mm f2.8 lens on a fixed 3 Legged Thing 'Billy' carbon fibre tripod.  I used a Haida M10 0.9 (3 stop) ND filter to allow me to use a wider aperture in the bright sunshine and a FeelWorld F5 5 inch monitor.  

The second camera was a Fujifilm X-T3 with an XF50-140mm f2.8 lens on a 3 Legged Thing 'Jay' carbon fibre video tripod with a fluid head to shoot the cutaway shots as the drivers were talking.  Both cameras were set to 'Eterna' film simulation as this is my preferred look and it is also very easy to colour grade. 

For the audio I used the Rode Wireless Go along with Interview Go adapter that accepts the Wireless Go transmitter.  I also had a Rode VideoMic Pro R for the interviewer off camera.

On the first day of the test I went trackside and shot from different corners to get some additional B Roll material to include in the video.  This footage was shot on the X-T4 with 50-140mm f2.8, the Haida 0.9 ND filter and strapped to the 3LT 'Jay' tripod.  I shot in either 4K50 or 1080P200 for the ultra slow motion clips used in the finished video.

The resulting video was edited in Adobe Premier Pro, with some extra work in Adobe After Effects.

In addition to this video I did several other interviews with drivers over the course of the week.  

The paddock interviews were shot on a lightweight set up using a GoPro Hero 8 Black fitted with a Media Mod so it can accept an external microphone with a 3.5mm port that I fitted the Rode Wireless Go receiver.  

The GoPro Hero 8 Black has impressive image stabilisation so I was able to handhold the camera with a short tripod mounted to the bottom as a handle and this was a great lightweight system for these sorts of interviews. 

Here is the interview with reigning ELMS Drivers Champion Memo Rojas.

On Sunday after the race I conducted the winners interviews and for this set up I went back to the Fujifilm X-T4 and XF16-55mm f2.8 lens on the 3LT 'Jay' tripod.  The audio was recorded on a Zoom H2n audio recorded that was plugged directly into the sound desk in the press conference area.  

As a back up I had the Rode Wireless Go set up to feed directly into the camera with the transmitter on my lapel to record my questions on one channel, while the Rode VideoMic Pro R was on the second channel to record the drivers.  As it turned out the audio recorded on the Zoom was the one I used for the final edit, but I could've got an acceptable output from the two Rode mics if there had been a problem.

image courtesy of Jakob Ebrey Photography

Here is the press conference video for the three winning drivers from the no32 United Autosports Oreca - 

I am looking to add a second Rode Wireless Go and Interview Go to my audio kit and I will also buy a second Fujifilm X-T4 body to replace the X-T3 for video work.  There is nothing wrong with the X-T3 but it doesn't IBIS for handheld videos.  Also the X-T4 has a separate video mode and it would be good to have two camera bodies working the same way.

The next races will be at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium with the ELMS taking place on the 9th August while the World Endurance Championship will at Spa a week later.  There will be a lot more opportunities to record more interviews then.

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