Recently, Reuzer were commissioned to create a video for Perenco across two locations, their offices in Norwich and the gas processing facility at Bacton.
A few weeks prior to filming, Ian politely asked if I was interested in attending on one of those two days.
For those of you who know me (or if you read this article here) you’ll likely be aware that I am a keen photographer and that I have also dabbled with some video production. So having been asked this question, I immediately perked up and whole heartedly agreed. Though what made this opportunity even better, was that I was able to attend the day in which we visited the Bacton Gas Terminal.
Due to my creative background, this visit ticked several boxes. Having created 3D models of valves, distillation towers, flanges and miles upon miles of piping, it was an insightful trip to actually see this equipment first hand instead of just from reference imagery and on a digital monitor.
The one takeaway point from this element was realising the scale of equipment, which I never really appreciated when I was modelling everything in 3D. I understood that things where large, but you don’t fully comprehend it, until it’s right in-front of you. And it was really right in front of me.
Also, another box was ticked, as I was able to see how a professional videographer goes about capturing footage and how their creative process works. When I made my videos, all I had was a camera and one lens. However when Ian arrived at 7am to collect me, and as I climbed into the back of the car to make the journey to Bacton, you could hardly see out the rear window as it was stacked full of production equipment. That’s when I realised this was going to be serious. Reuzer don’t mess about 😆
We arrived at Bacton early, and as I walked through security a slight hint of déjà vu came over me, though that was probably because a few years ago, I was part of a team that helped produce the site induction animation for employees and visitors. And as fate would have it, upon arrival I too had to watch this induction. It was nice seeing my work being utilised in the real world.
Even though I was mainly an observer, I tried to be aware and as alert as possible to what the day’s schedule was. However with the presence of dark clouds slowly making their way across the county, we knew we had to move swiftly to best utilise this window.
So we got to work. The first port of call was unpacking and making sure that everything was safe to use on-site, and that we all followed protocols. And as cameras and microphones were sent off for inspections in order to issue permits, we sorted our PPE. Unfortunately they didn’t have my colour, however I was pretty sure I could still pull off orange.
Once we were given the green light, the first thing on the list was to head across to the control room and set-up lighting and check location angles in preparation for when the talent arrived.
This part of the process can take a while, especially with moving equipment through corridors in such a safety-critical location. But mainly because it’s about ‘fine tuning’ everything for the look the videographer is going for, and this often requires a lot of micro adjustments. In addition, we couldn’t forget we were operating in a live environment, and at any point we were told we might have to step aside and quickly remove all the equipment.
It was at this point that I understood the reason for the amount of equipment needed. Florescent office ceiling lights are definitely not flattering, so having access to your own lighting allows you to shape and create a cinematic feel, and trust me – this requires a certain level of detail and patience to achieve.
While waiting for the talent to arrive and with the presence of rain getting closer and closer, we decided to go on-site to film as much as possible. It was at this point that I realised the privilege that was granted to me, given access to an incredible location that most people will never see, maybe not even employees of Perenco.
As mentioned earlier, knowing my interest in photography and being an extra pair of capable hands, I was given the task of capturing some behind the scenes images of the production. I was a little nervous initially but settled into the task once I’d pressed the shutter button a few times.
But, as security informed us that our interviewee had arrived, we headed back to the control room to capture a short interview with the Perenco SNS General Manager. After this, it was time to head back on-site. Having been lucky with the weather up until this point of the day, we could feel the rain in the air, and we knew we had to move as fast as we could to capture the remaining shots on our shot list.
For me I quite like this type of image capturing, when things are fast paced and you have to ‘hunt’ for angles it’s quite exciting, and on this occasion we also had to make sure that we weren’t walking in front of the camera or even a gas detector.
This experience was enlightening and has given me great respect to those like Ashley at Stitch, having to juggle so many elements throughout the day. From remembering and keeping track of film equipment, shot lists, lighting set-up, charging batteries, equipment selection, and working with clients on-set – there’s so much to keep on top of.
All in all, this was definitely a valuable lesson and the main take-away point from the day would be; no matter how much you prepare and plan, a spanner will always be thrown in the works! But, if you think clearly and communicate with those around you, there’s always a way around it, and sometimes you can use that spanner to your advantage!
Article credit: Nicholas Smith. Photography: Nicholas Smith.