When there are 1000+ people running, we are running ahead of them all
The story tells how SFG’s camera splashes were sparkling during the Ukrainian big sports event — running Half Marathon.
Long time ago in 2010-2012, when SFG was yet not an SFG, we were addicted to creating non-commercial projects. Being young and ambitious almost business people we were not looking for profitable projects only. Having a little free time and a lot of creative ideas we worked our best on photo and video projects about our native city Dnipro, about relationships and people, about the dreams. Here are some of them, which we consider to be worth of the biggest attention: Skyground, Ever-moving city, Про Дніпро. And could we ever dare to think, that in the future these projects will lead us to meeting new, big and rich clients? Of course we could! While working on every, sharply saying, free project we bet on the advantages they will give us: first of all we were gaining lots of practice by trial and fail, which would have been impossible and unprofessional to do when the client actually pays for your experience. Nobody wants to pay for your mistakes and this is quite obvious. Second, we were becoming more famous and more people were expressing interest to the team. “Guys, — people would ask us now and then, — what are you doing that for? What is your profit?” and so on and so forth. And we were just smiling in response, not bothering ourselves with explanations. Because it is very hard to explain something to those who see no sense in growing up, self-improvement and development of the company.
The time has passed, and years, after we presented our short movie about Dnipro Ever-moving City, a person contacts us, asking if we are the ones who created it. Having talked a little and confirmed our authorship, we were offered a deal that is hard to reject. Ukrainian company Run Ukraine wanted us to make photo and video reports about Dnipro Half Marathon — a big event for the city and the country in general.
Having heard the main goals, discussed the funds, important and small details, we dwelled to the most boring part of work for any creative person — pragmatic and non-emotional planning. The main task was to cover the whole sports day, enlighten all the emotions from the absolute happiness from the victory to the disappointment of failure, adrenaline and exhaustion. Not to miss a single participant, to show the active fans, generous sponsors, professional organizers, etc. Sharply saying, to show the whole day from the very beginning till the sunset in photos and video.
halfmarathon dnipro, Innterpipe dnipro halfmarathon, storts event, Run Ukraine, storts shooting, aerial shooting
© Sergey Fomkin / sergeyfomkin.com
For those who do not know what’s it all about, we want to explain: the Half Marathon is a 21-kilometer distance plus a few more meters. It is a very popular distance among the professional runners as well as among amateurs. Obviously, the professionals take part in such competitions to win, the amateurs simply want to improve their previous results (if there were any) and to challenge themselves and their friends. Besides the top race of 21 kilometers, usually the organizers also arrange additional shorter distances: 10, 5 and 2 kilometers as well as short races for children: 100 meters, 500 meters and 1000 meters.
Needless to say, there was an enormous number of participants. Planning the locations for photo and video in advance, the most important thing was to predict from what spots the shots will look the best, where and when the emotions, natural lights and foreshortening will cooperate with photographers and operators in the best way, making the best pictures. Having counted everything, thought over, approved and rejected lots of different variants, we have decided that we were going to need 5 super-cool photographers, 3 super-cool cameramen, 1 journalist for the interviews and 1 coordinator, who will control all the process and will be responsible for it.
halfmarathon dnipro, Innterpipe dnipro halfmarathon, storts event, Run Ukraine, storts shooting, aerial shooting
© Sergey Fomkin / sergeyfomkin.com
Making the scenario for the video report we have faced one main problem. To enlighten all the marathon for the maximum, not to miss the most important moments, to be basically everywhere, we would be needing more than 10 photographers and the same number of operators. But we did not have such a big human or appliance resource and neither the organizers were ready to pay for all of that. We can say that we have solved this issue very logically. A well-thought logistics and transportation of cameramen was the best way out. We have decided to use the additional transport. You will not argue, that an operator who is running ahead of the runners, holding a heavy camera is very unlikely to create the best shots. Oh yeah, one more little thing, the runners are really fast and it is close to impossible to chase the leaders. The cars were absolutely forbidden, but we needed to make the front shooting somehow. The bikes have become the best (even though the least convenient) way out. From the very beginning we would like to assure you that despite the slow speed of a bike or a scooter it is very difficult and scary to make a video sitting backwards to the rider. That is why if there is an option to use any bigger kind of transport — let’s say a car — never refuse it. But if there is no other option, then think twice of how you are going to fasten yourself to the seat or to the rider and how to make the camera stable, since afterwards while post-production stage you will have to stabilize the whole video.
