Another Extreme Run ‘n Gun

Emma Manners, Her Grace, The Duchess of Rutland


Did I ever mention I’m the ‘Videography-in-Residence Belvoir Castle’?

I came here to England because my sculptor wife landed a gig as Artist-in-Residence for the Duchess of Rutland (Belvoir Castle).

Years later the Duchess realised the value of video after I did one for the Belvoir Shoot that got about 35,000 views in a couple years.

Anyway, over the years I did a few things for the castle, some paid, some not. But more recently I really think she realised the marketing value and has asked for a slew of videos over the next little while, this one being the first of the new lot.

The reason I’m posting it is that it really is an example of run and gun to the extreme.

What I mean by that is that it was done totally live with no preps and no idea on my part of what she was going to do, where she was going to walk, when she was going to stop, what she was going to say, when she was going to say it and how she was going to end it.

It all took place over about 45 minutes.

One thing I had learned, working with the Duchess, was to always have the camera running as she was apt to start talking at any moment and expect to be in the camera frame and fully recordable.

Step 1: Stick the radio mic on her.

Step 2: Turn the camera on and don’t’ turn it off for any reason until she indicates we are well and truly done.

Now, understand, this approach was understood to be a ‘blog style’ video–meaning, it was going to be dated. It was just an update report on an on-going project that will be totally different a month or two from now. It’s akin to (but hopefully better than) some guy walking around with a camera on a selfie stick.

For this I used the Sony HXR X70 on full intelligent auto mode. No pretentions about getting ‘perfect video’ (color temp, exposure, etc.). Facial recognition was on for focus control of her face.

Actually, in this case, I didn’t even do any color correction. This is right out of the camera.

Everything hand-held, as usual. (try doing that on a gimbal–she’d have left you in the dust from the get-go while you fiddled with your balance controls). Take 2? Forget it.

For something like this you’ve got to have your true run and gun hat on (which is what that book is about you see the link for on the right of the page)

I’m not trying to be smug. You just have to be able to do this sort of thing as a run and gunner.

So…in auto mode you obviously run into some non-ideal situations–like going from inside to outside (or visa versa) or finding that your talent has suddenly stopped with the sun right behind here and has gone into silhouette, and so on.

You will see I did my best in those circumstances to shift the camera’s position as she was talking to optimise the lighting conditions but’s that’s all I did. You’ll see that in certain circumstances the auto color balance adjusted midshot.  Purists will notice. No one else will.

She just wanted to give an update on progress on a live construction site. And that’s what we got.

Just before she walked off to her Bentley I told her I’d need a few moments to run around and get some B roll footage which I did in about 4 minutes. She waited and made some calls.

And that was it.

A couple hours later the edit was done.

Was it stressful? A wee bit.

But practice makes perfect.

We’ve got another one coming up. I’ll try to do better.




4 responses

  1. First of all, a entertaining and good video! And it’s a pleasure to watch the Duchess, 200% British! I’ve got a question about the sound. There’s no wind rumbling noise ( a tiny bit in the beginning) and i see you used a lav mic without a mini dead cat. But there is some wind and she’s walking on a quick pace. Did you adjust the audio in post? I’m always struggling with this 😦


    • No, that was just a well-placed lav and luckily wind was not a big factor. I didn’t touch it in post–mainly because, as I mentioned, I treated this as a brief blog-type update video that will be updated in a month or two. In other words, it’s not meant to be viable for more than a month or two as opposed to a video that needs to remain relevant for years. So, I actually did very little if anything in post (I must have done something, but I don’t remember). The X70 pretty much did it all for me. That said, I have been out with the Duchess in the middle of a shoot under high wind conditions when she equally expected the footage to be used and when I knew that it wouldn’t. But when I showed her what I eventually did with the footage (that was unusable on sound), she didn’t mind at all. It turned out to be a video that got some 35,000 views in a couple of years and probably earned a hundred thousand or more in income for the Belvoir shoot. And that was this one: So true, sometimes you just can’t get viable audio as a lone shooter (or even with an audio crew). So you have to know when you’re beat and what to do to make it work anyway. This one wasn’t really a big deal in terms of wind and I don’t think, in context, that anyone would even care if they heard a bit, because the audio was perfectly understandable.


  2. “…purists will notice…no one else will.” And some of us appreciate what it truly is to be a “run & gunner,” and for us, we don’t care! It’s all about grabbing the image while on the move…and sometimes, REALLY on the move, like a dead sprint. Been there…done that!! 🙂

    Thanks, Joe, for another inspiring post!


Don't just sit there...say something!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: