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A Postcard from Andy Taylor ACS

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G'day Ron,

It's been a busy start to the year at 60 Minutes, all four crews have been flat chat!

My soundo, Charles "Chick" Davey and I have just returned from Tobruk in Libya where we were shooting a profile on the legendary AFL player & coach Ron Barassi. We felt reasonably safe during the week long shoot, although we did have a few minor run ins with the locals, including a small riot we somehow started at a mosque, and a 'grenade attack' - well, that's what the Herald Sun called it, more like a few angry local demonstrators setting off a grenade near our bus in Benghazi -- wearing balaclavas, wielding a machete and AK47's.

I've also just completed a yarn on Gordon Wood (who was accused of throwing his girlfriend off The Gap back in the mid 90's). This shoot gave me the chance to work with my brother Jo Juhanson who worked as our grip.

60 Minutes gives us something different every day - and each one brings a different challenge for shooting and sound. The last year has seen us abseil into an active volcano in Vanuatu, trek into the Amazon jungle to film the Kayapo Indians, and travel to Borneo to live with the Sea Gypsies. In Yellowstone National Park we filmed wolves in the snow, working in temperatures as low as minus 25℃. Along the way we've met some incredible and sometimes bizarre people, including a real life superhero and teenage exorcists, plus a hilarious day with comedian Will Ferrell.

We recently shot a great picture story with Michael Usher on the Mexican crystal caves - probably the most amazing place I have ever been, but also the most physically demanding shoot I have ever worked on. The cave is a couple of kilometres directly under a remote central Mexican town, and it took producer Danny Keens two years to get permission to film there. The temperature inside the cave is 50 C, and the humidity is almost 100%. Because of these conditions it is a very dangerous place to go. Our core body temperature would skyrocket, hitting 40 degrees within minutes of entering the cave, so we had very limited time to get into position, shoot and get out. It was incredibly difficult to breathe. I can only compare it to drowning or suffocating.

We filmed inside the cave three times per day for two days, wearing special cooling suits that pumped freezing water around our bodies through medical grade tubing which was stitched into the lycra fabric. This gave us a couple of extra minutes to get the gear deep inside the cave. At the beginning of each day I put the camera inside the cave so it could acclimatise. Amazingly, the camera kept working - even though the heat and humidity were well outside the specs - and the camera body and tripod became almost too hot to touch. I'm told National Geographic wrote off a few cameras shooting their doco in the same cave.

The lighting was all LEDs; a couple of 1x1 Flolights that I picked up in LA, a small Litepanel on the camera and my Arri Locaster LED, plus three 'LED LENSER' torches that pumped out a bucket of light. I had my 5D MkII in an underwater housing as back-up camera and a GoPro mounted to the handle of one of the torches. I also carried an infrared camera to demonstrate body heat compared to the ambient temperature.

I'm never too sure what's coming up next. It's a bit of a magical mystery tour on this show.

Our Crystal Cave story, photo's and blog can be viewed online here: http://sixtyminutes.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=8436383

Cheers,

Andy Taylor ACS

 

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