May marks the end of our 4 year lease on our VW Transporter van. Having clocked up 82,000 miles in four years – that’s an average of over 20,000 miles per year – with not a single breakdown or fault, it’s a great testament to a reliable workhorse, and I’ll be sad to see her go!
Later this year we will be bringing in a new primary work vehicle, with many more options for our work profile – and full details will follow in due course. Expect plenty of Steadicam and Jib modifications…
Recently I’ve been working on Feature Film ‘Bypass’ for Third Films, currently shooting on locations in the Newcastle, Gateshead and Durham areas. Steadicam dailies have included numerous tracking sequences in regular and low mode. Most recently, a full day of Vehicle Mount work was completed, again in both regular and low mode.
For the duration, we were mounted to the Quad Bike using our Vehicle / Hard Mount Plate. We achieved some great tracking shots of the talent riding a bicycle, for particular scenes of the film.
But it’s never all good news and plain sailing in the world of Steadicam. The Steadicam arm is often subject to heavy loads and stress – typically carrying a payload of around 75kg per day, so it’s important to inspect and service it regularly. Over the course of my career, I’ve done a lot of hard mount work, including working from Quads, Trucks, Segway and the FlyKa system.
At the end of this shoot, after an intensive day of hard mount work, a large speed bump which we had not travelled over previously, at too high a speed on a gradient was negotiated by the Quad Bike, and the arm bottomed out – causing a spring and pulley cables to shatter, inflicting damage such as cracked elbow and bent adjuster screw as well. Fortunately, rain covers were on the arm at the time, which caught the numerous flying objects as they shot out at speed on impact.
We always use wire safety bonds and ratchet straps for extra security when hard mounting, to protect both rig and operator. Also, precautions such as backing off the arm tension, and use of a four-point harness for the Operator mean that it’s all undertaken as carefully as possible, to minimise risk to equipment and operator. In this instance, these precautions, and a strong set of arms on my part (!) meant that disaster was averted when the worst happened.
On 29th April, I turned 30, so at the weekend, we all enjoyed my 30th birthday with a great party and plenty of friends. One of the highlights was a very special birthday cake…looks a bit familiar to me…
Sony XDCAM HD For Sale: [Listing on behalf of a client - contact details below]
Sony F300K XDCAM for sale.
Serial number 10419.
1 careful owner.
Comes with top mic, viewfinder (model DXF-801) and lens (model VCL-719 BXS)
2872 hours of operation.
Camera and lens due a service.
Sold as seen.
Comes with manual and device driver CD and strap.
And can supply with 20 XDCAM discs worth around £300.
Price £2500 + VAT
Steadicam Flyer LE For Sale [Listing on behalf of a client - contact details below]
Steadicam Flyer LE 24 Sled, with gimbal, extendable post and dual battery plate (12v / 24v switchable), 7″ TFT LCD Monitor c/w Remote
Steadicam Flyer LE Arm (Black) c/w cloth arm bag
Steadicam Flyer LE Vest
Dovetail Plate c/w 3/8″ & 1/4″ Camera Mounting Screws
2 x Docking Bracket
1 x SteadiStand V1 c/w cloth bag
1 x Steadicam Flyer Shipping Bag
1 x Wheeled Dolly for Shipping Bag
1 x 12v XLR-4 power cable
1 x BNC video cable
A nice kit, formerly owned by Steadi Facilities Ltd and operated exclusively by Jason Torbitt and Jonathan Galione. Sold to our client last year, who have now completed their work with it, and are looking to find a good home for the kit.
In March we travelled upto Glasgow’s Hampden Park, for BBC Scotland’s Sportscene Live OB coverage of the Scottish Communities Cup Final. Focus Pulling for me was Paul Warsaw, who also works with me for our Jimmy Jib and RF Links work.
Despite heavy rain at times, it was a brilliant game, ending St. Mirren 3-2 Hearts – marking St. Mirren’s first trophy win in more than a quarter of a century!
We covered, as usual, pre-match segments, teams out, match coverage, post match celebrations, flash interviews and trophy lift.
