Behind the Lens: Clive Booth Shoots Documentary on Legendary Photographer Don McCullin

©Clive Booth
Behind the Lens: Clive Booth Shoots Documentary on Legendary Photographer Don McCullin
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In the world of photojournalism, Sir Don McCullin is a legend. The famed photographer of the world’s conflicts, who has been on the ground in Africa, Asia, South America and the Middle East, is known for his ability to capture the human story, including the realities of poverty, inequality, and injustice among the world’s least fortunate people.

At 82, he has amassed a voluminous portfolio of striking images—and he shows no sign of slowing down. So when Clive Booth, himself an accomplished photographer, was given the opportunity to capture the man behind the lens, he jumped at the chance. “Don is one of the greatest living photographers of our time,” says Clive. “His work is second to none.”

Clive directed and acted as second camera on the documentary film McCullin in Kolkata, which follows Sir Don in the field, photographing the people of Kolkata, India. For Clive, the project was a culmination of his decades of combined experience as a graphic designer, photographer, and filmmaker for the likes of Canon Europe, H&M, Aston Martin, Louis Vuitton, and MAC Cosmetics, among others.

©Clive Booth

With no set storyboard to follow, Clive and his small team followed Sir Don over several days in the searing heat of India, using Canon equipment to capture him photographing the people of Kolkata. They returned home—Derbyshire for Clive, and London for his producer, Mark George and editor Tristram Edwards—with more than 15 hours of footage to go through. Once Tristram made the first and second selects, Clive left his home and joined him in London to begin the editing process.

“Typically, a 20-minute film takes about 15 days to edit, and that doesn’t include the grading, sound, or visual effects,” says Clive. “I normally rent a hotel room in London for the duration of editing. When you factor in the cost of travel and food, it adds up quickly. With Adobe Team Projects, I was able to go home after only three days and continue collaborating with Tristram and Mark remotely.”

Tristram, working from his London home, would use Team Projects to upload cuts made using Adobe Premiere Pro CC. Within seconds, those cuts would appear on Clive’s computer screen in Derbyshire— roughly 140 miles away—in 4K. The use of proxy files in Premiere Pro meant that Clive could even view 4K files from his mobile phone using a hotspot.

Clive and his team are one of the first to use Adobe Team Projects for a documentary film. “We were skeptical at first because we like to work together in real time,” admits Clive. “We couldn’t believe we could replicate this remotely, until we did. It was like Tristram was sitting in a room right next door to me.”

The two have worked together for more than a decade, and have perfected a collaborative process which Adobe Team Projects helps, rather than hinders.

“I think it’s important to spend a couple of days together at the start of the editing process,” says Clive. “But the fact that I can see what he’s seeing, and work collaboratively in real-time from my own home, is a dream come true.”

Not only did Adobe Team Projects enable Clive to work from the comfort of his home sooner than before, it also eliminated the need to make frequent trips to post-production houses: he simply shared the Premiere Pro folder in Adobe Creative Cloud. Access to real-time files also simplified the workflow for post-production staff.

McCullin in Kolkata made its debut at the 2017 Camerimage Film Festival in Poland. “Capturing Don behind the camera is seeing him in his natural environment,” says Clive. “We are very fortunate to have been able to film him in his element in one of his favorite cities, and are very proud of the film.”

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