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In DitoGear™ Spotlight #18 we are sharing an exceptional timelapse film by Maciej Tomków. “Treasures of Zakynthos” shows the most outstanding places in one of the Greek islands – Zakynthos.
And what’s your latest project? Share your interesting stories in the next spotlight.
Natalia Brząkała: Tell us a little bit about the background of the production. Why did you choose this specific island?
Maciej Tomków: It all started from Dream Walker project about rope jumping – it is a series of 80 expeditions, with technical participants invited form all over the world. 3rd edition took place at Navagio “Shipwreck” Beach. I was shooting timelapses for their documentary film produced by Cam-L Studio. I was really excited to visit such a beautiful place. I didn’t plan to make my own, independent film from the beginning. The idea had came up couple of days after we came back from Zakynthos. We left the island before the New Moon, I missed the best chance to capture Milky Way over Navagio Beach and many other magical places. I saw a photography of Milky Way over the Shipwreck from local photographer – Nick Kontostavlakis.
I was amazed. I started to search on Vimeo, Youtube if there is any footage like that and I didn’t find any. This motivated me, made me wanna come back and produce short timelapse film – a 5 minute journey in the most epic places of the island. Zakynthos is not only Navagio Shipwreck, there are many many more great, unexplored places and landscapes!
NB: Your previous film ‘Warsaw Halla‘ is a combination of live action, slow motion and timelapse shots – what’s the reason of presenting Zakynthos only through timelapse technique? What’s so special about this technique?
MT: Timelapse cinematography allows to discover processes which are almost not visible by human eye. This technique is perfect for shooting landscapes, architecture, cityscapes, nature and passing of time. A great technique for promotion of regions. I love to capture time, travel and stay hours in one epic place to get the shot.
Additionally DSLR cameras offer shooting in 5K+ resolution and RAW file format – this means – huge amount of information and details, sharp and crisp image. Timelapses are full of motion and colours – I love this technique.
NB: How many days had you been shooting and how much footage you managed to record during that time?
MT: 28 days of shooting and 3TB of data – I took 150 shots of Zakynthos including scenery during day, night, sunrises and sunsets, day to night and night to day.
NB: How many nights did you spend alfresco? What about your sense of security during that time?
MT: We stayed 15 nights under the sky and felt totally safe. Zakynthos is a very small island – about 40 km long and 20 km wide, 40.000 of residents. There is plenty of tourist in Zante, Laganas and few other small cities, but no living soul at places where we’ve been to.
NB: What film equipment did you use in this project?
MT: I used multiple cameras: Canon 6D, 5D Mark III, 5D Mark II 7D with Canon L and Samyang lenses. For motion controlled timelapses I had disposition of DitoGear™ OmniSlider Servo 2m, DitoGear™ OmniHead and two DitoGear™ LensDrive units – one for zoom and one for focus. All the axis were controlled by DitoGear™ Evolution.
I also used DitoGear™ DryEye kit to prevent the dew.
Many of shots wouldn’t be possible without DitoGear™. Shooting with DitoGear™ Evolution means endless possibilities – it allowed me to create unique motion for each shot including dolly, pan and tilt, zoom and focus. All is limited to the imagination of the cinematographer. The interface is very pleasant and easy to use.
NB: How did you manage to take such heavy equipment with you?
MT: On the first trip to Zakynthos with Dream Walker and Cam-L Studio we transported film equipment with VW Transporter – we had enough space to pack our toys.
Next one was on my own and I booked flight tickets. I had no problem to take 100KG of equipment on a plane. I called the airlines first and asked if it’s possible. I thought it would be a problem to take 2.5M long box with slider and other accessories, but they agreed.
I had to pay extra.
NB: Please describe your favourite and the most demanding shot from the film.
MT: Navagio “Shipwreck” impressed me, but a place called Korakonissi it’s beyond that. It’s a huge rock on the sea with a hole – an arch actually. I call this “Gates of Korakonissi”. It’s very special because you can spot two faces formed under the arch. It’s on west side of Zakynthos, a very dark place, no light pollution at all. We spent two nights at this place. My first take was an extreme wide shot during night from opposite cliffs. I planned another one – an 8 hours long motion controlled day to Milky Way timelapse with the camera placed right under the arch. I wanted to start this shot at 4:00 PM to get some sunset feeling. We arrived at 2:00 PM to prepare everything. This one took a lot of effort. It was not easy to get in there with all our gear. We parked about 200 meters from the rock and from this point had to walk all the way down the path which was steep, narrow and rocky. We did 4 courses to transport all equipment needed, once we’ve got there – we had to stay there all night long. One of the most epic shots I’ve done in my life.
NB: How much time did you spend on post-production?
MT: Post-production was a tough work. 380 hours spent on RAW postprocessing, additional corrections, retouch, image stabilization, deflickering, editing and color grading. The most time took postprocessing of day/night transitions – these are the most demanding. It really takes time to create perfect look – smooth change in exposure and white balance during the shot.
NB: What’s your overall impression about the final shape of this project?
MT: I have never done shots so good. I’m the first person who captured Milky Way at Navagio Shipwreck and Korakonissi in timelapse – this still makes me excited. I did too much shots, I have a feeling the film could be a little bit shorter, just the middle part. It hurts when you have so much footage and you can’t use every single sequence. I should definitely focus more on planning next time – I will save a lot time in post-production. I gained a lot of experience working on this project, especially with day/night transitions – always had problems with those, but no more. A lot of effort on this piece, but it was worth it. Making this film wouldn’t be possible without all the people who were involved and helped in shooting – I owe them a lot.
NB: What’s your final impression about Zakynthos? Would you like to go back there in the near future? What’s the best about this place?
MT: Zakynthos is one of the best places I’ve ever been to. It’s full of beautiful landscapes, beaches and places. It’s not only Navagio “Shipwreck” Beach. I want to go back there, but for holidays – no shooting this time. I still haven’t visited east side of the island, still stays unexplored for me. Greece is very photogenic overall and people are very kind, I received a lot of help from them. There are many many more islands – about 3000 I think. I’m just wondering what they are hiding?
NB: What is the next big thing for you?
MT: My future plans is to get more and more experience in direction of photography, steadicam and also timelapse. I will definitely make next timelapse project. I’m thinking about some places, but I won’t tell anything more.
NB: Maciej, Thanks for your time and congratulations for the Vimeo Staff Pick, well deserved!