Cinematographer Marco Hoffman chose Sachtler Video 20 heads and Speed Lock® tripods for shooting the new season of MTV’s hit reality series Taking the Stage. Hoffman is known for his work on popular reality programs like Laguna Beach, The Hills, The Rachel Zoe Project, and House Hunters.
Taking the Stage is a four-camera one-hour show and Hoffman shoots between 20 to 30 hours a week of dance. “We use the Sachtler Video 20 during the ballet and hip-hop dance sequences,” he explains. “And we use it for our scene work. We set the heads to zero resistance and give it a handheld look, all the while filming with the HDX900 and VariCams. Sachtler gives me everything from graceful gliding moves on a ballerina to fast, popping, recompositions of different shots of a hip-hop artist.”
According to Hoffman, Sachtler’s superiority is evident from the bottom up. The high-quality rubber feet form a solid base, and what’s more, they’re easily removable–so an operator filming on a hillside can get a good firm grip in the dirt or sand. “For me, there’s nothing more annoying than a high-maintenance tripod where the spreaders are constantly falling off the legs. The spreaders never fall off the Sachtler tripods, and they’re easy to adjust. Even the tie downs are reliable.”
Another feature Hoffman likes is how the Sachtler legs come out and lock. This makes it extremely easy to adjust heights and, once the leg is locked, the operator can be confident it will remain secure. Tripods with twist locks, he explains, take too much time to set and can’t be trusted to stay locked.
“The action of the Sachtler head is smooth and steady every time,” Hoffman says. He has used Video 20s in all kinds of different conditions, from freezing cold snow tops to the hot humid jungles of Africa, “and they’ve never failed me. Other heads work great in a studio, but as soon as you take them out into the field, you find yourself working or pumping the fluid back up in the head.”
In the end, Hoffman insists on having the Sachtler Video 20 heads and Speed Lock® tripods on all his jobs. “Whether I’m shooting documentaries or reality programming, I always have my Sachtlers with me. They’re lightweight, durable, and easy to set up and have great action. Cameras change and formats change,” he concludes. “But I only trust my camera to one brand of tripod.”