For over two weeks in late March and early April, digital director and photographer Oliver Astrologo traveled through Vietnam exploring its best treasures. His 1,650 kilometer north-to-south journey takes the form of “Reverie of Vietnam,” a beautiful short video that places you inside the country face-to-face with the residents and the historic and natural wonders that surround you. Read on to learn more about the production as well as see many great images captured during the expedition.
Without the time to prepare a storyboard, as Astrologo usually does before shooting a new project, he instead focused his preproduction work on viewing what has already been produced in Vietnam and then set out to create something fresh for his own video. “Reverie of Vietnam” takes an intimate approach to the country, usually showing no more than one person in the frame per shot. In doing this, Astrologo has created something really interesting. The Indochina region is known for its massive population of people, so it's easy to overlook the fact these densely populated countries are made up of individuals, and each and every one of these individuals has their own unique life and story. With “Reverie of Vietnam,” the many quick portrait shots makes quite an impact on the viewer. It feels much more personal, like you are briefly stepping into that person’s life, rather than only getting a vague and general sense of the population as a whole which many other travel videos tend to do.
One of these Vietnamese individuals stands out as being his favorite person to capture during his stay. At around the 1:15 mark in the video there is a brief clip of a woman smoking a cigar. Astrologo found her with a group of people resting after praying at the Marble Mountain near Hoi An. “She was apparently the leader of the group, parting wise facts and giving away lucky charms,” said Astrologo. The praying group then invited Astrologo to join them. He continued, “They were amazed we were filming what they were doing, and eventually loosened up as they [struck a] few poses. Before leaving, she pulls out from her pocket a Vietnamese banknote, signs it, and gives it to me. She said that will be my lucky charm.”
Filming in a foreign country has its obvious challenges, such as where you are going to recharge yourself and your batteries, how to get around the area, and what equipment you even bring with you in the first place.
According to Astrologo, anything was fair game as a sleeping spot. “[The] important thing [was] to find a place where I could charge [the] batteries of my camera. Wood-made shelters and night trains were [the] main choice, but we also opted for [a] few hotels in [the] main cities,” he said. He also utilized every form of transportation available to him, but favored riding a motorbike as nothing else allowed for greater flexibility.
As for which gear to bring, it came down to finding a solution to the problems of weight, volume, and also not having a setup that would intimidate the people he would film. Astrologo opted to bring along a bare essentials kit consisting of the relatively-compact Sony a7II, the Sony Zeiss 35mm f/2.8, the Sony Zeiss 55mm f/1.8, and the Nebula 4000 video stabilizer. While a majority of Vietnamese people love being filmed, he said, the gear he brought allowed him to move around discreetly and not be spotted.
Filming with the Sony a7II at 1080 50p and exposed in S-Log2, Astrologo accumulated over 200GB of footage in Vietnam. In the video below, he put together a selection of raw clips showing the gimbal stabilizer and the a7II’s in-body stabilization working together. There’s also some before-and-after LUT application comparison shots.
Astrologo expressed that after the success of this trip and the praise his video has been receiving, he looks forward to the possibility of creating more videos in a similar fashion that showcase the less touristic displays.
All images used with permission.