Jason Wingrove is an award-winning Australian director and cinematographer of television and cinema commercials, documentaries, high end corporate films and shorts. He brings a unique reportage style and honest documentary feel to his work, traveling extensively doing just that. The results have received international accolades, garnering awards at Clio, Axis, MADC, ATV, AWARD, ACS, Cannes and numerous Worldwide Film Festivals.
“The best technology is invisible. A storage solution should just get out of the way and let you do what you want to do quickly and efficiently.”
In this day and age, where do commercials stop and documentaries start? There no longer are obvious answers. What artists do for fun and fulfillment and what they do to pay the bills every month increasingly seem to be overlapping.
Edges blur, perhaps in part because the edges in imaging equipment markets are blurring as well. Commercials used to be shot on high-end studio equipment while documentaries were often made on much lower-end cameras able to survive on the road. Now, the latest DSLR models can provide top-grade video suitable for practically any commercial or creative purpose. For professionals, like award-winning Australian director and cinematographer Jason Wingrove, this means much more flexibility topursue his work however he pleases and bringmore imagination to traditional bread-and-butter offerings.
“A lot of the stuff I shoot for companies now is very much like longer form,” says Wingrove. “They probably want a 30-second cut for TV, but they’re very much, if not more, interested in a longer-form cut for YouTube. It’s less hard sell, more honest, more natural… and more watchable. They’re finally realizing that if you’re going to advertise, you have to earn the right to be watched. You have to make it engaging with story and emotion. Clients are getting happier with a less rigid way of shooting, but that means you end up shooting a lot more footage.”
The challenge of managing that footage has scaled right alongside the increase in freedom and originality Wingrove’s clients have offered him. Between ballooning job sizes and the ability of DSLRs like his 22.1-megapixel Canon® EOS 5D Mark III to output uncompressed video, Wingrove’s storage needs have quickly exploded into the terabytes. The ability to tell better stories comes with some technical requirements. In adapting to those requirements, Wingrove expects his business and his art to benefit considerably.
When most people consider “storage requirements,” they think of capacity. Certainly, the number of available gigabytes is important – nothing creates expletives faster than running out of space in the middle of a project – but Wingrove recently received a reminder about a different kind of storage requirement.
He was returning from a two-week shoot in Prague, which involved three days of multiple-camera EPIC footage. The bag containing his laptop and storage drive got lost. As Wingrove continued on to Sydney, his backpack took a scenic detour to Hong Kong, where it was unceremoniously dumped on the tarmac and left to sit in the rain. The bag and its contents were soaked and didn’t arrive home for another two days. But when Wingrove received the bag from the airline, he found that the project storage drive – a G-Technology G-RAID® mini – performed perfectly.1 He sat down with it and got to work.
“Obviously, production has backups in Prague, and our agency producers have a backup in New York,” says Wingrove. “It’s not like I would’ve lost everything, but I would have lost the ability to come home, do a high-definition cut straight off the drive, and give them my version of the edit before the New York agency even has a chance to start their edit.2 That means I can get my 2 cents in first and be the person to make the good first impression with my rushes.”
In addition to the G-RAID mini, Wingrove also uses a 2TB G-DRIVE® on his desktop and a pair of G-DRIVE® slims he takes on the road. Perhaps as a result of the changing industry, he sees compact, reliable storage drives as essential as creative pros use them to pass around multiple copies of their work to other people within their workflow, and to their clients. Of course, the kind of drive passed out makes a statement about the giver, and Wingrove prefers G-Technology for such purposes because it connotes the quality, reliability and performance he wants people to associate with his name.
The director confesses to owning a “drive drawer” – his dizzying, many-branded collection of internal and external drives amassed over the years. Only a handful of storage drives remain in his everyday use, principally the G-Technology models, and he looks forward to upgrading to the newly released G-DOCK ev™ with Thunderbolt™. In essence, the G-DOCK ev is a two-bay enclosure designed to stay tethered to a production system. Each bay can hold either a G-DRIVE® ev (up to 136 MB/s data transfer rates) or a G-DRIVE® ev PLUS (up to 250 MB/s) external drive module. These rugged units serve as regular, bus-powered USB 3.0 drives in the field, then pop into the G-DOCK ev with Thunderbolt when it’s time for copying, editing and production.
“You can’t just have a crappy big box retailer $2 USB thing,” says Wingrove. “You want something that is going to be fast and reliable for storage and backup. And if you start cutting 4K HD on the road, you can get the necessary speed out of ev drives. 3 Then, when you get back home, you don’t have to start backing this stuff up onto a bigger RAID. You just dock the G-DRIVE ev external hard drive modules straight into your system. You start working and don’t fish around for power supplies and odd cables. It’s going to be a system that will take me from location to my edit room easily. It’s got the interfaces to be fast when I’m on the road with a laptop and fast when I’m docked to a larger machine. That’s what’s appealing.”
Still Getting Better
Wingrove has been behind the camera professionally since stepping out of film school decades ago, and he’s been winning awards worldwide since 1998. In that time, he’s thrived thanks to his talent and professionalism, but it hasn’t been easy. Assignments frequently call for him to tackle big shoots on location with little or no support crew.
Not surprisingly, such conditions have taught him to travel small, light and fast. He takes pride in carrying the most compact kit possible with the highest level of functionality, performance and reliability, as he never knows when the next unplanned, surprisingly damp Hong Kong layover might strike.
“It only takes one incident where you lose everything to think twice about the gear you buy and drag around. I have very small rigs. It’s that mindset that leads me to products like the G-RAID mini. It’s the best you can buy – in the smallest package with the highest performance and build quality.”
Despite traveling light, Wingrove is about to migrate from shooting 5K to 6K footage. Obviously this will spike his already lofty amounts of data generation to stratospheric heights. Without proper forethought for storage, it’s a move that could cripple his creativity.
“I don’t want to have to make camera choices based on how much data I create. I want to make the right choice, visually, for the job. I should never be in a position where I think, ‘Oh, heck, I’m going to capture a lot of data here. It’s going to take too long to copy, transfer and backup, and will slow me down.’ The best technology is invisible. A storage solution should just get out of the way and let you do what you want to do quickly and efficiently.”
This invisibility and efficiency is exactly why Wingrove has made G-Technology an important part of his business for the last four years. While the G-DOCK ev™ with Thunderbolt™ will be the next step in Wingrove’s G-Technology adoption, it won’t be his last. Because right now, he’s getting too many emails from clients asking how he was able to turn around his work so impossibly quick – and he wants to keep it that way.