In February we were north of Nottingham, at National Grid’s Training Centre in Eakring. Shooting on XDCAM HD, we supplied our Jimmy Jib camera crane (18ft) for multiple outdoor GVs for an internal video. With three seperate rigs and derigs, it was a busy day, and we achieved a mixture of sequences, ranging from beauty shots and GVs, to ‘walk and talk’ segments.
For 2013, in addition to my regular Camera, Steadicam and Jib operating work, our company is organising its equipment and facilities into three areas:
- Jimmy Jib
- RF Links
We are developing our equipment inventory to offer full facilities with all accessories for Television, Film and Live Events in all three of these areas. Together with this, we are redeveloping the website with a new image to organise our credits, equipment lists and services we offer, so that with one click, all the info for each of our service areas is available on one page. Our new look image will be on its way soon.
In February we were at Parc Eirias Stadium in Colwyn Bay, for BBC Cymru’s coverage of the start of the 6Nations rugby season, with Wales U20 v. Ireland U20.
We supplied our Jimmy Jib, built to 18ft, with the more friendly extension arm sections, to allow wind to pass through the arm, rather than be met entirely by the surface area of the arm. Even so, with gale force gusts at times, bitterly cold and with torrential rain at times, it was not an OB for the faint hearted!
Our coverage included teams out, and beauty shots for pre and post match, plus for graphics inserts, and match coverage of penalty kicks and touchline replays.
November 2012 saw one of the highest profile jobs of the year, when we had the honour of working on the Rolling Stones 50th Anniversary Tour. We provided our 24ft Jimmy Jib camera crane and 2-man crew.
With 1 test day, 4 rehearsal days and 2 show days, it was an intense period for all show crew. The stage itself was 10ft tall, and with our Jib base being on ground level, without any decking or riser, we had to devise a plan to actually see the movement of the artists. So, we opened our Video Assist box, which sees little use due to the diminishing role of film cameras. We used our old Sony XC-77 Arri Video Tap camera, on a magic arm, clamped to give us an overview of the stage. At the Jib base, we had our iso camera monitor, a TX monitor, and a third monitor with the feed from the mini.
With a horseshoe-shaped walkway over and across the crowds of people, some 13,000 per show, we provided sweeping and tight detail shots of the action for LED and projection screens, and for media release – the footage was shown by BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky News. Mick Jagger, Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards all did their part and played to our camera.
The Rolling Stones are an iconic band and the atmosphere at the O2, together with the rock and roll music the band produced, was something I’ll remember for a long time.
2012 was the third year we have covered the British Military Tournament, and we will be working on the event until at least 2014. Steadi Facilities provides Steadicam Operator and Rig, HD-SDI RF Link, and RF Telemetry with Assistant/RF Technician.
This year, we racked our camera at the Steadicam docking stand, where we set up a control area. With a whole arena floor to cover, two docking stands are used, one at each end. Our stand just below Production Control area and the PPU is our main base. From our RF receiver, high in the stands, we ran a HD-SDI DA, to split feeds to the Vision Mixer and our 17″ HD-SDI Engineering Monitor. At our base, we racked our RF camera using the scopes on our monitor, where we could also charge Steadicam sled batteries.
On the Steadicam sled, camera, RF TX, and monitor are all powered from sled batteries, and zoom/focus is controlled onboard at the gimbal (in previous years we’ve done Remote Follow Focus, but we’ve reverted to our usual Live Events rig – due to speed, horses, and quick shot changes, it’s easier to have a dedicated spotter than a Focus Puller)
The Steadicam work itself is tough and demanding, but hugely enjoyable. With 3 x 10 hour rehearsal days for blocking, and 2 x show days, with two shows per day, it’s a demanding schedule which involves wearing the rig for 1.5 hour durations apiece – on show days alone, that’s 6 hours of wearing the rig, and there’s a lot of running and tracking of marching bands to do. But, it’s hugely enjoyable and a pleasure to be a part of -we’re looking forward to December already!