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Cinematographer Danny Schmidt Captures Endangered Spider Monkey with Help of the Cartoni Focus HD Fluid Head

January 22, 2016 | By

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Danny Schmidt

Danny Schmidt

When wildlife cinematographer Danny Schmidt plunged into Colombia’s remote Magdalena River Valley earlier this year to document the plight of the critically endangered brown spider monkey in a project for National Geographic, his camera package included the Cartoni Focus HD fluid head supplied by Manios Digital & Film.

“Working in the jungle, it’s important to have gear you trust will function time and time again,” Schmidt said, “even in gnarly conditions when you’re breaking it down and setting it up 20 times a day.”

Schmidt used Focus HD in tandem with Cartoni’s Stabilo tripod to support a Sony FS7 camera and an assortment of long lenses. “Focus has a 100 mm ball head which translates into bigger payloads,” he explained. “That’s important to me as I work with a pretty big camera and bigger lenses. Focus provides the solid, smooth performance you’d expect from a bigger, more expensive head.”

Schmidt and camera operator Federico Pardo had just eight days to locate the rare albino spider monkeys, record their story and capture the fragile environment in which they live. Their task was complicated by the sweltering jungle environment, omnivorous insects and the fact that just two of the monkeys were known to exist. “As luck would have it, we were able to film these incredible ghosts of the forest for several hours,” recalled Schmidt. “They ate, they wrestled, they stared down at us with big, curious eyes from the top of the canopy. It’s incredible to see these giant, white figures in treetops, flying through the branches with their prehensile tails.

“Shooting these extremely rare albino monkeys in the Colombian jungle was an incredible experience,” he added. “I hope this story brings attention to the plight of tropical forests in the face of rampant resource development.”

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