Challenging environments come second nature to Ben Marlow. The London-based DoP has developed a reputation for fast-paced action on land or sea with unique style that has won him an impressive portfolio of high-profile clients: Clients who expect nothing short of perfection to capture the hearts and minds of their audience.
For Ben, the stakes couldn’t be higher, challenging or remote environments often mean there is only one chance to get the perfect shot his clients demand, so reliable equipment that won’t let him down in the field –or sea or sky - is essential. For Sachtler, Ben was the perfect candidate to turn to for some real-world endurance testing for the flowtech75 before its launch in September 2017.
Ben took up the challenge to put flowtech75 to the test. “When I received the early prototype I was blown away by the engineering that had gone into it.” said Ben, “Sachtler really do think of filmmakers’ every need right down to the smallest detail, from the hinge locks at the top of the tripod to the magnets on the legs.” He adds, “Having the hinge locks at the top means I don’t have to have my hands far away from my RED camera, this is the game changing part for me, I can quickly change to any height while keeping my gear safe and stable”.
Being involved with the Sachtler team from the beginning was an eye-opening experience for Ben. “I visited the site where they build flowtech and was amazed at how stringent and thorough their testing environment is. He said, “Seeing flowtech tested in sludge, sand and extreme temperatures made me appreciate just how much these sticks can take out in the field, I was amazed.”
Since receiving a flowtech75 two years ago, Ben’s skills have been in demand, working with high-end fashion and corporate shoots for clients such as Radley, Hulu and England Netball. Ben says, “On one occasion I was shooting on the beach in Marbella for a swimwear brand so naturally there was a lot of sand and water involved! The flowtech was completely submerged in the water several times but it remained completely stable and quickly dried out in the sun afterwards. The sand and sea water posed no problem at all. All we have to do was rinse through the tripod and we were good to go for the next day.” He adds, “Over the past two years, I’ve used it in the sea, rivers and salt lakes, in the back of the van, on top of the van and even underwater!” adding, “It is still as smooth and fast as the first time I used it.”
Ben’s flowtech75 tripod has become part of his essential ‘go-to gear’ “On every occasion, whatever the challenge, I know that flowtech is always ready to perfectly position my camera, so I can focus on getting the shot I need” Says Ben, summing up, “There is simply nothing else like it!”.
For Luke Thomas, an Australian by birth and Californian by profession, sea and sand is also never far away. “Yes I live at the beach and shooting around California your camera gear is always going to come into contact with sand at some point.” Says Luke, “Over the past two years, I have had my flowtech deep in salt water and partially buried in sand and despite my best efforts it still works like new.”
As a freelance news and documentary cameraman, Luke races from location to location to capture fast-breaking stories with tight deadlines for live broadcast. Sachtler called on Luke during the research and development process to put flowtech to a ‘speed under pressure’ test.
“These days, speed is critical,” says Luke. “The biggest change I have noticed in my line of work in recent years is how one cameraman is now often juggling several cameras at once. I work on a lot of multi-camera interview based shoots where I will operate two or three cameras and have to move quickly from one setup to the next. The benefits of flowtech in this scenario is that it’s light and fast. If I am setting up a multi-camera interview then rushing to the next scene to grab some B roll my tripod is the last thing I want to be thinking about, I just need it to be light, fast and reliable and flowtech ticks all those boxes for me. flowtech is the first piece of equipment on my mind in a grab and go situation.”
Designed to be the world’s fastest deploying tripod, flowtech features revolutionary quick release brakes at the top of the tripod to easily deploy and quickly adjust the tripod legs in an instant without leaving your camera position. For Luke, this feature has changed the way he shoots. “When I first used the flowtech on a shoot with multiple setups at a variety of heights I quickly came to appreciate how great the position of the clamp lock is for getting my camera into the perfect position fast. I don’t know why nobody thought of this sooner.”
“I film for a variety of different shows and it's great to have a set of sticks that has me covered for every situation, whether I need to get up high above the pack at a press conference or red carpet in L.A or drop down nice and low when shooting B roll. I have also found the way the legs operate without the spreader can be really useful in awkward uneven ground like stairs, rocks etc. It’s quick and easy to get your sticks in the most unusual places.”
Although the speed and agility of flowtech has been a real game changer when it comes to Luke’s workflow, just like Ben, Luke has been impressed by its ability to withstand any environment. “I am always satisfied with how well the flowtech handles the elements.” Says Luke, “Whenever I’m shooting in or around water and sand it's nice to know that I don't have to worry about my tripod. Having the confidence that I can beat up my flowtech in dirty, wet and sandy conditions and it will still work perfectly is great. He adds “Knowing that all I need to do is hose it off and it'll be working like new tomorrow is just unreal.”