Enjoying the Ride: Nikon D750 Style

“When you show up at an athlete’s door with six cameras rigged to a car they are pretty impressed,” says Dan Marks, co-founder and co-producer/director of South District Films, referencing a project he’s doing with cinematographer Anthony Arendt and Adam Goldberg, his business partner and also the series producer/director. Jetting around the Unites States has taken the crew to N.Y.C., Cleveland, Baltimore and other cities where they chat with sports names such as CC Sabathia, Steve Smith, D’Angelo Russell, Karl-Anthony Towns and Riley Hawk.

Vice Sports’ Ride Along hits a reality television bulls-eye. Knowing that athletes often have very little free time, the producers invented a way to grab small talk without a big time commitment. They created a recipe that encourages casual, free form, intimate conversation—the Ride Along concept. Shares Marks, “While sitting in an SUV, either to or from practice or a game, we find that athletes are pretty relaxed. It’s an unpretentious setting that encourages open dialogue. They’ll talk about just about anything. Sounds like Jerry Seinfeld’s series on comedians, doesn’t it?”

Continuing, “For the concept to fly, we needed a small form camera that was not intimidating, could capture excellent quality and would work through all conditions. The D750’s compact size makes it easy to rig, as well as travel with. We’re able to capture a true 1080p image at 23.98 fps.”

Enjoying the Ride: Nikon D750 Style

Nikon D750 & AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR lens rigged up to capture driver POV footage for Ride Along.


Hooking Up

It generally takes a staff of four to rig and acquire footage for an episode. That single web episode, once edited, runs roughly five minutes or less in length, but the in-transit capture can last 45 to 75 minutes. Marks operates as the on-site director of photography. Tagging along will be an audio operator, one cameraman, plus a rigger. Six Nikon D750 bodies are configured to the vehicle and aimed to record the interviewee from various angles. The capture space is tested well before picking up the athlete. Nikon cameras are placed using suction cup mounts, rods and ball joints supplied by the key grip person. Notes Marks, “An interviewer in the car poses questions, but the show focuses on the athlete. As a result, we have to position each lens to keep that person out of the frame.”

Cameras are always set to 1080p 23.98 fps. A custom flat profile is dialed-in by the DoP, Arendt; that profile is later color graded. “Auto ISO is always turned on and transitioned from 100 to 3200; specific ISO is not really set when shooting. The Auto ISO assists when going in and out of shadows/dark areas; it feathers very nicely,” explains Marks.

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Enjoying the Ride: Nikon D750 Style