The way of the foot and fist, a martial arts school documentary

A short time after moving to the U.S. I did a documentary/video presentation for a martial arts school based in Irving, Texas. During the preproduction meeting with Master John Monroe, the founder, Korean Taekwondo Institute was preparing to celebrate its 20th year of operations on Jan. 26, 2013, this event provided us with a sense of urgency to fast track production in time for the video to premiere on its anniversary celebration.

Having set up my production company, this project allowed me an opportunity to assess my equipment and current capabilities.

At the same time it presented challenges like the fact that I still have no assistants and will have to do the production solo.

The subject matter also presented challenges, to make martial arts and interview shots dynamic required at least a 2 camera shoot, adequate lighting and good sound. At that time I was using Canon DSLRs, that would also present challenges, however, due to 3rd party developments in hardware and firmware by such companies like mosaic engineering and Magic Lantern, using DSLRs became a viable option.

Mosaic engineering made the OLPF (Optical Low Pass Filter) placed infront of the 5D Sensor that eliminates moiré and aliasing found in most DSLR footage due to line skipping.

Here is a link to my tests with the Mosaic filter:

Resolution Chart Test

Outdoors and Fabrics Tests

Link to Mosaic Engineering

With Magic Lantern software, the 5D mkII now had capabilities far beyond what it was originally made to do, among those are the ability to use headphone monitoring, multi track audio, variable frame rates and HDR video.

I wouldn't be using most of those features for this project but a few are important, the ability to monitor sound, control audio gain for 2 separate audio channels and, very important in doing interviews, the ability to automatically continue recording after the 4 gig limit has been reached. Working alone, the auto restart recording feature allowed me to do long sit down interviews and with multi cameras without the need for another operator.


With a very tight deadline and a post production time of only 4 days I needed to find a workflow that is faster. One way to achieve this is to ditch dual system sound and record audio straight to camera. Those working with Canon DSLRs and a separate sound recorder know how challenging this is. I had a ZOOM H4n sound recorder and with certain shotguns, the built in pre amps is just not good enough, giving me a wave form of around -24db only. This is not good enough since this takes a lot of fixing post.


I found a cheap portable pre-amp made by Applied Research and Technology (ART) called the USB Dual Pre which is just a little more than $30 and provides 48v Phantom and up to +48db of gain. It's light enough to be modified for rail mounting thus making it part of a portable filming rig.


Lighting is a combination of tungsten redheads and fluorescent soft boxes. This filming system together with several DIY rigs I made, like the Plywood Skater and mini track allowed me to produce the documentary by myself and on schedule.

To watch the finished Video, please click on the links below.



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