South America contains a wide variety of landscapes, cultures, and languages. It is approximately 6,890,000 square miles and is home to 401 million people according to the Population Reference Bureau. Crews Control has long-standing relationships with video crews in most major cities all over South America including: Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Bogota, Lima, Santiago, and Caracas. Here is some advice for shooting video in South America from our local video crews and Crews Control’s experienced production team.
TEN: “Do the homework necessary so you don´t run into unnecessary surprises. For example, Visa considerations. Take the time in advance for this, don´t leave it for the last minute, it takes time” said Crews Control DP Frank Spinosa.
NINE: “It´s a good idea to have a trusted local that can open doors and show you the way, like a fixer, it´s also safer” said Spinosa.
EIGHT: South America has both PAL and NTSC countries. Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina are native PAL countries whose main frequency is 50 Hz so the native frame rates that correspond are 50 or 25 fps. Since the U.S. is NTSC our line frequency is 60 Hz so our corresponding frame rates are 23.98, 24, 29.97, 30, 59.94, and 60fps. Most high definition and digital cinema cameras are capable of shooting all the frame rates above. It is always a good idea to discuss frame rates with your DP before the video shoot.
SEVEN: “Remember that in Brazil, Portuguese is the official language of Brazil. Border cities often speak both Spanish and Portuguese. There are even areas that were settled by Italian and German immigrants that have Italian and German languages as their main languages” said Crews Control Production Manager Brad Spinsby.
SIX: Get a language App. All of our DP’s speak English and often translate for Producers on location. It is always appreciated to put forth a little effort, know a couple key phrases in the native language to ease the interviewee. There are many foreign language apps available on iTunes that will help you navigate South America
FIVE: Prearrange local travel or have a good understanding of local public transit. Depending on your shoot locations and subjects you may be able to take public transportation, rent a vehicle, or ride with the local crew.
FOUR: Familiarize yourself with local customs. If you have to arrange your own travel and you are stuck in finding accommodations it is always good to ask locals for lodging and restaurant advice. Our local crews are generally happy to make suggestions when asked in advance.
THREE: Passport and other travel information. You will need a valid passport to enter every country in South America. Don’t glaze over this tip. It is also important to note that many countries require passport validity past your stay. For example if you are going to Brazil or Venezuela you will need a valid passport 6 months after the end of your trip to enter the country…check those dates! The U.S. Passport & International Travel website also has other important information like the number of blank pages needed to entry each country, vaccination requirements, currency restrictions, and tourist visa information.
TWO: If you choose to travel with some professional video equipment a Carnet will need to be filled out prior to entering the country. “Find out in advance what will be better for your production, hiring local or if it´s better to carry your own gear” said Frank Spinosa.
ONE: “Carry enough hard currency, money talks, credit cards don´t” said Spinosa. You can often get the best exchange rates at ATM machines. Depending on your bank accounts withdraw limits it may be best to prearrange for currency to be delivered to you prior to leaving the United States.
Have you traveled to South America for a video production lately? What video locales within South America have you filmed in? What tips or stories can you share with us?