We boarded the ship yesterday and this morning we left port around 0700. (For those of you not familiar with ship time, that’s 7am.) The ship is so much bigger than I imagined and is a veritable labyrinth! After being on the boat for no more than 20 minutes, I could not find my way off again. This is probably a good thing as I suspect getting off the boat while at sea is ill advised.
So back to disembarking! Now you only get to leave port once, so what does that mean for a filmmaker? It means the night before you walk every square inch of the boat and decide where the best places are to mount your cameras. Then you spend another hour or so rigging all your cameras and talking about the best order for setting them up and triggering record in the morning. This was a really important step because some of the locations we wanted to place cameras are restricted to passengers while the ship is leaving the port due to safety issues. I also wanted to mount a camera in the Ice Tower (I know, totally bad ass name, and equally cool place to go.) The Ice Tower is the highest place on the ship that you can get to and is located about 30 feet above the Bridge (the second highest place you can go) To get up into the Ice tower, one must go to the Bridge and then climb up 3 sets of ladders. The first thing I noticed as I climbed up for the first time was how quiet the tower is (ships are loud!) Then as I stood up I was greeted with a fantastic 360 view of the world below.
So clearly the Ice Tower is must have location for filming, however the Bridge is off limits about 15 minutes before the launch so there are no distractions for the port pilot.
Now I also wanted to get our 360 camera mounted on the bow of the ship, also another location that is off limits just before the launch and also quite a far hike from the Ice tower. The solution? Well, first, Greta set up the GoPro overlooking the stern of the Ship while I made a mad dash for the Ice Tower carrying the Osmo and the 360 cam. Once the Osmo was in place, I waited until about 0643 to turn it on and get it recording, then I very quickly climbed down the ladders and down about 5 flights of stairs, out the level 1 exit and ran up to the bow. I was able to get the 360 camera mounted and turned on, only to realize that, whoops! One battery was dead. This resulted in another mad dash back to the Lab for some new batteries. Thankfully I got there and back in a few minutes and got the shot set up and rolling.
The only thing left was to get the big camera set up on sticks on the deck of the ship and record a short interview with our SOCCOM scientist, Steve Riser as the ship pulled away from the docks. Despite the rain we were able to pull all of this off with hardly a hitch! So far off to a good start.
I want to address something quickly, I was told that life on a boat would be a sedentary affair, well I clocked about 13,000 steps and almost 7 miles of walking today. I don’t know how many stairs that includes, but it is a lot.
This leg of the trip is simply beautiful. We are surrounded by pristine mountains and countryside and the sailing is smooth. I know once we hit the open ocean, I won’t have quite as much scenery to shoot so I really took advantage of it today. I promise I will get you all some great stills from all of the wonderful shooting we did!
And you know how I mentioned that you only leave port once? Well, that is a slight lie. We actually went a few miles to the east to stop at another port and take on some additional cargo. I was able to get some additional footage here as well (Score!) though this leg was not without a big scare.
We had to pass customs at the second port, which meant after taking on the cargo, a number of government officials came on to the boat to check passports and other paperwork. Since I am traveling with a carnet, I had to be there to make sure they signed off on my paperwork. Well, here is where things go a bit dicey, for you see, customs officers came on when the ship was cleared to leave port. Once the ship is cleared, no one is supposed to be allowed off or on. However, when they got to my carnet, it turns out they were supposed to have signed off on that back at the customs office, located at the entrance to the port. Also, keep in mind that it is Christmas Eve and everyone wants to go home for the holiday. There was a legitimate concern that no one would be able to clear my paperwork (which could leave me responsible for up to 40% of the total value of all the gear that we brought on this trip). There was also the concern that we would not be able to leave the port with this outstanding issue. Yea, you never want to be that guy.
As luck would have it, one of the officers was able to finally get through to the port office and we had to run off the ship, jump in a pickup and high tail it to the customs office. I won’t go into much detail here, but let’s just say that this was the fastest I have ever cleared customs.
So back to the ship where the captain was surprised to see me return so quickly. Within another 15 minutes, I had a few more cameras set up and we were off!
The excitement never seems to stop. Even though it has only been a day on the boat, it feels like I have been here much longer. Tomorrow is Christmas and we hit the open ocean, wish me luck, and happy holidays friends!