Thin Green Line’s Amanda Dudgeon recorded her fellow rangers in action on a journey round Australia, using the Panasonic LUMIX S5 mirrorless camera with the Atomos Ninja V+ recorder.
The Thin Green Line Foundation aims to raise awareness and support for rangers working in conservation around the world. Amanda Dudgeon is among Thin Green Line’s most dedicated supporters in Oceania, a long-term volunteer who has worked as a ranger in some of Australia’s most beautiful landscapes, from the scorching deserts of central Australia to freezing Macquarie Island, half-way between Tasmania and Antarctica.
In 2022, she undertook a solo 366-day expedition to Walk the Thin Green Line – a journey of over 94,500km around Australia – to document the work of the country’s rangers by recording interviews and scenes from their lives. Her goal is to tell their compelling stories and to bring awareness to their role in protecting natural and cultural heritage across the region. She is now using the extensive digital content collected during her travels to produce a feature documentary.
While travelling on her own through remote areas under challenging, varied outdoor conditions, Amanda needed to be able to film the ranger interviews and environmental footage at cinema quality. To do this, Amanda worked with Atomos, the expedition’s major sponsor, to put together key products to cover her video production needs and support her storytelling efforts. The gear included the Atomos Ninja V+ external monitor-recorder to use with a Panasonic LUMIX S5 full-frame mirrorless camera.
The LUMIX S5’s 24.2MP CMOS sensor uses the Panasonic dual native ISO, contributing to low noise images and video in lighting conditions ranging from harsh bright sunlight to nearly dark. Amanda could also select the shutter speed and aperture she wanted in low-light conditions.
Especially relevant to this project is the camera’s firmware update version 2.0 that allows the Ninja to record 5.9K 12-bit Apple ProRes RAW video directly from the S5’s HDMI output. This format holds the information needed to preserve image quality, while maintaining manageable file sizes.
The 5-inch HDR touchscreen of the Ninja is very bright, which was invaluable for monitoring footage in sunny outdoor environments – Amanda could change settings and view audio levels at a tap of the screen. Because of its light weight and adaptable design she was able to position the monitor however she needed to get the shot she wanted, whether standing, sitting or holding the rig herself.
Atomos also supplied fast AtomX SSDmini drives. These gave Amanda the essential capacity to capture hours of footage without constant concern about running out of space, a critical factor in keeping the production flowing from day to day. She used them with a high-speed AtomX SSDmini reader/writer to back up the footage on her laptop. At the start of this project, Amanada was a fairly inexperienced videographer, and she remarked that, overall, the Ninja gave her the flexibility and confidence to get the shots she needed in diverse, uncontrolled environments – especially while working on her own.
The Ninja Difference
"The Ninja made a huge difference in my efforts to capture cinema-quality footage on this expedition. The bright HDR screen meant I could monitor shots in harsh outdoor light, and recording directly to ProRes RAW onto the SSDs gave me excellent quality from the LUMIX S5. Even better, the light, adaptable design made it possible to shoot handheld and set up interviews anywhere the route took me, even when conditions varied from 45° C to -4° C. That flexibility was essential to record as many ranger interviews and external videos as possible.”
Without the Ninja's functionality and portability, she doubts that she could have filmed the stories of Oceania's rangers on location, to the quality she required. “I certainly wouldn’t now be studying for a Diploma in Film at SAE Creative Institute, while working full time as a ranger as well as making the documentary, without having had the support and belief in my abilities from the Atomos team from the very beginning,” she said.
Using the Ninja, Amanda captured over 30TB of ProRes RAW interviews and environmental footage during her Thin Green Line expedition. She is currently reviewing and shot listing the footage in preparation for her feature-length documentary slated for release in 2024. www.atomos.com