Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


Camera 4, Where Are You?: Missing in Action and Presumed Dead

Fifty years ago, I was a boy with a Bolex—just one camera. On the way to work, I’d walk past Miller’s garage. I’d wave or drop in and chat about my Bolex and their wooden tripods.

How it all changes. Today I’m shooting with 10 cameras. It’s 3D, so it looks like five, but really it’s 10. I have four camera-pairs, while Brandon, my ’copter pilot, has two Sony HDR-AS100 Action Cams. We’ve modified the rig so much, he needs a toothpick to get them started.

Cam 1

It’s a Sony HXR-NX3D1. I have carefully set it up on a tripod for a wide-angle 3D shot of the ship.

Suddenly I notice the tripod has been picked up and moved away by some helpful volunteer. I dash over, reposition it and start it running.

Cam 4

While I’m doing this, Franz, driving the forklift, is picking up frame 36 bearing cam 4—a 3D GoPro—clamped to the wood.

“Stop, stop! Franz, my camera isn’t running! I need to start it. Can you put the frame down?”

“Sorry Stefan, no can do. Jessie, get a ladder for Stefan.”

I’m already out of breath and I have to climb a tall ladder. With Jessie’s help, I reach the top and grab the 3D GoPro. First, turn it on. Next, start it running. Lights flashing, great. Reposition it down. “Got it! Thanks, Franz!”

Cam 2

I clamber down the stepladder and walk over to cam 2. (“Walk” because I’m out of breath. You can see me in the video: hat, red T-shirt, brown shorts.)

Camera 2 is really two GoPro HERO4s and a 3D plastic case. HERO4s are not meant for 3D. I have to start each one individually and then fit them one by one into the 3D case. All this time, Franz is lifting and swinging frame 36 with cam 4 towards the keel. Finally, I have cam 2’s cameras up and running and in the 3D case. I walk over and position it right on the keel, flat on its back, looking up.

Nic, a volunteer carpenter, tells me I can’t put it there. “It will be in the way.” “Richard knows it’s here. Nic, please, please, don’t touch it.”

Franz and Richard have frame 36 above the keel. Richard takes a moment to move cam 2 into the perfect position. Thanks, Richard. You’re a star.

Cam 3

This is my handheld camera, another Sony NX3D1. I go back, pick it up and get there just as Jessie and Richard struggle to push frame 36 into its rightful place.

Cam 5

Cam 5 is on the quadcopter gimbal. I can see Brandon’s ’copter is in the air. In fact, he buzzed me while I was up on the ladder. Very funny, Brandon.

Camera 4, Where Are You?

Back at my editing base, I use Apple FCP X to sync up the five left and right pairs and then multicam them all together.

And you know what? Pesky cam 4 looked really good for a minute but wobbled loose, swung over and photographed the roof of the tent. Useless. Win some, lose some.

You can see “Frame 36” in 2D and 3D at and