Australian University Games

About UniGames

Since its inception in 1993, the Australian University Games (AUG) has grown to be Australia’s largest annual multisport event. Held each September/October, the Games is renowned for providing a friendly but competitive environment for Australian university athletes and is the flagship event on the national university sporting calendar.

The Games are recognised as a perfect opportunity to provide university athletes, many of whom are of Olympic standard, to compete against each other in a national multi sport event. As such, the Games has built up a reputation as a not to be missed, event attracting over 9,000 participants each year.

 

The short & sweet

Worked with some amazing student journalists from QUT News, filmed a PTC in a car park, and now understand how tennis is scored.

 

Gear List

  • Sony A6300 APS-C Mirrorless 4K Body
  • Sony A7ii Super 35 Mirrorless 4K Body
  • Helios 44M-4 58mm f/2
  • Jupiter-11 135mm f/4
  • ZOOM H5 Audio Recorder
  • Shure SM58 Handheld Cardioid Microphone
  • RØDE VideoMicro On-Camera Cardioid Microphone
  • RØDE SmartLav+
  • Yongnuo YN600L LED Panel

 

Working with journalists

I make reference to Leigh Sales’ fantastic essay ‘On Doubt’ published by the Melbourne University Press. In this wonderful, albeit short essay Sales makes mention of how she maintains a positive view on the ways journalists can affect the general conversation; and it’s a view that I hold myself. Having never shot, or edited news packages myself, I was looking forward to working with these journalists to find out just how the production process differs to the more corporate work that I’m used to. As it turns out, one simple phrase can pretty much sum it up – ‘Write to Pictures.’ Obsessed about workflow, I like to start with an intensive pre-production stage, compiling shot lists, shooting schedules, a script… you name it, but as you can imagine no such thing exists in the media industry. It was chaotic, but our makeshift newsroom in a crummy 3 star Surfer’s Paradise hotel was something of a inspiring place to work.

Appreciating I was the only paid person on the team, I felt obligated to get one thing right for them, their pieces to camera. You see, just like actors screen journalists rely heavily on their showreel when applying for work, and before I arrived at UniGames they were shooting many of these on mobile phones. I’d set up my Sony A6300 with the Helios 44M-4 knowing that the swirly depth of field would come through with the 1.5x crop factor giving the lens an ideal focal length of 87mm. Manual focus aside, having this depth of field came in handy for a notoriously misbehaved UniGames audience, avoiding many awkward moonings and general finger guns. To help seperate the image, I carried around a Yongnuo YN600L LED panel which helped us in some difficult indoor sites.

Audio was surprisingly difficult for me to get the hang of. In the fast-paced environment of a newsroom there’s very little time for post-sync audio workflow, and studio audio editing. To put this into context, I usually mix my comprehensive in Cubase, and have my VST plugins and EQ all setup for a nice warm, and punchy sound. With the edits being often so fast to turn around, I’d do my audio edit in Premier; just adding a touch of EQ to kick out wind noise and a lowpass filter to take out rumble.

Colour grading, oh dear. My usual workflow is to take the XML from either Avid (my preferred editing package), or Premier and then grade in Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve and do the final export there. Unfortunately while I was away, my laptop would crash on immediate attempt to load the XML in DaVinci. PTCs were recorded in Sony’s SLOG-2, and then reteased in DaVinci to bring it to a Rec.709 colour profile, exported as their own ‘mezzanine’, and loaded back into Premier.

Living out of my backpack

Last time I travelled with so much camera equipment was back in 2015, when I was shooting a comprehensive interview in Maroochydore. I totally forgot how frustrating it was to cart around everything in my K&F Concept camera backpack – I had some 20kgs on my back for the most part. Camera equipment was one thing (fluid head tripods are heavy!), but the makeup kits, grey cards, and other paraphernalia that comes handy on set just weighed me down.

QUT did not provide us a vehicle to get around these events which meant that I was relying on the G:link tram to get around. Not a massive drama, but I sure as heck was glad I was wearing active wear. On the final day, we had a fairly tight shooting schedule; required to shoot Rugby 7s, Tennis, European Handball, Cheer, and two water events. This followed by an intense edit with the final day wrap up scheduled to fill 8 minutes in the rundown. Charming.

Due to the unreliability of public transport connections between Karrara, and Bond University we spent $70 in Uber charges across the day to get around. The Uber drivers were awfully sympathetic, I suspect because I smelt like a Merchant of Yonkers. We were running surprisingly ahead of schedule for most of the day and had a moment spare to grab lunch – a surprisingly rare occurrence on set. On arrival back at our hotels we were thrown a curve ball, miscalculating our accomodation checkout times and had to find an alternative location to edit. Nothing we can’t handle though, we’re journalists!

By chance, one of the journalists had family staying on the Gold Coast, and so we stayed in their kitchen (featured image) to finish the edit for the night. Our original plan for the opening PTC was to film it in the Circle below my hotel room at the Mantra as the first PTC for the week was filmed on the beach, showcasing both appeals of staying on the Gold Coast. The goal then was to have a short clip of the media team signing off from our ‘newsroom.’ As you can imagine, bigger fish needed to be fried. We headed down to the only place in the hotel that was quiet, and clearly lit. The car park. Set up my LED panel, set the camera rolling, laid down in a puddle, and we got the PTC done. I’m pretty sure you can see a car reversing into the rear of the shot… bummer. This is journalism my friends.