UK ARMY – EVEREST EXPEDITION

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Date: April 2006
Location: Nepal
Distributor: British Army Website
Credits: directed, filmed and edited by Claudio von Planta
Co-Director/Cameraman: Simon Atkins
Website Architects: True Clarity
 
Winner of Campaign Digital Awards for Best Digital Campaign of 2006

 
EVERST EXPEDITION is a series of 30 podcasts for a British Army website. The videos show the experiences of 8 junior soldiers during a Himalayan expedition in Nepal.



Production Notes:

It was a major challenge to shoot, edit and satellite uplink daily videos under extreme conditions – on the move, at altitudes up to 5800 meters and sometimes at temperatures below minus 30 degrees Celsius. I have never done that before and didn’t know whether I could cope.
 
As a precaution I teamed up with fellow cameraman / director Simon Atkins. He had previous high altitude mountaineering experience whilst I had never before climbed higher than 4500 meters. Our aim was to reach Island Peak, a neighbouring summit of Mount Everest at 6200 meters. There was a risk that I might get altitude sickness. By joining with Simon I figured that I would have a better chance of succeeding with the daily video production.
 
To my great surprise I had the least health problems of the entire expedition team. 5 out of the 8 junior soldiers succumbed to bronchitis and were unable to recover. Fortunately I never caught the bug. Apparently it’s a well known fact that very fit young adults often struggle more at altitudes than older people.
 
Unfortunately we never made it to the top of Island Peak because we were snowed in on the last day and had to run away from avalanches. I wasn’t overly disappointed. The opportunity to test my skills in extreme conditions and play around with new equipment was already a good enough experience for me.
 
The whole expedition was an unforgettable experience. I was thrilled to discover the beauty of the Himalayas and meet the Nepalese Sherpas who were absolutely incredible. I also made great friends with the British Army team and learnt lots of new technical skills. Now I simply need to find a new opportunity to go back.
 
Technical Notes

For filming we used the very small Sony HVR-A1 HDV cameras. It was the best compromise between weight and quality. I’m very impressed by these little toys. We never had any problems, not even at minus 30 degrees Celsius or in very damp snowy conditions.
 
For charging batteries we used a little Honda generator. Even at 5800 meters altitude we still managed to run this impressive machine.
 
For the video uplinks to the Army website we used a Huges Bgan satellite dish. We never had any problems with that piece of kit.
 
For video editing we had to use a special Panasonic laptop with a solid state hard disc. Allegedly normal hard drives crash at high altitudes.

 

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