Capturing footage of contestants for C4’s Hunted required some special kit, says Shaun Wilton
It isn’t every day that we’re asked to recommend cameras that could be used by fugitives on the run.
But that’s what happened when Shine TV asked us to help with the production of the latest series of Hunted, a show in which ordinary people try to evade capture by a team of experts.
The production and acquisition setup of the Channel 4 show is pretty unique.
We worked with Shine last year to implement both video and audio set ups that would allow easy filming of individuals who were on the run.
The cameras needed to be light, covert and easy to manoeuvre and use while looking as cinematic as possible.
Shine’s initial point of reference was the Bourne Identity. Just because it’s a fast-paced documentary programme shouldn’t mean it can’t look good.
We continued that theme this year as the second series of the show came around.
The fugitives went on the run with their own pocket sized Canon Legria Mini X and an embedded director (see pic above) using Canon XC10s.
When deciding what to use, Shine TV wanted something smaller and less noticeable than the Canon EOS C300s that were used in the first series, but they also wanted to maintain a high level of quality.
The support we provide all the projects we hire kit to is something we pride ourselves on and this project was no different.
Before the fugitives went on the run, we gave them training on how to shoot when they’re in the field. This training was split into two areas: technical and cinematic.
We picked the little Legria Mini X after I remembered a demo the guys at Canon gave us a while back.
The menu is really easy to navigate so the camera was straight forward when teaching the fugitives. It didn’t take long for them to be able to identify and adjust any of the camera’s settings. Obviously it’s not a camera with tons of adjustable settings but for what we needed to achieve, it was perfect.
The other aspect to consider when handing cameras to inexperienced operators is the cinematography. We had to give them a crash course in becoming a self-shooting DoP.
We covered areas like how to position yourself with the sun to get the best natural light, how to frame yourself so the programme isn’t made up of extreme close-ups.
Again we were lucky that the fugitives picked this up really well and the end results look great.
As for the embedded directors, they were equipped with an XC10 and a specially-designed audio rig.
The size, weight and overall high picture quality of the cameras is really what was important to Shine.
In certain applications, the ability to switch lenses is important but when shooting Hunted the fixed lens of the XC10 was ideal.
The very idea of carrying multiple lenses – let alone stopping to change them – while someone’s coming after you isn’t what our fugitives and their directors needed.
Plus the camera has a good balance between the cinematic look of Canon’s EOS Cine cameras used to shoot other elements of the show and the portability and usability of its XF camcorder range.
The other key consideration for all of the equipment used was its durability.
We needed to give the fugitives cameras that were robust enough to withstand cold nights in tents or being thrown into a bag or pocket while someone vaults a fence or clambers through a tunnel.
At the end of the production the only thing that came back broken was one Legria Mini X that had a rock accidently dropped on it.
Hunted is a ground-breaking series to be involved with and we’ve loved the challenge of tailoring the camera kit and developing shooting solutions for one of the most complex and demanding productions on television today.
As strange as it sounds, we’re already looking forward to the next bunch of fugitives getting their hands on our kit.
- Shaun Wilton is a director of hire firm Shooting Partners
The final episode of Hunted airs this evening (Thursday 27) at 9pm on Channel 4