Craig Hansen, Al Jazeera & Kyno: delivering on danger

Craig Hansen isn’t afraid to put himself out there on his shoots. In fact, over his storied career, he has filmed drug arrests of Australians in Bali, intense battles along the frontlines of Afghanistan, and even the Boxing Day Tsunami off the west coast of Indonesia.

Over the years, Hansen has built a reputation for capturing real-time coverage of dangerous situations and international exposés. His fearless nature has seen him employed by ABC, Channel 9 and Channel 10.

Now, Hansen plies his craft as a senior cameraman on Al Jazeera International’s flagship current affairs program ‘101 East’. The stories he captures take Hansen all across Asian Pacific — meaning careful media management is key to ensure all footage is kept in check.

Geared up

When working on a global level — often in hazardous environments — it’s important for Hansen to be prepared for any situation.

“In my current job, every clip is a major project,” he reflects on his craft. “Shooting documentaries in a tight time frame requires a lot of pre-planning and good time management.

“I use a Canon C300 as my main camera. I also use a Canon 5D MkIII, GoPros, a DJI Osmo and Phantom III drone, as well as a variety of micro cameras. All of these devices require a dedicated viewer to check the individual rushes.”

Sifting through the footage from this wide range of cameras, codecs and programs became a time consuming process for Hansen. His shooting schedules and on-the-go global projects means that he needed a solution that enabled viewing of every format via a single player. Kyno was that solution.

“Now, I can wrangle all of my day’s work onto hard drives, view and log everything I’ve shot onto the one program directly,” he says. “This makes logging a much simpler process, and makes shoots more about creativity over logistics.”

Undercover access

In a brilliant example of how filmmaking can combat corruption, Hansen recently worked on Al Jazeera documentary Babies For Sale; an investigative story on how easy it is to buy a baby illegally in Malaysia and acquire fake birth certificates.

Using a variety of undercover camera gear, including micro devices which operate on a unique codec, Hansen spent months slowly gathering evidence. The footage steadily piled up; hard drives had countless submenus filled with shots from different days, locations and events. Yet, only a small fraction of this data was usable.

“Kyno saved the day when it came to logging the vision,” explains Hansen. “With nearly 2TBs of material, Kyno allowed us to view all of it in one window. I’d just find that day’s file on the hard drive, select drill down mode, and everything loaded up in thumbnails — no matter which camera it was shot on.

“It’s hard to just overstate just how valuable that was.”

Detailed delegation

If required, Kyno can also export subclips to quickly process or distribute top priority content. Not detailed enough? Kyno can narrow down to a specific frame and tag it for reference. These markers can then be used to to log, describe or batch-export stills; something that proves invaluable when delegating shots and sequences to other members of the team.

“Shooting a documentary means shooting a lot of material,” says Hansen. “Part of my work practice is to visually check all the clips that I’ve shot so that I can log what is on the hard drive for our correspondents, producers and editors to work with at a later date.

“This used to be a massive task using several viewers. Kyno has simplified this process. The less time I spend on the laptop logging material, the more time I can spend gathering content.”

Squared away

When it comes to editing, Hansen can not only send files with metadata to Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere Pro for all-in-one editing; it also provides a brilliant overview of footage without having to import any clips.

“The ability to view everything I’ve shot in a day with thumbnails is a great time saver. The fact that you can scrub through the clip to find a specific segment is great. If I was using Canon XF Utility, for example, I’d have to watch the whole clip in real time to find the right take. For people that come from the days of shooting on tape and disk, this is much more like watching a camera tape in a player. It’s a lot easier and quicker to shortlist,” says Hansen.

On the road again

Fast, efficient and comprehensible; Kyno is now a vital part of Craig Hansen’s workflow. He’s gradually introducing more and more of his colleagues at Al Jazeera to Kyno, revealing the software’s potential.

“Our days can be long on the road — anything that smoothes out and speeds up the process, especially at the back end of the day, is a welcome addition to my toolkit,” he concludes.”

“I would, have, and will continue to suggest Kyno to others working in this field.”

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