Simon Reay is the fearless cinematographer of Man vs. Wild, the BBC & Discovery Channel series that follows adventurer Bear Grylls as he shows viewers how to survive in remote and inhospitable wilderness locations. Anyone watching the show has to be dumbstruck by the notion that Reay is almost always doing whatever Bear is doing, whether it's crossing raging waters or traversing a boulder-strewn mountain—except Reay has a 30-pound camera on his shoulder!
Doug Glover is the director of photography of the wildly popular Discovery show Dirty Jobs, and over the course of 300 segments, he has faced some of the world's filthiest and most hazardous work conditions. As he puts it, "We've done everything from crawling in the sewers of San Francisco to scuba diving in a frozen lake in Minnesota to sleeping out on the frozen ocean in the Arctic Circle."
Choosing A Camera
One of the primary questions when approaching a new project is: Which cameras will be the best ones for the job? The choice is generally a balance of budget, features and ergonomics.
For Dirty Jobs, Glover uses the Panasonic AJ-HDX900 for his A and B cameras, while his C camera is a Sony HVR-Z1U. Glover says the HDX900s were selected because, "the cameras have a great look for a reasonable price." He also carries a number of specialty cameras in his kit, including the GoPro Hero HD camera and the Canon VIXIA HV30.
"Often, we find ourselves in some extremely cramped places, and we've been able to get some really dynamic shots," says Glover about the GoPro. "You can use one piece of gaff tape and stick them to a wall. But because they're 60i and you can't control the shutter, it has a very distinct look and you have to use it sparingly. I still use an HV30 when I can because I have manual control of the camera and I can shoot 24 or 30p. These cut a lot better with the 900s than the GoPros do."
Glover stresses the need for reliable gear because he never knows what he'll be up against from one day to the next. "We typically show up to a location for the first time on the day of filming," he says. "Unless there are a lot of logistics involved, we don't often get a scout. Because we don't have a script or set anything up, we go into the day with a game plan, but we follow Mike [Rowe] around and when he wants to deviate from that game plan, we follow."