Communing with Sharks


Fouad Zayed

At FZ Productions, we like to say that whether the project is on land, in the sea, or on air, we can produce it on a national broadcast level. As case in point, my team and I have just contributed four out of seven episodes for the brand-new, just-aired season of one of the world’s most widely watched and buzz-worthy nature series. Everyone knows what we’re talking about – it’s a week of documentaries focused on sharks in their native habitats around the world. Our contribution to the show’s 2018 edition simply would not have been possible without our kit of products from Litepanels, Sachtler, and Anton/Bauer, all Vitec Production Solutions brands.

The widely anticipated new season aired July 22-28 on one of the world’s most recognized nature networks, and we completed our four episodes in locations as diverse as Texas, Florida, California, Cuba, and Australia. For every show, we relied on four Litepanels Astra 1x1 LED lights powered by Anton/Bauer Cine 150 V-Mount batteries, as well as a Sachtler S1 tripod equipped with a Video 20 fluid head.

Filming apex predators like sharks is not for the faint of heart, and any distraction underwater could cost us our lives. Plus, as some of our filming expeditions take us more than 100 miles offshore – quite a long way from rental houses – so we can’t afford to have any gear malfunctions. We know we can always count on Litepanels, Sachtler, and Anton/Bauer equipment to perform up to our expectations in any conditions. The nature of this work requires us to push the limits of our equipment every single day and in the world’s harshest environments. Vitec Production Solutions products work every time and give us the peace of mind we need.

With mobile power from the always-dependable and long-lasting Anton/Bauer batteries, the Litepanels Astra 1x1 LEDs give us up to eight hours of full-power light. The panels are particularly useful for lighting the boat topside for night scenes, such as when divers emerge from the water after a rendezvous with the sharks.

Just like any Vitec solutions, the lights are incredibly versatile and give us a wealth of options; for instance, at any location on the boat where we need a clean and powerful light source, we can mount an Astra with a Cardellini clamp. One of the fantastic things about the Anton/Bauer batteries is that they can power anything with a V-mount — cameras, lights, and other accessories — and the P-Tap power outlet means we can mount cameras on gimbals and power them without having to having to dangle heavy and cumbersome batteries off the camera itself.  

The rugged Sachtler tripod and fluid head can be submerged in sea water and at depth for truly innovative underwater shooting. In one of the shark episodes, for instance, we were weighted the camera and tripod to keep them on the sea floor at depths up to 60 feet. Then our divers rolled the camera and swam away, leaving the rig to capture natural footage of sharks without the distraction of human cameramen nearby.

Our use of Vitec Production Solutions’ award-winning image capture products on one of America’s most popular wildlife series is another real-world demonstration of the products’ tremendous versatility and ruggedness, especially in extreme and very harsh conditions. We value our partnership with Vitec Production Solutions, and we’re excited about the opportunity to use the solutions in new and innovation ways as we take on our next range of high-profile and action-packed projects.

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