HOKKAIDO, JAPAN — When award-winning Australian photographer and writer Shane Peel, moved to Hokkaido, Japan for the production of his debut documentary film “Snowsurf,” Miller Camera Support Equipment, a leader in the production of innovating camera support solutions, was along for the ride to offer its assistance with its Compass 12 Solo 75 Carbon Fibre system.
“The reality of film making is that it’s a whole lot more complex than capturing stills; camera movements are the key to this type of storytelling, which is why I chose to work with Miller’s Compass 12 Solo 75 2-Stage Carbon Fibre system as my primary camera support solution on this project,” Peel says. “Miller tripods and fluid heads have been in my equipment roster since day one. Shooting in Hokkaido, where long hikes in waist-deep snow and negative 30 degree wind chills are the norm and a simple mistake can take your life, means that the equipment decisions have to make sense from the get-go. Working with Miller’s exemplary camera support solutions makes the most sense to me.”
Shane is currently one year into the production of his first full-length film, “Snowsurf,” which is a documentary that dives into the history of a special snowboard subculture that exists in Japan’s northern-most island, Hokkaido. Primarily a surf photographer, Shane is generally used to shooting projects in warmer, more leisurely atmospheres. However, for “Snowsurf,” he says that working in the back-country of one of the world’s snowiest, and sometimes incredibly treacherous, places makes the weight and functionality of his equipment of utmost concern.
Miller’s Compass 12 Solo 75 Carbon Fibre
system consists of the Compass 12 Fluid Head and the ultra light, yet rigid, Solo 75 3-stage Carbon Fibre Tripod. Key features to the system that Peel found particularly useful while shooting through such harsh, snowy conditions include its selectable smooth pan/tilt drags, illuminated bubble level and quick release sliding camera plate with 60mm travel.
“Communications during this project have been difficult. As my crew doesn’t speak a word of Japanese, we are often faced with sudden changes while shooting, because language barriers often hinder the communication between the rider and the crew. For instance, a slow, steady panning shot can turn into a rapid double axis ‘L’ movement in a matter of seconds,” Peel says. “To be able to smoothly adjust the Compass 12 Fluid Head’s movement speed to any of the three pressure options in a moment’s notice has been a real advantage. Additionally, the illuminated bubble level has been incredibly handy, especially when working during the darkening blizzards I often experience! The head is a joy to work with.”
Peel also says that the light weight of the Compass 12 Solo 75 2-Stage Carbon Fibre system has proved essential when he shoots in really remote locations during this project, as the system is very portable. Furthermore, he mentions that the quick release sliding camera plate not only saves time with its efficient locking mechanism but also eliminates unnecessary pack weight.
“I have experienced some amazing days, shooting in unique places that boggle my mind—awesome silver-birch glades, natural hot springs and majestic snow-capped volcanoes are just some of nature’s amazing gifts that I’ve seen,” he says. “And, the defining element, through it all, has been the smooth, clean movement of Miller’s Compass 12 system.”
This is the latest publication in Miller's Sharpshooters series.