Category Archives: Solar Odyssey

Why my posts have slowed

I recognize that the frequency of posting has slowed, but when you’re in production with a constantly floating starting point it takes time. Given the delays for Solar Odyssey we’ve been shooting as if we had already started. It may become part of the show, it might be a special, or it might end up on the metaphoric cutting room floor.

Today’s video blog was shot with an NEX 7 from the passenger seat.

While this one and those previous were shot with a GoPro Hero.

We can go back to the GoPro or stick with the NEX 7 approach. Which do you think works better?

Solar Odyssey Production Assistant Postion

By now you’ve probably heard of journey – in fact I’m already in Orlando doing Hoverfly training. If I get good enough they’re going to sponsor a Hoverfly Venu. These are awesome machines and I’ve made good progress in two days, but still have a way to go that will come with practice.

We were initially planning on taking on interns for two week cycles, but realized that would add a large burden of retraining with our new systems every two weeks!  Instead we opted to make three positions available: From Clearwater to New York City, from New York City to Chicago, and from Chicago back to Clearwater. Continue reading Solar Odyssey Production Assistant Postion

Solar Odyssey – I’m on my way!

For me it’s day -6 as I head off to Orlando to do two days of Hoverfly remote control helicopter training – and in turn train others to fly it on the boat. (As much as I think I’ll love it, I’ll have a few other duties to do).

So, for me it’s got very real, very quickly. The last two weeks have been packed with gear. Boxes arriving from everywhere as I build out the kit. Then more boxes arrived. And more. And more. We have an over packaging problem! Everything from cameras, to audio gear, to power – all the things I talked about in the previous series of “Haiku” posts.

This was just part of what arrived, was unpacked, checked and repacked. Click for a bigger view.
That's pretty much all that's necessary in there. Laptops, iPads and NEX7's excluded.

All this condensed down to 10 boxes ready to ship to Florida.

All packed ready to drop at FedEx.

So far, I’m impressed with the NEX7 as both a video and still camera. The light sensitivity of the FS100 is absolutely amazing, and the audio synching works well in FCP X , but we may be looking at Pluraleyes for batch processing.

Net result is that everything I need to do a multi camera reality TV show doesn’t take up multiple grip trucks – it fits in the back of a Kia Spectra 5! And on a 47.5′ by 6′ boat.


Solar Odyssey: Lighting and Mounts

At one level, we could almost do without traditional lighting, particularly if I outfit the cabin with sufficiently soft light sources (like these LED strips that could line the ceiling and high walls), but I’m not sure I’d be satisfied. My first job was as Head Technician and lighting designer at the Newcastle Civic Theater, but for the five years before that I’d already (from age 16) run my own theater lighting business. (A small business, I should point out.)

So, I’m a little fussy about the way things look. Hence, lighting. And logically LED, and therefore LitePanels. A mixture of Micro Pros, Mini Pros and a 1×1 for when I need a heavy fill or to light up a bigger area. Continue reading Solar Odyssey: Lighting and Mounts

Solar Odyssey: Connectivity

There are a number of reasons why we need continuous (or as continuous as possible) Internet during the Solar Odyssey:

  • Research on surrounding attractions and contact details
  • Our multi-user logging app will be on a remote server (most likely) or connected via the public internet to the server on Ra (unlikely). It needs this topography to make the multi-user aspect work.
  • Upload daily video blogs, pictures, and blog posts for and

We have need for connectivity on Ra for research and posting purposes, but also while off the boat for the logging app. Continue reading Solar Odyssey: Connectivity

Solar Odyssey – Power

One of the challenges for the Solar Odyssey is that Ra is a solar powered boat. No sail, no diesel, just solar. This raises two primary issues: how do we power equipment without native 110v; and how much extra power do we need to generate to run production, above and beyond what’s needed by life on the boat and – most significantly – the motors? Neither have simple answers.

Continue reading Solar Odyssey – Power

Solar Odyssey – Computers and SAN

Having acquired some pictures and sound, hopefully of high quality, how are we going to edit given no Mac Pro on board (too big and too much power required) and definitely no Fiber Channel drives (again too big and too much power required).

Since Final Cut Pro X runs so very well on MacBook Pros, primary editing will be done on two mid 2011 Quad Core i7 MacBook Pros with 8 GB RAM each. Even better there are readily available 12v native power supplies for these computers and an older Core2Duo (December 2009 vintage). While this isn’t an ideal machine for Final Cut Pro X, it has other advantages and uses, as we’ll see.

Continue reading Solar Odyssey – Computers and SAN