For two weeks in July we camped out in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where we endured the unbearable heat of a typical south Asian summer and a factory without air conditioning, to examine through the lens of our Canon 7D, the extraordinary hand craftsmanship of the artisans at Theodore Alexander's furniture plant.
Despite being soaked before we arrived daily, we were able to capture with our Zeiss and Canon prime and macro lenses, the extreme close-up detail of the skilled craftsmen there -- working in wood, wax, metal, and in the many aspects of finishing. It might have been a sweat shop for us, but the experience busted all perceptions we had about the skills and treatment of these extraordinary artisans. It also convinced us that the HDSLR is the future.
We brought our own 7Ds from NYC after realizing that no one in the country was shooting or renting HDSLRs locally. It was a real eye-opener for our Vietnamese crew, who, by the way, was one of the hardest working crews we've ever worked with. BTW, it was so hot and humid in the factory, our biggest issue, besides the language difference, was dealing with an extremely sticky Glidetrack.
Camera: Canon EOS 7D shooting 1920X1080 24fps
Lenses: Canon 100mm/2.8 L IS Macro
Zeiss 50mm/1.4 Planar T
Canon 16-35mm/2.8 L II
Lighting: HMI 1200 Fresnel, HMI 1200 Par, HMI 650 Fresnel, Kino Flo Micro Flo
Editing: Final Cut Pro
Motion Graphics: Adobe After Effects
Color Grading: Final Cut Pro and Magic Bullet Colorista II
To help separate the detail of the craftwork from often chaotic backgrounds, we wanted to keep the depth-of-field as shallow as possible, so we chose relatively high-wattage lighting for this type of project to keep a minimum f-stop while maintaining an ISO below 320. Shutter speed was always 1/50th of a second to approximate the motion blur of the common cinematic look, but conveniently, that shutter speed was also necessary to dial out the flicker coming from the overhead fluorescent lighting in the factory powered by the standard 50Hz AC in Vietnam.
Producer: Tim Miller
Director: Tim Miller
Cinematographer/editor: Tim Guetterman
Original score: Bob Hart
Vietnam crew: Crea TV
New York company: Big Chief Entertainment
Client Executive Producer Harvey Dondero
Client Creative Director: Lizzy Fruendel
Client Producer: Chau Nguyen
Client Associate Producer: Tran Nguyen