Sachtler a Hit on “West Coast Customs”

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Shelton, Connecticut, December 17, 2013 --

The hit vehicle-build reality show, “West Coast Customs”, which airs on Fox Sports, documents luxury automotive restyling work as it is done by the team at the world-famous shop in Corona, California. While much of the cinematic style is handheld, shots that require tripod-mounted cameras must allow the operator to mimic the handheld look, which by its very nature is unsteady. But at the same time, movement must be dampened enough so that a long lens can be used for close-ups from a distance.   “You have to be filming like a documentarian to get the best shots, to tell the best story,” says the program’s DP Kristoffer May. “I think that’s the constant struggle when you are running around trying to document something very run and gun, and yet capture a cinematic look like a narrow depth of field that requires a long lens.”   May started using Sachtler’s Ace L tripod while shooting the current season’s episodes. He applauds the simplicity of the pan and tilt drag settings, which provide three settings for each, plus a zero setting which has no drag at all. “All you need is something light and something heavy, so this gets it done without having too many bells and whistles.”   The program’s producer, Kara Stephens, who also shoots on the show, pointed out that the Ace L gives them a small tripod and head that can be easily moved around, but without performance sacrifice. “Most lightweight tripods are weak, and you just don’t get good movement. The Ace L bridges the gap between size and performance: it’s nice and it’s small and it’s lightweight, but it has the pan and tilt feel of larger tripod.”   May has also begun to incorporate the Sachtler artemis Handheld camera stabilizer into the production. “We already had handheld shots, tripod support for the cinematic look, and sliders for a dolly look. But we were missing one last tool in our arsenal: the ability to walk around the car. The artemis Handheld gives me that.”   He mounts one of the show’s 5D HDSLRs with a Canon 16-35mm zoom, balances it on the artemis Handheld, and keeps it docked on a stand and ready to go. “When I need it, it’s ready to grab, with no need for a vest. In this hectic environment I’ve got the ability to go anywhere in the shop and get a smooth, steady, floating shot.”   The new season of " West Coast Customs" premieres in February. For more information on Sachtler, visit

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