donald ong

First Flight | Phantom 4

"For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return" 


Every once in a while, something happens which completely changes your perspective on something - A complete paradigm shift, even. For me, that was the DJI Phantom 4. Prior to this, I have never considered using drones for video work, especially not as a wedding shooter. It seemed far too impractical for a fast paced event like weddings. That, of course, changed when we got a wedding client who specifically requested the use of a drone. 

So we went out and rented a Phantom 4. Two weeks before the shoot. Why not.

Phantom 4 donald ong visuals


And that's when it happened. From the moment I got the drone in the air, I was hooked. Having flown an actual aircraft before (and thoroughly enjoying it), flying the drone gave a similar sense of freedom. It reminded me of what it was like to be in the air again. To have no boundaries, no limits. I was hooked. If there was a gateway drug for flying, this was it.

The first 5 minutes was trying to figure out the controls and setting up the DJI App. While setting up a drone may seem daunting at first, it really wasn't. Within 10 minutes, I was in the air, recording breathtaking visuals and making complex arching moves and flight patterns. It was amazing.

Aerial shot dji donald ong visuals

It's humbling to think that less than a decade ago, a shot like this would have required chartering a helicopter with incredibly expensive, cumbersome gimbal-based camera rigs. Now, this is possible with a drone that fits in a backpack and costs less than 1 hour of fuel for said helicopter. 

Operating the drone

Pointing the drone in literally any direction, we found interesting compositions and shots that we wouldn't otherwise have gotten from the ground. It really was a breath of fresh air. That fresh air didn't last long, though. After 3 batteries and around an hour, we were out of juice, and our bird had to come back down. It was an absolute thrill. As I had my Sony FS5 handy with me at the time, I decided to make a short film (Video above!) out of the experience, while my mate commandeered the drone.  

In a way, though, I regret flying the drone - Because now I want one.

A journey through sand - SAND Co watches (The Release)

"SAND Co is a startup aiming to produce exquisitely unique handmade watches with the following outrageous premise - No two watches identical. As crazy as it sounds, they've actually managed to pull it off, with a unique paint dipping process to create a unique watch every single time, on every single dial." - Part I of A journey through Sand

It's finally here!

So if you've been following our blog and instagram pages, you would likely have known about our collaboration with SAND Co watches. Well, after much anticipation and many rounds of press letters and re-edits, the kickstarter campaign has finally launched, along with the official promotional film we produced! Do check it out!

SAND Co watches are meticulously handmade with a unique marbling process which ensures every watch is totally unique, just like its owner. Do check out their kick-starter campaign to learn more or show your support!

sand watches donald ong visuals

If you would like to learn more about the backstage process of producing the film, do read part 2 of our blog and check out our BTS video below:

A journey through sand - SAND Co watches (part 2 | Behind the scenes)

"SAND Co is a startup aiming to produce exquisitely unique handmade watches with the following outrageous premise - No two watches identical. As crazy as it sounds, they've actually managed to pull it off, with a unique paint dipping process to create a unique watch every single time, on every single dial." - Part I of A journey through Sand


Right from the beginning and conceptualization of the film, we knew we wanted the film to be as organic, even dreamlike, as possible. Being a 100% handmade watch from beginning to end is a unique selling point few watches are able to claim, and as such, we wanted that to reflect in the video. This called for a organic style of filming, as well as very careful framing and composition. 



Shooting at sunset with the Sony FS5

Shooting at sunset with the Sony FS5

Due to the organic and artisanal nature of the product and film, we opted to shoot the film as minimally as possible. The last thing we wanted was for the video to seem overproduced and sterile, with daylight filling lighting and overly produced camera moves. 

Our primary camera of choice was the amazing Sony FS5, it was a no-brainer, really. We needed a camera which was capable of high speed slow-motion recording, good low light performance and good dynamic range. The FS5 ticked all our boxes. Paired with the FS5 was a collection of Canon 'L' lenses. (16-35, 24-105, 100, 50). 

For camera supports, we utilized Vinten/Manfrotto tripods, a Glidecam HD2000 and Kessler's "Not-So-Pocketable" Pocket Dolly slider. As for lights, well....We decided to use the brightest light available to us - The sun. Natural light, in our opinion, felt the most natural and fitted the mood of the film best. 


Filming of the piece took place over the course of 1 month, due to the busy schedules of both us and the talents, as well as the many setups at difference locations. Logistically, it was a nightmare. Eventually, though, we pulled it off, with picture wrap in the early part of June. 

Filming was very deliberate and considered, even bordering on obsessive, with every single shot repeated to perfection. 

In a way, this was also the first time I really had the opportunity to push the FS5 to its capabilities since upgrading from the 5DMK3. Many shots involved pushing the camera to its limits, especially the low light slow motion shots. I had always known the FS5 was a capable camera, but its performance through this production surprised me thoroughly. Its ability to handle itself in challenging lighting conditions and detail retention in very high contrast situations (such as the sunset scene) was superb. Paired with Canon 'L' lenses, it really was a killer combo for a very reasonable price.

FS5 behind the scenes


Premiere timeline donald ong visuals

The next step after picture wrap is, arguably, where the magic happens. It is where a mess of over 200GB of uncut footage culminates together into one coherent piece. For this, we used Adobe's Premiere Pro CC.

Once the film is put together, it's time for colour correction and grading. This is especially crucial as we shot the entire film in S-LOG, a flat picture profile which maximizes latitude and dynamic range with very flat, dull colours, giving us the most flexibility in post

S-LOG straight out of camera

S-LOG straight out of camera

S-LOG after grading. Way better.

S-LOG after grading. Way better.

Premiere timeline

For the structure of the video, we wanted the first 3 minutes to be an introduction of the brand, with beautiful close up B-roll shots of the watch as well as interviews with the founder, Jun Hong. The last 1 minute of the film is made up of lifestyle shots filmed and edited to resemble a flashback sequence or dream, with dynamic camera moves and time ramps to capture the fleeting nature of a flashback or memory.

With the footage cut together, the audio normalized and the film colour graded, the editing process is concluded.

Stay tuned for part III, where we'll release the final film alongside the official kick-starter campaign release of SAND CO's watches. In the mean time, do watch the behind the scenes video of the filming process below!

EDIT: Part 3 live now!