Video Game High School (VGHS), a popular action-comedy web series from Rocket Jump Studios, is described as a show about "best friends, first loves, and landing that perfect head shot." Set in the near future where video gaming elevates its best players to stardom, the show follows BrianD and the friends and enemies he makes at the elite Video Game High School. VGHS is known for using live-action scenes with the series' characters to show action within the games.
Freddie Wong, a filmmaker and VFX artist, is credited as director, executive producer, and co-creator, along with Matt Arnold. They recently completed shooting season three of the hit web series, which is scheduled to premiere later this year. For VGHS's upcoming six-episode season, shot over 40 days in the greater Los Angeles area, Wong and his team relied on Sachtler camera support to keep up with their breakneck shooting schedule and deliver the efficiency and flexibility their workflow demanded.
"The Sachtler SPEED LOCK CF HD legs are my favorite tripod legs ever manufactured. I don't understand why everyone doesn't just use these legs. If you've ever used a huge hand-crank to readjust the heavy metal leg stagings of another brand – why would you ever do that? The SPEED LOCK is just faster, and you don't get a workout every time you move the camera. If you're not looking at the bleeding edge of material science and what new products are becoming available, how can you improve your workflow? Shooters get the new iPhone every time it comes out, so why wouldn't they do the same for their career tools?
Our DP on VGHS used to use a heavier set of legs, so we had those on set this season as a back-up. I can count on one hand the number of times we pulled them out. It takes three people to move the camera once it's set up that way, but with the Sachtler tripod, one person can do it. You're not tying up your crew just to move a camera. When you talk about speed and efficiency on set, it's not just a matter of being able to set things up faster. The time the SPEED LOCK saves us adds up over the course of a day – 15 or 20 minutes saved in set-up time means another two or three takes of something, another set-up, or finishing on time, which means everyone's still got their A-game going the next day. It keeps us efficient and keeps the crew and the whole production moving forward. It's more than just how much time it saves you right now. What's really important is how much time the Sachtler tripod saves you in the long run.
We also use the VIDEO 20 S1 fluid head on VGHS, and it's all we need. It lets us balance fast, it's incredibly versatile, and it can take anything we throw at it. We use a variety of cameras on VGHS and all of our behind-the-scenes stuff, so having the versatility of a good, solid fluid head is super helpful. It functions for everything from ratcheting down in the back of a car to hold a Canon EOS-1D C, to using it as another tripod support for a stunt sequence holding our RED Epic, to shooting a podcast.
On VGHS, if we're going to flip a car for instance, we're only going to be able to do it once, so we have multiple cameras going. We don't have a huge crew, so that spreads our team pretty thin. But in those situations, the Sachtler SPEED LOCK and VIDEO 20 gives us the ability to do just that. The less weight you have, the less manpower you use. The less manpower you use, the more efficient your production is. And that is always our goal.
Efficiency, flexibility, and reliability. These are the three things we're always looking for in a tool. Reliability is always the key component to any efficient workflow. There are so many situations where we can't afford to take the time to throw money at a problem. For VGHS, we operate on a budget that is a fraction of what you'd find on a traditional television show, and a fraction of what is spent on other web series. We need every piece of the machine to be well oiled and working at its best.
We've never had an issue with any Sachtler product that we use, and that reliability is something you really can't put a price on. You might think you're saving money by going with some other manufacturer, but you'll pay for it later in your production.
I think content is going to need to be made even cheaper and faster, based on where we see the industry, and the world, heading. That doesn't mean giving in on quality and production values, but you have to leave the excess behind. The tools you use to create content need to allow you to work quicker and better. You're going to find that on the cutting edge of technology; you're not going to find that by using the same things they used on Citizen Cane. Camera technology is evolving, lighting technology is evolving, and support technology is evolving too. The Vitec Group covers everything in that range, and whenever I see their products, I think 'Wow - that's cool' or 'That's something that's really new and exciting.' We count on Vitec to provide us with tools that allow us to work faster and smarter. That's how we get VGHS done.