Portrait Film: Eric Hung, Motorcycle Racer

Eric is my friend and one of the most interesting people I know. I love making films about interesting people!

For some time we’ve discussed producing a portrait film for him detailing his racing experience on mini motorcycle.

I wanted to shoot something personal and intimate, focusing in on the person behind the sport. I wanted to take a snapshot of his routine and get a glimpse into his obsession. What drives him to wrestle this tiny motorcycle around this giant racetrack, lap after lap, season after season?

My original intention was to have him speak on camera. Unfortunately, Eric is quite shy and I could not convince him. I hate being on camera almost as much as he does, but in the end I had no choice. I really wanted his portrait film to be driven by dialogue and as he was a man of few words, I had to get behind my own lens. I hated it, but this is how badly I wanted to tell his story!

The interview you see is not perfect, but this was the best I could manage after approximately four takes! Between the camera, separate audio, positioning and the set, there are enough things to worry about in an interview shoot. When you’re both the cinematographer as well as the subject, this challenge doubles. Thankfully Roy assisted me.

The 5D Mark III shone once again. There is no Mark II footage anywhere, I used only one camera and two lenses: 50 1.2L and the 24-70 2.8L. I’ve also started to edit purely in the all-i encoded footage straight off the camera and this has expedited my workflow tremendously. There is no more need to transcode to ProRes prior to editing in FCP! What a change!

The action shots at the end turned out extremely well. I used the jib once again and I find that it is a much better tool for action work over just a tripod and fluid head. There is a lot more weight hence a lot of extra inertia to damp movements and this produces much smoother start/stops as well as transitions. The lifting and lowering action of the crane also contributes to a much more sensational production value. I’ve already had several comments that this looked like MotoGP! The rest of the footage was all stabilized by monopod.

Additionally, the Zacuto Z finder all but saved me. Without it, the LCD was all but invisible under the bright sun. I actually even used it on those fast panning shots on the jib. I stuck my eye in the viewfinder and shuffled around with the crane.

This was also a good test for rolling shutter on the Mark III. If you watch the action pans, you can indeed see some rolling shutter artifacts. They have also not improved tremendously over the Mark II. However, if this footage is any indication, I really don’t consider this an issue. I think rolling shutter complaints tend to be exaggerated and rarely do they affect actual footage. I mean, I was moving the camera pretty fast here to keep up with the bikes!

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