Exploring Angkor Wat for Google Maps and National Geographic Creative

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Assignments come in every shape and size—exciting, interesting, grueling, trying. But every once in a while one comes along that is pure fun. Shooting a film for the Google Trekker program at Angkor Wat in Cambodia was exactly one of those coveted assignments.

The concept was cool: Shoot in a style that mimicked the experience of actually exploring the place. With the humble goal of inspiring viewers to get outside and actually explore the place themselves. To do that, we decided to leave the tripods behind, keep the camera in motion and find all of the cool little elements that make a visit to Angkor Watt an unforgettable experience.

One of my favorite tools right now for achieving that type of visual effect is the three-axis gimble. Many of the shots used in the film were shot with a Canon 5D Mark III camera, a modified Zeiss ZF 25mm lens and a BeSteady gimble. This small, nimble kit let us run down hallways, climb stairs and hang the camera over water with little struggle and incredible result. We stayed fast and nimble, constantly able to capture little moments in a dynamic way. I’m also a sucker for RED, so all additional footage was shot with a RED Epic at 4k and 5k resolution, often at high speed. I love the way these two cameras compliment each other visually and shoot almost exclusively with them together right now.

The video, paired with what Google calls “hyperlapse,” or sped up footage from the Trekker, creates a playful, immersive experience that certainly takes me right back to our days exploring this ancient city. I certainly hope that the film makes viewers excited to experience it too. Check out the video out below.