Hockenheim or Bust
Friday the 20th of April 2018 was the start of a fast and furious 24 hours in Germany.
Well, slightly less than 24 hours if I'm being entirely accurate.
For a little bit of background, myself, Alan and Graham, had been wanting do something on the story of Jim Clark for a while, but we had not had the opportunity or a suitable outlet for it.
Jim Clark is widely regarded as one of the best Formula One drivers of not only his generation, but of all time.
He died tragically young at the age of 32, in an era when safety was not a major concern for the sport, in Hockenheim Germany
In his short career, he won 25 races and two world championships.
Not bad for a man from a small borders town in the south of Scotland.
2018 was the 50th anniversary of his death and it became a prime opportunity for us to share his story.
After some research producer Alan found out that the Hockenheimring were putting on a special event called "The Jim Clark Revival".
It's a yearly event to honour the life and career of Jim Clark, as well as to celebrate motor racing through the decades, but this years was to be a special one for the 50th anniversary.
Accreditation was sought, tickets were bought and a hire car was booked.
Our trip to Hockenheim was on.
Graham and I packed a day bag each as Alan stayed back in Glasgow to research archive and help organise things for us ahead of our arrival.
Our flight out was at 07:45 from Glasgow airport and taking into consideration the time difference, we arrived in Frankfurt at 10:30.
We picked up our hire car and headed for the Autobahn.
Enjoying the lack of speed limit, a quick drive down to Hockenheim later, we arrived for about noon.
The weather was very welcome after a long winter in Scotland.
28c, not a cloud in the sky and only a slight breeze made this a perfect day for filming.
We liaised with the people in charge of media and secured an interview with an ex-F1 driver from the 70's, Jochen Mass and Grahame White one of the stewards who was actually there on the day of Jim Clarks accident
He was the one who had to break the news to Team Lotus and his team mate Graham Hill.
They were all excellent interviews and gave us some amazing information and insight on racing during those times as well as showing us the track-side memorial to Jim where the old circuit used to be and the fateful accident occured.
The interviews were shot on a Sony PMW FS7, in SLog2 CineEI.
Shooting in that mode can be tricky as it can be hard to expose correctly in the monitor as the colours are very flat.
It's always advisable to use a histogram or waveform monitor in the display, as they are the only accurate way of getting a good image.
Your eye or the monitor can be wrong, but a waveform won't lie!
We had originally intended on using the Rode Filmmaker Wireless Mic Kit for audio.
These are excellent wireless Lavalier mics, using a digital signal rather than radio frequencies, simple to use and batteries will last for hours.
Unfortunately though the noise from the pit lane was far too loud, so we had to switch to a shotgun mic, giving us better directional control of where the audio was coming from.
On top of interviews we were also given full pit lane, paddock and race track access, which for someone who is a petrol head was all excellent.
We are all self confessed car nuts so getting an opportunity like that was amazing.
Track side I switched back to my Sony PXW FS5 as Graham used his FS7.
I had my Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 as well as my Canon 75-300mm f/4 with me.
I started off using the 24-70 to get some general wides and whip pans as cars went past in excess of 130mph.
The 75-300 was great for close ups, but it was very challenging to use with the cars going as fast as they were.
To combat this I switched my camera into S&Q mode, which is basically in-camera slo-mo.
Seeing something that moves so fast being slowed down to 200fps makes for great footage, particularly when you can see things like the suspension moving or tyres flexing as they corner so quickly.
Once we were finished track side we moved to the pits which was an assault on the senses.
People can talk about the noise, but until you actually experience something like that, you can't get a sense of what it's like.
You not only hear it, you feel your your internal organs vibrating as the engines rev and air moves around you.
Getting the shots we needed of cars in garages, mechanics changing tyres, working on engines, discussing things with the drivers, all proved relatively easy.
A press-pass and media vest really will open up doors for you!
Finishing in the pit lane, Graham and I had a brief discussion of what we had shot and what else was required.
Once we both agreed we'd got everything we needed it was unfortunately time to head off.
We'd been at the track for 6 hours and were in danger of over-shooting which would make the edit a lot tougher.
So as much as we were enjoying ourselves, it was time to call it.
We made sure to stop at the media centre before heading off to thank the media team for their help during the day, they had bent over backwards to help us out and it made our day a lot easier.
Another hour or so on the autobahn later we checked in at the hotel then dropped the hire car off.
It was about 21:30 by this point but we both wanted to try and see more of Frankfurt than the airport, so we took a wander in town for an hour before fatigue, and the reality that we had to be up at 04:30 for our flight back, set in.
Bear in mind Germany is an hour ahead of the UK, so we effectively had to be up at 03:30.
After a few ours of sleep, a 15 minute shuttle bus and a brief wait at the airport, our flight back to Glasgow was at 06:40.
We were picked up by Alan in Glasgow, and by 08:30 I was back sitting on my couch, when 24 hours earlier I'd been sitting on a plane to Frankfurt.
It had been a fast, furious and exhausting 24 hours.
And we can't wait to do it again.