Rodney Charters pressed for time with the Video 18

Rodney Charters


Director and Producer Alicia Brauns recently had a very personal story to tell about her father’s journey from holocaust survivor to well-known surgeon. To depict that journey and Dr. Jack Brauns’ positive outlook on life, she turned to her favorite cinematographer, Rodney Charters, ASC. The two knew they would be covering an extensive amount of ground, from inside the infamous camps to the journey through Germany and beyond – in a short shooting time. They had to build their shooting package carefully so they chose Canon C300s supported by a Video 18 S1 fluid head and legs from Sachtler, part of Vitec Videocom, a Vitec Group company.

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“The Sachtler Video 18 S1s were perfect for shooting The Mosaic of Life. They did not drag or weigh us down. We had to move through locations quickly. The clock was always ticking.”

Rodney Charters

Easy to transport with every set-up

“We chose three Canon C300s to CF cards at 4:2:2 with either Angenieux 15 to 40mm, or 45 to 120mm lenses on A and B camera,” explains Charters. “For C-camera we used various EOS Canon lenses, 8 to 15, 24 to 105, and 70 to 300. We chose not to add anything additional because we wanted to be able to move quickly. Each camera package weighed in at about eight pounds.”

“When Rodney came to us with this project, it sounded exciting,” says Tobias Keuthen, Marketing Manager for Sachtler. “We wanted to do all we could to help him tell this story. It was important to him to have a solid documentary-friendly tripod and head, since he knew that they would be on their own in remote locations. We decided the Video 18 S1 was the perfect choice, allowing him to handle the lightweight camera package with ease, and move as quickly as he needed to move.”

“I remembered the Video 18 from my 16SR days coupled with a set of carbon fiber legs and integrated spreader,” says Charters. “It has a handle and when folded, it is easily carried in one hand, allowing the other hand to carry camera and lens. Or, it can be elegantly shouldered with the camera and tripod. It turned out to be the perfect match, just enough strength to support the longer lenses. And with its good viscosity, it could also easily handle lens heights from the ground up to six feet.”

Reliable under pressure of time

“The Sachtler Video 18 S1s were perfect for shooting The Mosaic of Life on location in Germany because they were compact and easy to transport,” Brauns agrees. “They did not drag or weigh us down. We had to move through locations quickly. The clock was always ticking.”

It was that ability to pick up and move that helped Charters and Brauns get the amount of material they needed in the time allowed. Often times they would pull up to a location, pull their package out of their transportation, grab a few shots and move on quickly. “In Kaufering, Germany, for example, we saw a great opportunity for visual content in the train tracks not far off the road,” Brauns says. “The Sachtler’s ball-head mount made it very fast and easy to level the camera on a steep hillside right next to the tracks. We could not do it without the Sachtler Video 18 S1 because we had to get everything out of the way if a train approached.”

It is the Video 18’s unique counterbalance system that became one of the key factors in choosing Sachtler for this project. It allows for optimal alignment in no time at all. This way Charters could pick up and move to another angle or location, set his equipment down for the shot, and be ready to capture what Brauns needed immediately. The modern and lightweight fabrication makes this medium weight support extremely stable and functional. While Charters’ package weighed in at about eight pounds, the Video 18 S1 could have handled payloads up to forty pounds, should he have needed to add anything to his camera.

A encouragement to live: the mosaic of life

The Mosaic of Life is an inspirational documentary depicting the life and positive philosophy of Dr. Jack Brauns, surgeon and Holocaust survivor, who reveals how even the worst circumstances can still allow life’s colors to shine and illuminate even the most hopeless among us. Unlike other Holocaust films, this documentary is an empowering film encouraging light, redemption and restoration. The project will be completed by 2014.