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Quick Chat: Wildlife DP Andy Casagrande

Andy Brandy Casagrande IV, (a.k.a., ABC4) is a two-time Emmy Award-winning cinematographer, field producer and television presenter who specializes in wildlife documentaries.

From king cobras and killer whales to great whites sharks and polar bears, Casagrande’s cinematography and unorthodox camera techniques — including super-high-speed, super-slow-motion and thermal-infrared to night vision and remote-controlled spy cams — are meant to offer viewers a different perspective of wildlife.

With more than 100 wildlife films credits to his name, Casagrande (@abc4explore) has shot and produced films for National Geographic, BBC, Discovery, ABC, NBC, CBS, Animal Planet, and many others.

Let’s find out more…Great HammerHead Shark USE

What was your last project?
I was filming an adventure/science documentary for Shark Week called Jungle Sharks, which is about the intricate and mysterious interactions between the bull sharks and American crocodiles that co-exist in the jungles and rivers of Costa Rica. It was an amazing project and we captured some fascinating, never-before-seen footage and data of these two apex predators surviving and competing together in the wild!

What is your kit made up of?
I am a bit of a camera junky! The three things I love most in life are family, sharks and cameras!  I own and operate a variety of cameras, but my primary go-to camera for Shark Week was the Red Dragon 6K digital cinema camera system. It shoots slow-motion/high-speed images in super-high-resolution — 6K!

I love this camera and it has allowed me to bring Hollywood-quality digital cinema to my documentary/wildlife films. When I’m shooting underwater, I keep my Red Dragon safe and dry in my Gates underwater housings, which are bulletproof and shark-proof!  I’m also a big fan of using GoPro cameras to capture unique/crazy angles that have not been possible previously.

For super-super-slow motion, I use my Phantom Flex 4K digital camera system, which allows me to shoot 1,000fps in Ultra High Definition.

more underwater How do you choose the right kit for each project?
I do my research before each film project to make sure I’m using the right tools for the job.  But to be honest, I often have everything with me in the field — my entire arsenal for air, land and sea — because you really never know what/when/where/how/why something will happen when it comes to wildlife. So I never leave home without my 4K aerial drones system, 4K tow-camera system, 4K SharkFinCam system, 6K Red Dragon camera system, 4K Phantom Flex camera system and, of course, as many 4K GoPros as I can carry!

What are some of your favorite past projects?
Some of my favorite, and most interesting, projects have been for the BBC’s “Shark” series, which I was honored to be part of.  I was asked to film Great White sharks hunting in Mexico and South Africa. We had amazing equipment for this project, including helicopters with gyro-stabilized camera systems, 6K Red Dragons, SharkFinCam systems, rebreathers, night-vision, thermal imagery… the list goes on and on!

Can you offer up some tips for our readers?
Live the Life You Dream: With hard work, determination and genuine passion, anyone can accomplish anything they set their mind to.

Be Nice to Strangers, Just Be Good and Respect Nature: Karma is a big part of my life, and I strongly believe that you get what you give, so it’s always in your best interest to be as good as you can in all aspects of life. Be kind and helpful to people — even if they are strangers — and always respect wildlife.

Work Hard and Work Smart: There is no substitute for hard work! If you want something done right, get out there and do it on your own. Don’t stop working until the job is done. Along with working hard, try to think about the bigger picture and work smart! There is almost always more than one way to accomplish what you are trying to do; if you get stuck, think of alternatives that will make your life easier and more efficient.

Think Outside the Box: One thing I’ve learned about working as a wildlife filmmaker is that innovation is invaluable, and if you can come up with new and unique ways to capture wildlife behavior and document the natural world, then you are bound to discover and film never-before-seen events that will help the planet gain a deeper understanding and respect for the wildlife kingdom.

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