How I shot a promo video for MAN Trucks & Buses in just one day.

What do you get when you spend a day at Fraser Island with photographer and tour guide, Peter Meyer? You get this promotional video for M.A.N. Trucks & Buses.

One of the areas in which I dominate with custom video production, particularly with promotional video, is with one-man-band video productions. These videos are shot in real time and are true 'run & gun' style. These video projects start with a basic brief from my client and some clear objectives, but that's about it. From there on, its a creative process that happens in the moment and I love it.

For this project, I was asked to spend a day with professional photographer and ranger tour guide, Peter Meyer. My mission was to produce a promo video for MAN Trucks & Buses which featured an interview with Peter as well as footage that showcased the MAN vehicles operating in the harsh but beautiful landscapes found at Fraser Island.

This was my first trip to Fraser. I didn't know a great deal about the island other than it being 4WD country and something about Dingoes. So, after ensuring my family and I checked in safely at the wonderful Kingfisher Bay Resort, we enjoyed dinner and a swim before settling in for an early night.

Triple Check You Have All Your Equipment

On this particular gig, I had to travel light. I was going to be walking on sand and jumping in and out of a 4WD bus all day. But I was also going to be recording a two camera interview on the beach, so I needed to ensure I had all the gear required.

  • Cameras (assorted GoPros, main and secondary)
  • Lenses, filters & cleaning cloths!
  • Tripods
  • GoPro accessories
  • Memory cards, backup memory cards
  • Batteries

I was up early the next morning and triple checking my cameras, making sure they were good to go. With batteries charged and SD cards formatted, I carried all my gear down to reception where I would be meeting Peter.

Be On Time!

There is a saying that even if you arrive on time, you're late! 

I always aim to arrive at my destination at least 15 minutes before the agreed time. Doing so not only allows for any unexpected delays (traffic, getting lost etc) but it also gives you time to be fully prepared and ready for your client.

Right on 8am, Peter arrives, says G'day and picks up my tripod before heading out to the bus. In the blink of an eye, I was sitting in the passenger seat of a MAN bus and we were headed for the sandy tracks of Fraser Island.

Be Ready for Everything & Anything!

The first 30 seconds of the 4WD bus ride were pleasant enough, but then we exited the gates and the smooth gravel gave way to uneven, sandy two wheel tracks. I spent the first few minutes flopping around the cabin before finally discovering where to hold on. Conversation and filming for that matter, isn't easy when you're literally being launched from your seat every few seconds.

Peter is no stranger to media. Just the day before he had spent 14 hours with a film crew from Germany. Today, it was just me, him and the bus. The great thing about Peter being a tour guide on the island for 19 years is he obviously knows where the good spots are. After driving for about 30 minutes, we arrived at a section of the track surrounded by super tall trees which provided a great backdrop for some action shots.

Armed with my trusty HD-2000 steadycam, a GH4 and a GoPro, I worked with Peter to shoot a variety of shots and totally enjoyed my day travelling across Fraser Island. The scenery was amazing.

Lake McKenzie was particularly amazing. I don't think I've seen water as clear as it was that day.

It was a super hot day and I just wanted to forget about filming and go swimming.

In fact, the lake was so nice that I decided to sell a Harley Davidson that I owned at the time and I ended up buying a 4WD so that I could bring my family back here.

I got the 4WD, just need to get back there now.

We had lunch along the eastern beach at the Eurong Beach Resort before heading up to check out the Maheno shipwreck. There is not much of it left nowadays. Another couple decades at most and I rekon it will be gone.

The heat of the day was starting to back off a little and it was really nice spending time on the beach. I got some great footage of the MAN bus travelling over beach rocks and waterways. It was along this beach that I shot the video interview with Peter too.

I was also fortunate enough to get a quick flight with the boys from Air Fraser Island and managed (just) to get some aerial footage.

Always Be Open To Learning New Lessons

I met with the pilot and had the whole (8 seater) plane to myself. Once we were at altitude, I opened the door and basically held on to my (strapless) camera as tight as I could whilst were did a couple flyovers.

Lesson #1: Always pack a camera strap.

The plane traveled a lot faster than I expected so I didn't have a whole lot of time to frame the shot as I would have liked.

It's also (perhaps not very surprisingly) very difficult to shoot video while hanging out of a plane! Still, I managed to get a couple seconds worth which is all I needed so that is a big win.

By now it was mid afternoon and with just over one hours drive back to the resort, it was time to set up for Peter's interview on the beach.

I set up two cameras with your classic wide and close up shots. It was rather windy on the beach so some time was spent ensuring no wind noise was captured.

After a good 20 minutes or so, we were ready to shoot the interview. I manned my main camera and checked my secondary camera in between questions.

It wasn't until I got the footage into my editing suite in the days that followed that I noticed the framing on the secondary camera moved during the interview.

Lesson #2: Be weary of tripods sinking into sand during interviews.

Above All - Enjoy Yourself

With an hours drive back to Kingfisher Bay Resort, we wrapped up the interview and settled in for the bumpy ride back to my HQ.

My shirt was soaked in sweat and my shoes (and jeans) were filled with sand. Peter was surely having a giggle to himself watching 'city slicker' Dave trying to deal with all the challenges that Fraser Island through at me. 

I was extremely happy and glad when I finally made it back to the hotel room and was able to clean myself up. Nothing like a shower and a fresh set of clothes. Beer, too.

But man, what an awesome day I had. The edit came together nicely and my client provided some great feedback. It was a great experience and I would like to give a special thanks to Peter for all his help and cooperation on the day.

Special thanks also to the wonderful staff and management at the Kingfisher Bay Resort and Air Fraser Island.