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Codex and Documentarian Bryan H. Carroll Travel in High Gear


Bryan H. Carroll
Bryan H. Carroll

The run-and-gun shooting style once practiced by some documentary filmmakers almost invariably required compromises in image quality, but a new generation of smaller, high resolution cameras backed by high performance recording and image processing technology from Codex is allowing documentarians to avoid the compromise.

Why We Ride is producer/director Bryan H. Carroll’s latest project, a documentary film capturing the heart of the motorcycling community. “It’s about the passion of the riders and the soul of their machines,” Carroll explained. Currently in production, the film is being shot at multiple locations across the United States, from the arid deserts of California to the rallies in the Midwest and from the salt flats in Bonneville to the sun-drenched beaches of Florida’s Atlantic coast.

Carroll and his crew are employing a novel workflow that enables them to capture action imagery at the highest quality, while working in remote locations, often under extreme conditions. That workflow includes Canon’s Cinema EOS C500 camera paired with Codex’s Onboard S recorder. This combination allows Carroll to shoot in 4K at rates up to 120 fps, while working with a camera package that is small and lightweight enough to be operated through the door of a van traveling at 60 mph or on the end of a 12-foot jib arm.

Why We Ride is also using Codex’s Vault for media offload, back-up, and dailies processing. For much of the shoot, a Vault (operating via battery) travels along with the production in a van, and is used to off-load media from the Onboard S capture drives as they fill up. At night, the crew carries the Vault into a hotel room to complete the job of processing dailies media for delivery to the editorial team the following morning.

LR-Codex_WhyWeRide09Carroll said that the production started shooting the documentary with Canon C300 cameras, but timed the shooting of most of the motorcycle sequences to the availability of the C500 camera in order to take advantage of its ability to capture 4K. He chose to pair the new camera with the Codex Onboard S to enjoy the benefits of its compact size and extended recording time and battery life.

“As a filmmaker, I never want a piece of equipment to slow me down, as that causes me to miss shots,” he explains. “Codex allowed me to shoot at my pace.”

Carroll added that the Vault made capturing 4K practical because it allowed his crew to process dailies quickly without relying on a postproduction facility, resulting in significant savings. “Given the amount of shooting we do, post costs can add up quickly,” he said. “With the Vault, we were able to keep it all in-house, from the camera straight through editorial.”

The crew worked long hours, capturing a huge amount of original camera media. One particular shoot day in the Mojave Desert, Carroll estimated the crew got more than 40 set-ups in 14 hours. Given that workload, the advantage of using a recorder capable of capturing hours of 4K media on a single drive is obvious. They were able to capture up to 90 minutes of media with the Onboard S before even changing drives. Carroll added that frame rate is critical to his vision. “120 frames per second is absolutely necessary when portraying the fast-action of a motorcycle in poetic motion,” he said.

Carroll was also impressed with the ruggedness of the Onboard S. The crew spent many days filming in the high temperatures of the deserts and blowing wind of the beaches. “There were times when it was covered in dirt and sand,” he said, “But we never babied the recorder, we treated it the same way we treat our base plates, and it just kept running.”

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