Archive for the ‘Cotton-Top Movie’ Category

C O T T O N – T O P

July 3, 2010 3 comments

The Cotton-Top Tamarin is endemic to Colombia’s Caribbean Coast and it’s critically endangered. Thanks to “Proyecto Titi’s” conservation efforts, the Cotton-Top and the people from the region have an opportunity to succeed. The construction of an airport, however, ma be a big threat.



El Tití Cabecibanco es endémico de la Costa Caribe Colombiana y está en peligro crítico de extinción. Gracias a los esfuerzos de conservación de la Fundación Proyecto Tití, Cabeciblancos y habitantes de la región tienen una oportunidad para salir adelante. Sin embargo, la posible construcción de un aeropuerto puede ser una gran amenaza.

Tarde de lluvia en Pendales, Colombia / Afternoon rain in Pendales, Colombia

April 17, 2010 1 comment

(English below)

En Noviembre de 2009, Federico Pardo y Danny Schmidt realizaron un documental sobre el Tití Cabeciblanco en la Costa Caribe Colombiana. Este primate está en peligro crítico de extinción y la fundación Proyecto Tití está tratando de salvarlo.

Durante la producción siempre compramos frutas en la misma tienda al borde de la carretera. Un día un aguacero nos obligó a sacar las cámaras. Este es el resultado.

Más información sobre el proyecto de conservación en:

In November of 2009 Federico Pardo and Danny Schmidt traveled to Colombia’s Caribbean coast to shoot a documentary on the critically endangered Cotton-top tamarin and the conservation efforts to sustain them.

Each day we would stop to buy fruit from the same roadside stand. On this particular afternoon we were caught in a downpour. This is the edit that resulted.

Check out for more information about the Cotton-top and look for the full length film sometime in May.

Trailer No. 2 – Cotton-Top – Cabeciblancos


Cabeciblancos – Cotton-Top – 01

February 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Este es el primer trailer del documental sobre Titís Cabeciblancos que produje en Colombia en noviembre de 2009.

Here is the first trailer of the Cotton-Tamarin documentary that I produced in Colombia in November 2009.


Ikan Monitor in the Field

January 28, 2010 Leave a comment

During the production of the Cotton-Top movie in Colombia I had the chance to use an IKAN monitor V5600 kit. This 5,6″ field monitor was a great tool for principal photography and it became crucial when operating  the “home-made” jib and for macro-cinematography. Exposure wise is not a balanced monitor but to supervise moves and overall camera work is great.

IKAN's V5600 on the 12ft jib (Photo: Danny Schmidt).

These are the most valued features from the IKAN 5600.

  • Compact size and lightweight.
  • Easy and fast installation.
  • Battery and AC powered.
  • Camera shoe mount support.
  • Comes with ready-to-install cables.
  • HDMI mini component.

However, as with any product, things can always be better. Here are a few things you need to keep in mind if you are using the V5600:

  • It only mounts on a  ¼ 20 screw hole located at the bottom. It would be really helpful to have ¼ 20 screw holes on every side for different mounting options.
  • The monitor works great to achieve critical focus, check the frame and supervise camera motion. However, the brightness of the display is not accurate with that of the “real exposure”.
  • You may want to find a way to protect the 5,6″ screen from scratches, fingerprints, etc. Due to its size it is difficult to find a proper protective transparent adhesive.

Summarizing, I am really satisfied with the V5600 monitor and I would recommend it as a versatile and useful production tool.


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Production Bag – Part 3 – Lighting

December 23, 2009 1 comment

LIGHT IS THE RAW MATERIAL OF A CINEMATOGRAPHER. When I was pre-poducing the Cotton-Top documentary there were a few decisions I had to make regarding the ‘look’ of the film. This relates to how the pictures are going to look and, consequently, which sources of light I was going to use.

LED Litepanels MicroPro used for Fungi-Cinematography (Photo by D.Schmidt)

First of all, taking on account that I was going to be in the field for  only 3 weeks, I knew that I would have to deal with the light of any given environmental conditions. Additionally I didn’t want to give the images an ‘artificial’ look. I wanted to use natural light sources as much as I could  and thus trying to capture the ‘light mood’ of the subject.

A recurrent situation we faced was the canopy diffused light inside the Tropical Dry Forest. The light was usually dim and its color temperature varied rapidly from green shades to yellow and red.

In Colombia‘s Caribbean coast the days are normally bright and hot; if, as a cinematographer, I am able to translate this sensations through images I would consider myself somewhat ‘successful’… Seemingly, set up time and overall production cumbersomeness shouldn’t be an issue.

But lets get to the point. I needed a lightweight and reliable lighting solution that could use daylight or tungsten balanced. The versatile LED Litepanels MicroPro were the ideal tool so I included two of these in my production bag.

Here is a list of what I valued the most of these LED lights:

  • Compact size and lightweight.
  • Battery powered (six AA).
  • Adjustable color temperature using filters (1/4 CTO and white diffuser included).
  • Variable intensity with a dimmer.
  • On-camera support included. Mounts on the camera’s flash shoe.
  • No external cables.

Additional to the LED lights there were other tools/techniques I used to enhance  cinematography.

ISO: The Canon 7D works really well under low light conditions. I shot several sequences at ISO 1600 and they still look beautiful. It is important to keep in mind that noise/grain is a consequence of ISO so you have to expect the footage to be a little bit ‘grainier’. I personally don’t mind the grain as long as I capture the lighting atmosphere of what I am shooting and it becomes the aesthetic of a sequence.

Screen capture of footage shot at ISO 1600 with only natural light coming through a window.

Diffusing light: ambient light can sometime be harsh and difficult to control. Shooting indoors and using doorways and windows as light sources can be very effective and good looking.

Using the diffused light of a door-way can be very effective. (Photo by D.Schmidt)

High-Watt bulbs: although I didn’t get the chance to use the, inside my production bag I had two 200Watt bulbs. These would have been ideal to replace bulbs that were in lamps or ceilings. Sometimes I like the warm and yellowish look of tungsten lights. A 60Watt bulb, however, is rarely enough light. This solution is cheap and easier than carrying huge light kits.

For this production I didn’t use bounces or professional light sources but they are also vital tools for good cinematography.

I hope this is useful and please let me know if you want me to expand on any of these tips.


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