Thomas Schmithausen & Kyno: a documentarian’s best friend

Documentarians must wait for lightning to strike during filming, and the copious shooting in preparation for those moments can leave little time to manage footage. Luckily, Kyno is here to help, as director of photography Thomas Schmithausen reveals.

Over a 30-year career, Thomas Schmithausen has grown from cameraman to director of photography, tackling a great deal of varied tasks behind the camera and earning a vast array of experience.

Schmithausen started out in 1986 — he worked for a number of German television networks, shooting news stories and brief documentaries as cameraman, before expanding into work for major international networks such as NBC, ITV, Sky, and CBS.

Later, he shifted into corporate filmmaking, shooting company films and commercials for top brands like Sony, Panasonic, Opel, Telekom, and Mercedes-Benz (the last of those being “an extraordinary experience”).

Today, Schmithausen primarily focuses on shooting travel guide documentaries as director of photography. Working across the United States, Europe, Mexico, Canada, Dubai, and the Maldives, Schmithausen delivers content that sells beautiful locations via stunning visual narratives.

To make sure he’s selecting the right content quickly, easily and seamlessly, Schmithausen turns to Kyno.

Lots of footage, little time

Shooting a documentary requires a great deal more footage than viewers eventually witness on screen — and that takes a lot more time. Documentarians must shoot a wealth of footage, then choose the most compelling elements to weave into the documentary’s final narrative.

And that shoot remains truly at the mercy of its subjects, the available light, Mother Nature, and many other unpredictable variables. Factor in tight deadlines and a difficult shoot can be an exhausting and laborious process.

“When shooting a documentary, you really never know what might happen,” begins Schmithausen, fresh from a recent shoot in Spain. “You need to wait for the perfect moment, get up early in the morning to capture a certain event, or come back late in the evening to shoot in the perfect light. That’s challenging itself, more so when you’re working to a timeframe of 10 days for a 50-minute film., which I did on my last shoot.”

This is where Kyno proves extremely useful. For Schmithausen, he can quickly tag the elements he wants for editing later down the line, without the fuss that such a process has presented in the past.

“Kyno really does streamline the process of managing and overseeing your footage,” says Schmithausen. “I can easily mark the footage I’m most pleased with and then send it all off to Final Cut Pro — that’s extremely useful.”

Streamlined with Kyno

“Kyno is invaluable when you check and rate your content in the evening following a shoot,” says Schmithausen, detailing the nightly struggle to sort through footage and prepare himself for the next day’s action.

“You can quickly download your day’s work from the memory cards and Kyno does the rest. You save a lot of time; that’s important after a long day’s shoot, when you want to make sure that your footage is organised and stored away as quickly as possible.”

Before working with Kyno, Schmithausen juggled various pieces of software to do just one job — but Kyno cuts through all of the noise: “Kyno is the one-stop solution for filmmakers. You can check, rate the files, change metadata, export previews for the director, and get everything in order for editing — it’s all there in one package.”

Kyno has transformed Schmithausen’s workflow, ensuring that he isn’t scrambling every evening during a tight international shoot. For Schmithausen, all travelling filmmakers should have it in their toolkit.

Kyno is a simple, effective tool — it really makes your life so much easier.”