Documentary Production Workshops

Your chance to do this!

Northern Lights workshops and tours every Jan Feb.

Tornado, lightning and severe storm workshops and tours every May/June.

Arizona Monsson lightning photo and video tours, August each year.

Want to improve your video skills, yet don’t fancy a dull workshop in an uninteresting studio or training centre? Then this trip might just be for you.

Join Alister Chapman on the learning adventure of a lifetime. Over the course of a week  Alister will help you improve your video production skills through a series of workshops and one to one training sessions. You will have the challenge of producing a short documentary film about the week, through this challenge you will be able to hone your existing skills or lean new skills. The really unique feature of the course is the subject matter: Extreme Weather!

Every Spring the Mid-West of the USA is struck by devastating and deadly thunderstorms that produce incredible lightning, giant hail and even tornadoes. Alister Chapman is a highly respected storm chaser and he has combined his video production skills with his passion for natural extremes to produce weather shows for Discovery, National Geographic and the BBC.

Guided by Alister the workshops will take place out in the field, on-location, as the group tracks severe storms. The weather systems that will be followed will give amazing opportunities to try out things like timelapse and cache record. You will need to work out (Alister’s assistance) how you are going to tell the story of the groups adventure. As it is likely that not every day will be an active storm chasing day you will need to consider how to deal with such days in your short film. There will be opportunities to experiment with mini-cams and POV cameras as well as a range of other cameras.

Shooting a Supercell Storm

The workshops that will be included* during the trip are:

Choosing the right camera: Sensor size and lenses.

Documentary Sound Recording.

Fundamentals of good camera work: White Balance, Exposure, Focus.

Documentary Story Telling.

Advanced Camera Techniques: Gamma, Detail and Color settings.

Advanced Shooting Methods: Timelapse, Cache Record, POV cameras.

Basic Editing with FCP and/or Premier Pro.

As Alister will be on-hand at all times during the day, there will be plenty of opportunities to ask questions and get one to one help on any aspects of video production not covered in a workshop that are troubling you.

Lightning, Hail and Tornadoes await.

*As this is both a video workshop and a storm chasing adventure the number of workshops and their duration cannot be guaranteed. However it should be noted that the more interesting the weather is then the more chances there will be to shoot in exciting and unusual circumstances. The tour organisers are unable to predict exactly what the weather will be like ahead of the tour. However statistically in the Spring it is likely that in any one week period there will be at least two days of severe weather.

The cost: For each participant there is a charge of $2450 USD payable in advance for the workshops, on tour travel and accommodation.  Then there is an additional fee of $400 USD for the video workshops and training. The accommodation will be arranged each day by the tour leaders and mid-range hotel chains are used.

What to bring? If at all possible you should bring your own video camera, we do not provide equipment with the exception of the mini-cams which can be used from time to time during the trip. A tripod and a microphone with a cable or wireless connection are good to have. We can advise each individual once a place has been reserved on exactly what to bring. You should have T-Shirts as it will be hot, but also long trousers as there are many bugs in the grass verges that we often stop on. You should also have a rain and windproof jacket. Camera rain covers are optional, we don’t tend to shoot in the rain due to the enhanced lightning risk.

Is it dangerous? You must understand that you are paying for the video training, not the storm chasing. If you choose you may opt out of the storm chasing and just join us at the workshops. You would need your own vehicle if you wish to do this. Storm chasing is potentially extremely dangerous. However Alister has over 10 years of experience and has intercepted almost 70 hurricanes and tornadoes without injury. The tour leaders will not be taking un-necessary risks. The aim will be to get into positions relative to the storms for the best photo and video opportunities, not necessarily as close as possible! Clearly in the worst case scenario a member or members of the group could be struck by lightning, hit by debris from a tornado, injured or killed. You do need to understand that severe storms are extremely dangerous. However through the use of highly accurate satellite based data and weather forecasting systems, skill and experience, the risks will be minimised and safety will be top priority.  It is almost unheard of for storm chasers to be injured whilst in pursuit of storms.

5 thoughts on “Documentary Production Workshops”

  1. Hi alister
    I am mohammad from lebanon and living in qatar i am a camera man from 7 years ago and using the ex3cam before 3 years ago i like to learn more and more about this cam i need that realy so plz can you send to me more information about the 2012 trip
    Best regard

    1. If you get the Fujinon ACM-21 or MTF B4 to EX3 adapter you can use a huge range of 2/3″ B4 lenses on the EX3. However these won’t have auto focus. These lenses can be expensive to buy, but there are plenty available for rental. Zoom ranges unto 44x with 2x doublers are available.

      Autofocus is not considered a professional function on broadcast cameras so it’s not commonly available.

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Cinematographer and film maker Alister Chapman's Personal Website