Phelps Harmon is a video producer who travels light and works fast. Elm Media recently hired Phelps to shoot a series of interviews for Citi Velocity, a subscription information service from CitiBank. “I shot 15 interviews in two days,” explained Phelps. “It was at a conference in St. Petersberg, Florida. There was political content and this was actually during Super Tuesday, so we had to turn around the material lighting fast.”
Phelps flew in the day before with a pair of Sony FS7 cameras, a small sound kit, some Lightpanels and Dedo lights, and a Convergent Design Apollo. “It’s really important for me to travel light and efficient as I don’t have time to pick up gear when I fly into a new town,” noted Phelps. “Apollo really helps with that. I can slip it into a camera bag pocket and go. No way can I fly around with a large traditional switcher.”
It’s really important for me to travel light and efficient as I don’t have time to pick up gear when I fly into a new town. Apollo really helps with that.
Most interviews were one-on-one, with a close-up of the subject and a wider two-shot of the interviewer and subject. Delivery was in HD over the Citi Velocity web service, and Phelps was often able to edit the interviews while shooting using the Apollo’s Live-Switch mode. “The interviews would last about 5-10 minutes each. I had the timelines ready to go in Premiere, including the lower thirds and other graphics. When I’m Live-Switching it really puts me into the content and it’s a lot of fun. If I get it right the first time then it’s basically done. But of course I have the native signals from each camera recorded in Apollo as well, so nothing is set in stone. For most of the interviews the post process would fly right by, maybe taking as long as the interview itself plus another 5-10 minutes. I could usually wrap them up in the time before the next interview subject arrived. The only thing I had to really think about was a fresh title for each interview!”
At least one interview needed an especially quick turnaround. “Charlie Cook is a ‘DC insider’ and it was a big deal that we had timely content from him on Super Tuesday. I Live-Switched his interview and the client watched it with me while I ingested into Premiere. We had him up on their website in under an hour.”
As smooth as Phelps tries to make the interview process run, sometimes he gets thrown a curveball. “At the last minute they gave me two subjects to be shot together, but I only had the two cameras with me. Luckily I could switch the FS7 cameras into 4K and the Apollo into Dual-4K recording. I shot the subjects in a two-shot and then extracted two HD singles in post. Even though I had to post-edit that interview, Apollo recording the two cameras in sync with matching timecode in ProRes helped speed the process.”
Phelps pointed out an additional benefit to shooting with Apollo. “Not only is it a lot more enjoyable to do the work by using Apollo, but it becomes something of a lifestyle change. Last year I did a similar shoot in Park City, Utah and I never left the hotel room because I was editing nonstop. This time I had plenty of free time to relax once the shoot was done, hanging out at a lovely resort in St. Petersberg.”
Phelps Harmon is an award winning producer and cinematographer based in New York. His work has been screened at Cannes, the Berlinale, & SXSW and seen on ESPN, Fox Sports, ABC, Discovery, & Bloomberg. He recently shot Glory Daze: The Life and Times of Michael Alig, which won the 2015 Manhattan Film Festival. More on Phelps can be found at phelpsharmon.com or Instagram @phelpsharmon.