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One Tribe TV Takes to the Big Screen

Next month sees One Tribe TV’s first cinematic release with a premiere at The Curzon Cinema in Mayfair,  London.  Our new history travel feature documentary, In the Footsteps of Marco Polo - presented by Stanley and Max Johnson - has been in production for nearly 2 years. Filming was no mean feat. The British and Chinese teams, made up of more than 30 people, worked for more than seven weeks on location, travelling from the far Western border of China to Beijing along the ancient Silk Route travelled by Marco Polo and his caravan. Father and son presenting duo Stanley and Max emulate the famous journey, bringing to it both their own particular sense of humour and glimpses of family competitiveness. The vastly differing landscapes paired with engaging interviews from a range of people provides both an epic and intimate portrait of a China rarely seen in the West.

The One Tribe TV crew was headed up by DOP Pete Haines and directors Tom Taylor and Mimi Templar-Gay. Cinematic aerials were captured by the DJI Mavic Pro - making capturing the vast landscapes of the Karakoram mountains and the precise symmetry of the solar farms in Shouhang look like light work. Utilising the top of the range features like active track, point of interest and obstacle avoidance, our landscape aerials feel larger than life. The drone was critical in shooting the only train passing through the Taklamakan desert on a blistering hot day in May. With only one attempt at getting the shot, timing was crucial. Getting the drone in the air allowed us to see the train coming from miles away, meaning our cameras on the ground were ready for it to pass. The result: a sleek tracking shot from the air, and multiple mids and close ups from the ground.

For ultimate ease through production to in-house post and delivery, the decision was made to shoot in high quality 4k, and to mainly stick to one brand of camera so that shots would cut together smoothly. We opted for 2 Sony FX9s and a Sony FX3. This combination allowed for some longer, telephoto lens shooting, giving us some lovely compressed backgrounds on our wide shots, as well as some more up-close, intimate roaming FX3 shots, stabilised using a gimbal. In fact, everything was shot using either tripods or a gimbal, which meant everything was steady - well - as steady as it can be when filming from the back of a camel...

Covering more than 4000km with a lot of camera equipment is no easy matter. The kit packed down into around 25 big Peli cases, and then there was everyone's personal baggage, which meant that we had to have a minibus just to take all the luggage on the journey. This doubled up as the tracking vehicle that we attached our cameras on to film the presenters' cars.

The show really came into its own in the post room, with the beautiful grade at the hands of our in-house colourist, Will Watson. The shots that were once grey and flat, having been shot and offline edited in S-Log, were suddenly full of depth, texture and interest. Grading for cinema has a different technical output to standard TV which requires Rec 709 colour space. Cinema requires P3 colour space, which is actually larger, allowing colours to be pushed further. The chance to emulate 35mm grain provided an opportunity for Will's creativity to run wild. Black bars were added as well as glows to introduce a feeling of bloom. The natural beauty of the landscapes was enhanced, dark scenes took on moody personas, and skies were tweaked to perfection.

One Tribe are delighted to be working alongside independent cinemas in Bath and London to share the travel documentary with a wide audience. The film will first premiere at the Curzon Mayfair on 3rd July 2024, and then at Little Theatre Cinema in Bath on 26th July 2024, where a Q&A with one half of the presenting duo, Stanley Johnson, will follow. Tickets can be purchased through this link.

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