[Video] Shooting The Ad Campaign For Discovery's River Monsters

[Video] Shooting The Ad Campaign For Discovery's River Monsters

Our good friend Blair Bunting is at it again. This time Blair was hired to shoot the ad campaign for The Discovery Channels hit show River Monsters. The concept was relatively simple; to have the show’s host Jeremy Wade wrestling a giant fish in the shallow waters near South Beach, Florida. To do this Blair's team used a fake fish that was then replaced in post. To freeze the water with a quick flash duration  and stay portable Blair used the new Photoflex Tritons.

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I hate to be negative, but this was not in any way, informative, entertaining, or useful.. It's a vid of a plastic fish in shallow water..

haha were you expecting a fishing expedition with photographer in tow!? ;) The plastic fish was there as a model so that post work could be done using PS, et al. Yeah it was just a simple video showing you the step taken to get the final shot. Not very informative . . just bland info, that shows you the power of the digital age and what PS master, like myself, can do. It's fun and exciting, but unless you are there, and only get to see this vid, it is not very telling of the things involved. I agree though . . . . post a good vid or don't post one at all. . . . kinda.

I've got to respectfully disagree with you. Although this video is not wildly informative or entertaining, I did learn a lot from it. First of all, never in a million years would I have thought that they would have had a fake fish on a shoot like this. I would have never know where a shoot like this was shot. I would have never known how a shoot like this was lit. It's by no means a step by step video but for me it is really interesting to know how high end and large budget shoots like this are pulled off. But just like you, I always wish there was more info :)

agreed, one thing i really hope we can all agree on: that music needs replacement - SO ANNOYING!

THE GREAT ZEEE's picture

a video like this is not for the folks who cant read between the lines. spot on on everything Lee

Yes, I agree. That goes without saying, but my last premise ^ was about the intricate steps in such a shoot, not presented in the video. . . . and there are MANY ways of lighting the scene too. Lastly, I knew it was not a real fish because he would NEVER put his hands in that species of fish with razor sharp teeth when it is swirving and fighting . . . I guess they forgot one bit of detail ;) The power of that fish would've torn his hand off. If you use a fake fish, at least put some reality in the scene ;)

Ryan Daley's picture

I agree with Lee. I usually see high budget shoots filled with gear I can't afford and in locations that I cant access...or afford. It is informative knowing that what gets the job done...gets the job done. 

Joop van Roy's picture

It seems like this shoot could have been executed with simple speedlights. No need for lots of power when it's dark outside. Might have been safer as well to have AA batteries over the water instead of power packs...

Matthew Coughlin's picture

 I assisted on the shoot along with shooting the actual video. Speedlites were considered but flash duration was the most important factor in stopping the action for the water splashes.

Patrick Hall's picture

Hey Matt, great video!  Just curious, do the speedlights not have the fastest duration of anything at really low power settings? 

Matthew Coughlin's picture

Patrick, If Blair chimed in I'm sure he would clear this up. He explained to me in his testing before the shoot, he got the shortest duration from the Tritons as compared to SB-900's which he was considering. That is what jogs my memory best from the conversation. I'll try and touch base with him to get a clear answer. Thanks for the props on the vid. It was just a little footage I shot whipped together quickly just to give some insight into the set and equipment. Music choice was more a comical selection :)

Matthew Coughlin's picture

Forgot to mention in comment below that I think the trade off was power. Yes, speedlites will have a shorter duration but the power is lacking if you really want to close down your aperture. Hopefully Blair will chime in with his explanation of light choice.

Blair Bunting's picture

Overall SB900 thrown into high speed sync mode would have been fastest, but not near enough power. We had 9 SB900's on set, but only as backups in case the lighting with the Tritons went to hell. With distance to subject and modifiers in the equation the Tritons had enough power at a short enough duration to use the octas and still freeze the water. With the SB900's we would have had too small a light source and the angle of attack would have dropped the shadows out of the D3x's sensor/noise ratio key spot (around 3.5 stops) which is another reason I brought the D3s. To have the speed from the SB900's is nice, but at the end of the day with B=L/4πD² and when B is so damn small with the camera's shutter speed faux amping it, more power is needed. Some might argue that the color temp shift from the small heads would offer it hand to shooting Profotos to a screen, but the color throw with have taken the fish out with the lack of speculars and rendered the speed moot to the texture killed.  But something tells me yet another person will try to teach me that I did it all in Photoshop ;-)

Jens Marklund's picture

Good on them to actually do a shoot. Seems like most of these kinds of images are usually just a composite of 5 different images.

Ken Yee's picture

lol...where in the world did you get that giant plastic fish?

Great post work...

Definitely agree with you Lee.  When I first saw the still image (final shot) before clicking to watch the video...I was like "whoa!"  Interesting to see the fake fish and how lame it looked before the actual lighting and post work.  Cool stuff. 

Tracy Nanthavongsa's picture

Hella amazing. Who would have thought a shot like this was done on a lake in someone's backyard?! 

Robert's picture

Simple idea with good results but the softbox reflection below the fish's eye is very distracting they should have PS'd that one out. 

Boudewijn Berends's picture

Don't forget the man who filmed this. http://www.matthewcoughlin.com/ A great photographer and has some amazing setups for his speed lights on his flickr! account. Go check it out!

 yeah agree, Matt's got some great set-up shots on his Flickr page, check them out here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/matthewcoughlin/sets/72157625726581113/with...