Boot Camp

The call time was 6:30 a.m. Come again? Although quite the norm for film crews, this was strictly foreign territory for a journalist, especially for a camera workshop. But this was no ordinary workshop. This was bootcamp.

Starting out as a grip truck driver, director of photography Shane Hurlbut, ASC, worked his way through the camera ranks to eventually become an elite ASC cinematographer. Now, with over 15 feature films under his belt, including hit films such as Drumline, We Are Marshall and Terminator: Salvation, Hurlbut has become, along with Philip Bloom and Vincent Laforet, one of the leading authorities on the HD-DSLR revolution. Having recently completed work on Act of Valor (see HDVP, February 2010), the first big feature to be shot with Canon EOS 5D Mark IIs, Hurlbut believes that HD DSLRs are the greatest thing to happen to the production world since film.

“The first thing that appealed to me about the cameras was the ability to be so immersive,” he explains. “The camera is very small, it’s lightweight, and you can really think outside the box on where you can put it. If I use the right lens, Picture Style and help develop a camera system, I can use this camera to capture A-camera footage, which captures skin tones and vitality like no other HD camera.”

Fitting for a bootcamp, Redrock Micro’s Brian Valente (left) presents Shane Hurlbut, ASC (center), with his very own camouflaged Redrock Ops DSLR Field Cinema Deluxe Bundle.

Because of this, Hurlbut and his wife, Lydia, thought the timing was right to do an HD-DSLR workshop. Since there were already numerous workshops being offered, the Hurlbuts wanted to offer a class designed for HD-DSLR projects that would hopefully end up on the big screen rather than just a 15-inch laptop.

Shane tests out a filter over his Zeiss CP.2 lens.

“I always believe in testing things out before you open it up to a giant number of people,” says Lydia Hurlbut, who orchestrated the event and is in charge of the Hurlbut Visuals website. “Shane and I felt that the way to do this was more of a high-end master class with people that have a certain amount of experience, rather than opening it up to 300 people. We felt that with the team we had, we just couldn’t manage the high number in order to give high-quality instruction.”

The 40 or so attendees who committed to the bootcamp were from all over the world, including South Africa, Iceland, Italy, Columbia, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, and were a mix of directors, cinematographers, still photographers, ACs and editors. There were also a few members from our Armed Services who were there to learn more about the camera systems to use on training missions for real-world military operations. One inspiring participant, Clive Mohale, from Soweto, South Africa, learned of the bootcamp through the Hurlbut Visuals website. Because there are no film schools in his country, Mohale and his friends saved up a pool of money in order to send Mohale to Los Angeles to attend the workshop. He would then bring the information he learned back to the South African film community.