Case Study: Freelance Sports Cinematographer Aaron Mendez


♪♪♪ My name is Aaron Mendez and I’m a
freelance cinematographer. It is my job to show up and take
all the chaos and capture that in a way that makes sense to the viewer. [Crowd cheers] There’s not a lot of preplanning
in the sports world. ‘Oh sorry!’ ‘I’m going to come straight up into here and then we’re going to meet eyes.’ ‘Exactly right.’ ‘Well that looked pretty good actually.’ [Crew laughs] Things happen. It’s flowing. It’s constantly changing. ‘Let me get in the middle.’ ‘We’re…both of us are getting
in the middle.’ [Notre Dame Drumline cheers] The equipment that we choose matters. We have to be ready for any kind
of situation and our gear has to be reliable all day. ‘Go for it guys.’
[Notre Dame Drumline chants] ‘Go for it.’
[Notre Dame Drumline chants] ‘Lift it up.’
[Notre Dame Drumline chants] [Notre Dame Drumline continues to chant] For the last 10
years, I primarily have worked as a documentary sports
cinematographer. I guess you could say the
beginning of my Canon story was when my dad took me out to the
desert to NAB and I saw the Canon XL1 for the first time. It was the newest, coolest thing
on the market. I purchased that first Canon XL1
and that started me down the path of really trying to start
making my own movies and short films. One specific
style of shooting I do is the documentary sports shooting. That’s where I get thrown into a
situation with a professional athlete and we’re there
capturing everything as it happens. We need equipment that doesn’t fail us. We can’t have a lot of people around. So one guy gets to get a front
row seat to the action and the camera that he chooses is the C300. And that’s because it is the
camera that is fully self-contained that has
everything I need to be able to capture scenes and deliver
footage that can be quickly uploaded and edited into a
piece. About six years ago, I had the opportunity and got
invited into the NBC Sports family by a mentor and fellow
cinematographer Samson Chan. He invited me into the crew that
would go and shoot the host cities for the Olympics before
the actual games. So what that was, was shooting
the culture and the music and the sounds and the sights and
really just introducing the American audience to the
Olympics. Because of a company like NBC’s technical requirements, we usually end up shooting an 8K
RED Epic and pair those with Canon lenses. Oftentimes we’re using the
smaller, compact Cine Zooms. We also heavily use the prime
lens sets for the more stylistic and promo shoots. When it comes
to game time and we can’t be on the field, that’s when we switch to the 30
to 300 and it gets us those real intimate shots without
disturbing any of the action. ♪♪♪ A perfect example of the
versatility of these lenses is when we were shooting a surfing
competition earlier this summer. I started on the MOVI, we had
the Primes and we were doing a lot of follows, and following
surfers down to the water. When the surfers get in the water, that’s when we need to switch
over to something longer like the 30 to 300. It’s sharp and crisp all the way
through. The action is very smooth on it. It’s something
that I can operate with one hand. In a lot of these situations,
we don’t have an ability to ask an athlete to do
a second take. So we got to nail it the first time,
and sharp Cine glass makes a difference. ♪♪♪ As a freelance cinematographer, I could be on a Golf Channel
shoot and then I could go to a UFC shoot. The Canon C300 is
kind of synonymous with being the run-and-gun kind of
workhorse camera that you can be your own shooter-producer,
record your own audio. A lot of these clients that I’m shooting
for have a quick turnaround. They’re cutting daily episodes
and they need everything on a card ready to go, ready to be edited. ♪♪♪ Working in Korea the conditions
were tough. The weather was super cold and
the back focus on my lens needed to be adjusted. I made contact with the Canon
rep on site and he came to our lunch commissary room, pulled
out his focus chart, and adjusted the back focus on my
lens right there in the cafeteria. I was able to quickly get back
on my feet, out onto the slopes, and continue shooting. I’ve gone from the documentary
kind of world and I’m tiptoeing now into the promos department
where we have more people and we can execute bigger visions. I had dreamed up an idea to put
a 6k light on a drone and fly that above the Notre Dame
Drumline. While I was on the ground with my MOVI, the Cine
Prime’s capturing all this footage and it was just a really
cool, unique experience. ♪♪♪ I’m really excited for where I’m
going in the sports world. I’m really trying to push
boundaries and give the viewer something they haven’t seen. Whether it’s the XL1 or the Cine
Primes, I can’t picture a time in my career without Canon and
I’m really excited for what the future holds. ♪♪♪

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