halfmarathon dnipro, Innterpipe dnipro halfmarathon, storts event, Run Ukraine, storts shooting, aerial shooting
© Sergey Fomkin / sergeyfomkin.com
After all, the team roles were set as the following. Regarding the fact that the distance was lying between the two banks of the huge Dnipro river, we had to put two photographers on bikes, so that they were able to quickly change their locations. One photographer was working in the middle of the bridge across the river. This lucky person was able not to only make great portraits of the sportsmen, but also to catch beautiful city panoramas and the embankment. Two photographers were working at start/finish zone, in order to catch every person who finishes the race (by the way, thanks to these people we have captured 98% of the participants, which is more than 1000 people, and this number does not include the support teams and organizers). As for the operators, one of three was working ‘on a bike’, shooting the front plans and following the heat leaders. Another operator was working together with the journalist, making videos of everything that was happening in the lounge zones, fan zones and recording the interviews with the runners, fans, sponsors, organizators. And the other was working together with the photographer at the start/finish zone.
halfmarathon dnipro, Innterpipe dnipro halfmarathon, storts event, Run Ukraine, storts shooting, aerial shooting
© Sergey Fomkin / sergeyfomkin.com
Of course, SFG would not be a creative agency had we not actually created something interesting and bright to cheer up our team itself and everyone who would see us in front of their faces. So we have come to an agreement to add a face to our team, so that we were noticeable and recognizable among hundreds of people. Since none of us was taking part in the whole event as a sportsman, even though there was a couple of those, who were looking forward to it (we will remind here, that the responsibility rate and high consciousness are the top characteristics of our workers), we have designed special bright and meaningful T-shirts for every SFG person, involved into the shooting process. For the journalist, photographer and operators we have come up with special inscriptions which from a single glance let people know who we were and what we were doing there. ‘A T-shirt? What a usual thing’, — you might think. But that little detail let us stand out from the numbers of people. It united us into one perfectly-tuned mechanism, which was working as sharp as a Swiss watch.
halfmarathon dnipro, Innterpipe dnipro halfmarathon, storts event, Run Ukraine, storts shooting, aerial shooting
© Sergey Fomkin / sergeyfomkin.com
The photographers’ work was one of the most difficult and exhausting during the day. The thing is that the weather was constantly changing, as was the general dynamics of the event and these factors made it impossible to use any additional appliance or requisite. The report shooting was made right here and right now. It is obvious that we could not tell the race winner ‘Ooops, sorry, man, but you will have to cross the finish line just one more time, because the light was not perfect enough. But don’t forget to look as if you’ve just won the race!’. Or it is kind of rude to ask the Head of the city to shoot a few more takes for better foreshortening. So any possibility of making staged photos was completely excluded. The only thing we had time for while shooting was a rapid change of lenses. We were using wide-angle lenses for general plans, and long-focus, and portrait ones for individual plans. This way we could easily take out every single person from the crowds of sportsmen.
halfmarathon dnipro, Innterpipe dnipro halfmarathon, storts event, Run Ukraine, storts shooting, aerial shooting
© Sergey Fomkin / sergeyfomkin.com
As a result, we had 8,000 photos shot, 6,000 of which formed the photo report in which every single participant and every other fan can find themselves. The amount of video material, recorded during the day, was reaching the point of more than 10 hours. The brightest moments we have put together into the video report about the Half Marathon.
To sum it up, we would like to point out that while working at such big events with a lot of professional people, the most important thing is to thoroughly coordinate and passionately motivate everyone. The big challenge the team faced was that disregarding the professionalism and notability of the team, almost none of us had practiced working in such big sports events. It has become a huge step up and a completely new experience for each of us. Constantly changing weather, the number of participants, the general high level of the whole event made us work as hard as we could, not thinking about the physical tiredness or heavy moral responsibility. We were just doing our job as we had to and even better, exceeding our potential and our client’s expectations.
halfmarathon dnipro, Innterpipe dnipro halfmarathon, storts event, Run Ukraine, storts shooting, aerial shooting
© Sergey Fomkin / sergeyfomkin.com
By Zhenya Shokun
2016