Why Teradek RT is Perfect for Small Crews w/ Compassion International


Founded in 1952, Compassion International is a Christian child development organization that works to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. Compassion revolutionized the fight against global poverty by working exclusively with the Church to lift children out of spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty. Compassion partners with more than 6,700 churches in 25 countries to deliver its holistic child development program to over 1.8 million babies, children and young adults. Compassion’s child sponsorship program has been validated through independent, empirical research. For more about the ministry, visit compassion.com or follow them on Twitter @compassion.

What makes Compassion so successful at bringing aid into these underdeveloped parts of the world? When it comes to video, it’s all about telling a compelling, real-life story.

“Our mission was to film the journey of a family in the UK who’ve been sponsoring a child in Uganda for the last 10 years. They’ve been really invested in her growth but never had the chance to meet before. So we wanted to create a video that captured the emotions of the family traveling to Uganda to meet this young girl for the first time.” - Kevin Kelleher, MoVI Op at Ironclad.

Working with a Small Crew

Handheld rig with Teradek Bolt 1000.

Ironclad was tasked with creating a visually compelling storytelling video that Compassion could share with its current and future contributors, and rather than producing a somber donation video like the ones you see on TV, Ironclad and Compassion wanted to do something more uplifting. The strategy was to shoot cinematically.

"As Compassion and all of their partners strive to operate at the highest level, being able to convey a story with authenticity and make it visually captivating was a top priority for us,” said Kevin Kelleher, MoVI Op at Ironclad.

RED Epic Dragon on MoVI Pro. Pulling focus with Teradek RT Thumbwheels on both handlebars.

But because this is a humanitarian project, keeping the budget low was important. The production ran a 3-man crew: 2 camera ops and Director Ryan Johnson. This made for a very limiting cinematic production. Here’s how they made it work:

The 703 Bolt is an all-in-one handheld 7" monitor with a built-in Bolt Sidekick receiver. It supports receiving 1 video from the Bolt wirelessly, and another via SDI. Since they had 2x Bolt 1000s, one fed directly to the monitor wirelessly, while the other sent video to the additional Bolt receiver mounted to the back. This created a split screen on the monitor where Johnson and the crew could monitor both camera feeds simultaneously.

Because there were no ACs for this production, Kelleher needed to pull focus on his own while operating the MoVI Pro. He used the Teradek RT Thumbwheel-S, a wired controller with grips that allow for operators to easily adjust their own focus.

Camera Ops AND Focus Puller in One

Teradek RT Thumbwheels are wired to the Latitude M receiver and allow for easy control of the lens.

“We wanted the video to be both visually stunning and authentic at the same time, and we had to make it work with the limited resources/personnel in our hands. Lucky for us, we had top-notch gear that made it possible to achieve everything we wanted without needing as much resources as normal shoots. Thanks to the REDs and Teradeks which worked seamlessly together, and AbelCine for creating a custom package that specifically met our needs.”

External FIZ controls are essential to pulling focus on cameras rigged to gimbals. Since Teradek RT sets have optional, adjustable Thumbwheels for self focus pulling, Kelleher simply strapped them to the MoVI and controlled both gimbal & lens at the same time.

Sponsor and child meet in Uganda. Credit: Ironclad

Additionally, Bolts allowed both rigs to be 100% wireless and send pristine, zero-delay video to the Director, who monitored everything on his handheld 703 Bolt. For this run-and-gun shoot where there was no video village, tiny crew and constant moving, wireless monitoring was nothing short of critical.

“We want the video to represent how much it means when people come together to contribute to a cause. Normally this would require a much larger crew, but even with just 3 people we were able to capture every part of this momentous occasion. It really shows how versatile the Teradek RT and Bolt systems can be, whether you have a large crew or a small one.”

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