If Yan Can Cook, We Can Film: Videography With Celebrity Chef Martin Yan

Master Chef Martin Yan- lighting quick in the kitchen, with a sharp wit and tremendously entertaining.

Master Chef Martin Yan- lighting quick in the kitchen, with a sharp wit and tremendously entertaining.

Back in the 80s I used to watch ‘Wok With Yan’ where Chef Martin Yan entertained a live studio audience with his humour and wit as he cooked up dish after dish of Asian recipes. Last week, we finally got to film him.


This video was shot in High Definition but due to its 25 minutes length, we decided to upload it in 16:9 Standard Definition. If you are a prospective client, kindly contact us to view this in HD.

True Passion- Martin Yan, is AFC’s (Asian Food Channel) recent production and features Chef Yan’s latest adventure: pairing his authentic delectable Asian cuisines with Australia’s largest wine brand, Jacob’s Creek.

The awesome Sony FS100 with great low light performance and a large Super 35mm sensor.

The awesome Sony FS100 with great low light performance and a large Super 35mm sensor.

We were engaged by Pernod Ricard to film Chef Yan’s cooking demonstration. This will be a live High Definition multi-camera production. We decided to use video cameras. We chose the recently launched Sony FS100 and an older Sony FX1000. We used a Videonics MX-1 video switcher to cut between both cameras. It came equipped with 2 monitors and a T-bar for variable speed transitions.

Videographer Eddy with the Sony FX1000 for medium-wide shots. Attached is the DN60 CF card recorder.

Videographer Eddy with the Sony FX1000 for medium-wide shots. Attached is the DN60 CF card recorder.

Our client also wanted another camera to cover insert shots like room deco, quests arrival and close-ups of the food amongst others. This is definitely a job for a HDSLR and we used the Canon EOS 7D with RedRock Micro follow focus.

Before the event starts, Baron frames and records relevant and pretty scenes for our editors in the studio.

Before the event starts, Baron frames and records relevant and pretty scenes for our editors in the studio.

Right off the bat we knew HDSLRs are a no go for live video feed for obvious reasons:

  1. Top of the list is the big white reference rectangle that appears right in the middle of the screen. Too distracting for audiences.
  2. They have a 12 minute recording limit for each clip. Although we can overcome this by quickly pressing the record button again, we chose not to go through with it.
  3. Overheating- this is a classic and very perplexing issue with HDSLR cinematography. We know that a 5D Mk II or 7D will overheat after about 10 minutes of non-stop filming. We didn’t want to play with fire!
Compact but serious switching. The Videonics MX-1 video mixer lets us transition between multiple cameras.

Compact but serious switching. The Videonics MX-1 video mixer lets us transition between multiple cameras.

So, we decided to use video cameras for the Live Video Feed. It has been a classic choice (and still is) for Live Feed. The benefits of using video cameras are:

  1. Quick adjustments for Iris, Shutter and White Balance.
  2. Ultra smooth zooms or power zooms.
  3. Easy access to audio level controls which brings us to…
  4. On-board shotgun mic that records great quality video.
  5. Comes with RCA/BNC connectors to hook up with projectors.
Pureen and Phoon monitor video feeds from each camera and broadcast the final video to the audience.

Pureen and Phoon monitor video feeds from each camera and broadcast the final video to the audience.

I want to single out one very important feature available on video cameras: Autofocus. This feature alone helped tremendously in filming a live event like this. Our videographer, Ma Chiau Ran, was designated to be main camera A. He was way up front on the stage filming close-ups of Chef Yan’s demo. Chef Yan, being Chef Yan with decades of experience, wowed the audience with his lightning fast slicing and dicing.

FS100 comes with RCA connection which is an overlooked feature of video cameras that is crucial for live feed.

FS100 comes with RCA connection which is an overlooked feature of video cameras that is crucial for live feed.

Off and on Chef Yan would also interact with the camera. This put Chiau Ran’s skills to the test. He had to be have quick reflexes and there was hardly time to worry about anything else. Camera B was the FX1000 and would capture an seamless medium wide shot of Chef Yan.

Cinematographer Baron grabbing insert shots with Canon 7D and Red Rock Micro follow focus for steady, rapid focusing.

Cinematographer Baron grabbing insert shots with Canon 7D and Red Rock Micro follow focus for steady, rapid focusing.

Chiau Ran chose to use the Autofocus on the FS100. On stage, the lighting wasn’t as bright as we’d like it to be but the FS100′s autofocus held its own. Given the camera’s large Super 35mm sensor, the autofocus was quick and accurate, as evident in the video. There were many times Chiau Ran had to execute quick zooms and this put the autofocus to the test but compared to many other cameras, the FS100 was very quick to refocus.

The calm before the storm. Chiau Ran is all set as Chef Yan goes through his checklist in the background.

The calm before the storm. Chiau Ran is all set as Chef Yan goes through his checklist in the background.

In the audio recording department, the FS100 also performed very well. Audio was set on Auto mode. The FS100 did not prematurely lower or increase the audio levels. So, in the editing process, we we happy to discover that although Chef Yan suddenly raised or lower his voice, the audio satisfactorily held its levels.

Cinematographer Chiau Ran providing live video feed for Chef Martin Yan's cooking demonstration

Cinematographer Chiau Ran providing live video feed for Chef Martin Yan's cooking demonstration

We used the Datavideo DN60 Compact Flash Recorder with the FX1000. The DN60 complemented the FX1000. Instead of recording to tape, we were using the more readily available CF cards. The DN60 works with both SD and HDV signals through a firewire (Sony’s iLink) cable.

By now Chiau Ran has familirized himself with Chef Martin Yan's fast and impromptu style.

By now Chiau Ran has familirized himself with Chef Martin Yan's fast and impromptu style.

The video was edited with Edius 6. The Multicam Mode in Edius 6 provides a hassle-free and fun way to splice footage from both cameras. It was almost like working on a video switcher- 2 smaller screens for each camera and 1 larger screen for the Master.

Edius 6 stylish and efficient interface. Shown here is the Multicam mode, capable of displaying 16 cameras.

Edius 6 stylish and efficient interface. Shown here is the Multicam mode, capable of displaying 16 cameras.

Edius read all 3 camera formats without the need to transcode (convert) to a common format. Everything played back smoothly and workflow was fast… as usual!

This production is a classic example of how multiple brands worked in harmony to produce the film for our client, Jacob’s Creek and Pernod Ricard.

Baron with Chef Martin Yan. The cinematographer with his favourite chef. Photo courtesy of William Loh Photography

Baron with Chef Martin Yan. The cinematographer with his favourite chef. Photo courtesy of William Loh Photography

This is an auspicious project. 2 decades ago I was a boy watching Chef Yan impressing his audience a few continents away, today I eventually I got to film the legend himself!

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About Baron

Film Director, Certified Steadicam Operator, Authorized Glidecam Trainer, Sony Pro Trainer, Apple Certified Pro (Final Cut Pro), Grass Valley Authorised Trainer (Edius), Part-time Lecturer (Saito College)
This entry was posted in Canon EOS 7D, corporate events, DataVideo, DSLR Film Making, DSLR vs Video Camera, Event Video, Film Making, HDSLR Film Making, High Definition, Pernod Ricard, RedRock Micro, Sony, Video Cameras, Video Editing, Video Equipment, Video Gear, Video Production, Videography, Videonics, wolfang digital and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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