Bjorn recently put his gear from Anton/Bauer, Litepanels, OConnor, Sachtler, SmallHD, and Teradek to work on a large, multi-segment commercial shoot for Ladder, an all-new brand of health and fitness products from LeBron James, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Cindy Crawford, and Lindsey Vonn.
Renowned filmmaker and DP Bjorn Amundsen traces his visual arts career to his beginnings as a print and motion graphic designer. From there, he moved into still photography and then, ultimately, to video. “I was working on projects combining motion graphics, visual effects, and photography, but once I got into video, I realised that was my sweet spot,” he says. “I started focusing on visual storytelling, spurred on by the Canon 5D revolution. The beautiful images that came out of that camera really changed the way I thought about video, and eventually, I migrated to a Canon 7D and moved on from there.”
Today, Bjorn is known for his music videos, commercial work, and stunning short films highlighting social injustices from around the world. He also volunteers his services to nonprofit organizations that need help telling their stories.
Throughout his journey, Bjorn has always depended on gear from Anton/Bauer, Litepanels, Sachtler and OConnor.
As Bjorn was hired to work on ever-larger video productions, he began to notice the prevalence of gear from Anton/Bauer, OConnor, and Sachtler. “At first, I didn’t realise these products were part of the broader Vitec Group family. But the common thread I have found with all of them is that they are dependable, well-designed and well-built, and more enjoyable to use,” he notes.
“All of the frustrations I had with lower-quality gear were simply washed away when I discovered Vitec Group brands.”
Now, for every project, Bjorn relies on LED lighting from Litepanels, mobile power from Anton/Bauer, camera support gear from OConnor and Sachtler, and wireless monitoring technology from both Teradek and SmallHD.
Bjorn put almost all gear to the test on his latest project, a commercial series for health and fitness company Ladder.
Founded by LeBron James, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Cindy Crawford, and Lindsey Vonn, Ladder is a new subscription-based, direct-to-consumer company that offers supplements and other wellness products. Bjorn was brought on as DP by his long-time collaborator, director Blaine Hogan, for a series of nine promotional videos – including a one-minute overview spot and two focusing on each of the four celebrity founders.
Shooting on location in the founders’ private homes as well as a beach and a gym, Bjorn turned to his two Litepanels Astra 6X Bi-Color LED panels to create the desired lighting effects. “Since we were shooting at a variety of indoor and outdoor locations, I knew my Astras would give me the flexibility I needed,” he explains. “Astra is truly a workhorse, and I take it on every shoot – even when there are other much larger lights on set.”
Commenting on Astra’s versatility, Bjorn adds, “Astra is fully featured enough to either match the colour temperature of the environment or to provide light-colour temperature contrast. It can be punchier, or I can put it through a diffusion frame or attach a soft box to create a nice soft light. Astra is small enough to tuck into a corner, and I love that it can be battery operated and controlled from my phone.”
Bjorn used his go-to Sachtler Video 18 S2 fluid head and ENG2 carbon-fibre tripod to support his standard Arri Alexa camera kit. “The Video 18 S2 and the ENG2 are a great combination. The tripod is really robust for its size and weight, and I really appreciate how easy it is to move from low to high shots with any payload. And the SpeedLevel clamp is amazing – it makes levelling the camera a breeze; just squeeze it, level it, and let go. The SpeedLevel attracts a lot of attention from my ACs and other people on set because it’s so unusual and versatile.”
The 703 Bolt HD wireless monitor system from Teradek and SmallHD was another essential component on the Ladder shoot, providing a highly compact and mobile director’s monitor. “I love this product – it’s so beautifully integrated into a lightweight and seamless package instead of the usual Frankenstein of cables, mounts, cages, and other monitor equipment,” Bjorn comments.
For mobile power, Bjorn relied on his Cine 90 and Cine 150 Gold Mount batteries from Anton/Bauer, together with the LP4 Quad Gold Mount charger.
“Of course, I know I can always count on my Anton/Bauer batteries. They are robust, dependable, and last forever, and the LP4 charger is fantastic because it charges up to four batteries super-fast. I love it.”
Bjorn knows he can count on his high-quality gear for his current needs and also innovation to take him into the future.
A case in point is Litepanels’ groundbreaking Gemini 2x1 soft panel. “Gemini is a fantastic product, and I’ve already had a chance to use it; in fact, I had two Geminis out for a project I shot last week,” Bjorn comments. “It’s got incredible punch and tremendous output for its size, and I love how easy it is to set up and use. The range of effects it offers is great, and the way the ballast is integrated into the fixture is really ingenious – it means the light is a lot easier to transport and rig.”