Mark Kluiszo Puts All Eyes on Africa with the AG-AF100

Deep in the bush of Botswana, Mark Kluiszo positions his AG-AF100 against the side of an open air Land Rover, working quickly to capture the swift movements of a pack of African Wild Dogs only 20 feet away.

Mark is shooting with the AF100 to promote Eyes on Africa, a travel business that specializes in organizing and running African safaris. He was contacted by sound designer, Bryen Hensley, (whose wife works for Eyes on Africa) to participate in the project. The company wanted to produce videos that accurately showcased the magnificent wonder and vibrant landscape of its tours.

Owner of Eyes on Africa, James Weis, along with Bryen as sound recordist and Mark as DP/ camera operator, set off to Botswana last summer to capture the essence of a safari experience.

Bryen started researching cameras months before the trip. They were looking at renting a larger camera, but the AF100’s affordable price, feature set and lens interchangeability sealed the deal and James purchased one specifically for the shoot.

“The AF100 performed way beyond expectations. We were on a safari vehicle bouncing around through the wilderness and it held up beautifully,” said Bryen. “It has the look of the DSLR cameras but with all the features I was used to as a shooter for 20 years.”

Besides the lens flexibility, having various built-in ND filters and the ability to open the aperture to adjust the depth of field was beneficial to the project and resulted in stunning visuals.

“The focus assist became a must have for shooting animals in the bush,” Mark said. “It saved my butt several times.”

A lot of the shooting was done from the Land Rover, rendering Mark’s tripod virtually useless. Many of his shots were taken with the AF100 resting on a sandbag. Luckily, the size and weight of the AF100 made shooting this way quite easy.

While the filmmakers were essentially strangers in the African bush, the sheer size of the elephants and alpha mentality of the cats left the animals unafraid of the vehicles.

“We would get so close I could put on a Nikon 80-200mm zoom lens and get nice, tight shots of their eyes,” Mark said. He was also able to capture the speed of these wild cats at a moment’s notice. “The AF100, especially the pre-record capability, allowed me to keep up and not miss the fast-paced action.”

Mark has been editing the footage on Final Cut Pro 7 and everyone involved has been pleased with the results. The footage has been edited for online distribution as well as high-definition B-roll for travel industry trade shows.

James displayed some of the footage recently at a travel convention in LA and found the video to be compelling and incredibly effective, even without completed editing.

“At these trade shows, we are exposed to 10,000 people walking past our booth in one weekend,” he said. “The video has proven to be a very effective marketing tool.”

In fact, about one week after the show the company had already secured bookings. A few people even requested the “Blu-ray DVD” version of the Botswana footage.

“It’s pretty rare for people to make a decision to go to Africa that quickly,” James said. “My gut tells me that I’m definitely getting a return on investment on the camera.”

The trio is set to embark on another location trip, this time to the mountains of Rwanda to film the mountain gorillas of the region.  Ditching the safari vehicles, they will be trekking by foot this time.

“I’m bringing the AF100 again because I’ve seen what it can do and handle and I am not worried,” Mark said. “At least not about the footage I’ll be getting!”

To watch the finalized videos from Eyes on Africa please visit:

http://vimeo.com/eyesonafrica/videos

For more information on Eyes on Africa please visit:

http://www.eyesonafrica.net/

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