Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Shooting Snow

I have a case that have to go shooting for the TV commercial at the North pole.

I have no idea what it's gonna be in the lowest temperature( I heard that -20 c). Do you know what we
have to prepare for the camera? or Can you recommend the rental house which expert for shooting I this case?

Thank you so much

Pinn Jintanapornphan

It'll be colder than -20, it was -25 just inside the Arctic circle in March/April when I was shooting a Colgate commercial.

Look at:-



Everything will take a lot longer than normal, people will be slow. Electronics can be weird, have mechanical back-up if you can.

Lenses need re-greasing with thinner lubricants.


Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU Based

Pinn Jintanapornphan writes :

>>... commercial at the North pole....what we have to prepare for the camera?
>>Can you recommend the rental house ?

Hey Pinn,

Besides these uncomfortable temperatures for humans themselves ,your gear should be ready for winter conditions .

I can only think of one place for you to go rent your equipment, and that is Clairmont Camera. Expertise,great techs… My -50 C shoot in the North of Quebec went great ,thanx to the gear I had and the support of my team, but I don t know where you are from ,you didn't write it for us .Are you in video or film ?

Basic ideas for handling equipment in extreme cold : (goes for film and video)

- Camera always covered with Polar blanket (Always !!!).On longer stand-by add a sound blanket on top of the polar one .
- Have the Power on the camera at all times .Don t let sit more then 2 minutes unplugged ,unless you don t plan to use it for an hour or 2 .
- Batteries stuffed in soft shell cooler bags ,rapped with polar blanket (remember to let air pass ).
- If camera is carried on long distance ,dissemble it completely .
- Lenses should be ''winterized''. Meaning the grease inside should be changed for the winter conditions .
- AC should check focus mark in the morning and after every 2+ hours .It is amazing and also terrible ,but it changes ,it s no illusion.
- Eye piece heater element should be wrapped with polar fabric (The cold wind directly on the element will cancel the heating properties)
- Every screw or nobs you will tight ,will get stiffer even more. Don't overtight, you will regret it .
- Be sure before you leave that you will supplied with a strong stable generator, or else you will never have fully charged batteries.
- If possible ,get heaters for your mags(Clairmont has them).It will avoid frozen film and breakage when you thread it in the camera .
- This might sound weird but will help you .Make a note to your AC that every
minute or so ,when not shooting ,hit the phase button once for a couple of second .The movement won't be frozen too long before you run it at 24fps,and also helps the film inside the chamber not to get stiff .
High speed will take longer to reach in cold ,so don t worry about that .(on video camera, hit your REC button for a sec or 2,to have the tape move and
stay loose)
- Between -50 C and -30C outside temperatures ,anything that it is at -10C and under (warmed up tent ,heated car ,your hand touching the lenses or filter ,etc....) will fog the element you are touching. Ever tried to scrap ice off a filter or lens ? At these temperatures ,fogging a lens eye piece or filter becomes ice not water .So be careful...
- Defog time at these temperatures is +1hour or so .(call that the quick defog we gotta shoot!) .If you seal the camera in a plastic bag and put it in a case, it will take longer ,but the camera won't be ''sweating'' the ice melting on it. Usually it s the electronics inside that will give you the go, so don t stress them ,give them time to accommodate to the new temperatures. Humidity on electronics is the worst that can happen, so keep them warm by having the camera powered as much as possible.

Anyways ,always more to say ,but that’s the idea ...Tell us more about where
you are and more about your project .We might be able to help you better.

Eric Bensoussan 1st AC

Eric -

Great advise!
I will print and keep for possible future cold shoots.

Craig Finetti

>>I have no idea what it's gonna be in the lowest temperature( I heard that ->>20 c).

The current temperature at Canadian Forces Base Alert (farthest north you can get on land here in Canada - 82 degrees north) is -30 C. Here is a table of average seasonal temperatures from that weather station:

Temperature: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Daily Average (°C)-32.3 -33.4 -32.4 -24.3 -11.8 -0.8 3.3 0.8 -9.2 -19.3 -26.4 -30
Daily Maximum (°C) -28.8 -29.8 -28.7 -20.5 -8.7 1.7 6 3.3 -6.1 -15.8 -22.8
Daily Minimum (°C) -35.9 -37 -36 -28.1 -14.9 -3.2 0.7 -1.8 -12.2 -22.8 -30

There are also buoys in the Arctic Ocean (and a manned Russian ice station) which report current weather conditions... You can check these daily at

George Hupka
Downstream Pictures
Saskatoon, Canada

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