Production Profile with Polecam


What brings an innocent young Swede into the competitive high-adrenalin business of television production? In my case, it all began at school. I developed an early fascination for photography and created slide shows that were presented as end-of-semester happenings to my fellow students. Unlike television, you can actually watch a live slide-show audience. My productions were received with appreciation.
In the mid 1980s, one of my former teachers started a video production company. I started to work for him while still attending school and subsequently doing military service, something we had to do here back then. We produced films for companies, schools and various organisations.
Scuba diving is something that has interested me for a long time. As soon as I had gained my licence, I began taking underwater photographers and video.
When commercial television became established in Sweden during the 1990s, I was approached by a company called MTV (Mobile Television) which had won a contract to produce a game show for TV3. My task was to handle lighting for the first 140 Wheel of Fortune shows in Sweden.
TV3 gave more contracts to MTV and we built a studio in Jonsered, outside Gothenburg. I was employed for three years and worked like a madman, doing 200 to 300 hours a month.
During that time I got into all kinds of stuff. The company was growing and personnel were needed for all kinds of duties. I became studio manager and studio photographer at the same time. When a new production came in, I would be building studio sets and sometimes I was out on the field doing ENG productions.
New techniques were tried and different camera support devices tested. MTV bought a Jimmy Jib crane which gave me a lot of experience on game-shows, commercials, drama and newsgathering. I also trained as a Steadicam operator and did a few productions but I found that jibs were more my kind of thing.
After a busy spring and summer of 1993 with MTV, I decided to try develop my own freelance business. I visited the various production companies around Sweden and was soon working on various projects in and around Stockholm, with cranes, in studios and outside, ENG and OB.
Between studio and ENG productions, I travelled a great deal for sports events such as football and hockey. In 1995, Canal Plus started its Swedish operation and took up all the available freelancers, including me.
Enter Polecam
In late 1999, Johan Bernhagen, a producer at Canal Plus, told me a guy from Polecam was coming to Stockholm to demonstrate a revolutionary new mini jib. I attended the demo, tried the rig and we in turn demonstrated it to the other producers. They were rather hesitant about the quality of the camera. Then Polecam's Swedish dealer, Hoffman, told me they had one for demo. I took a test there and ordered one the same day.
My first Polecam job was for Red Bull, shooting home-made airplanes going into and (in most cases) coming back out of the water in the centre of Stockholm. The Polecam jib proved itself able to deliver pictures that simply could not be taken with any other camera support system.
In mid November 2000 I used the Polecam to cover the Cross-Country Skiing World Cup in Kiruna. At that time of year, daylight is available for just 20 minutes. The temperature was minus 20 Celsius and I was running on batteries. I had the rig running for four hours and only had to change batteries once.
The quality achieved the Polecam system at Kiruna impressed the producer and I was asked to cover the Alpine World Cup in re the following spring. This was a very special job. The distances involved were very long and we could not use a link. I took a trip to Top Teks near Heathrow. They helped me tune up my Camplex link and I bought the thickest cable that I still could carry and handle. This gave me a range of 1.3 kilometres.
Weather conditions were extreme and we had to move the camera position several times at very short notice. In 15 minutes I had moved 400 metres down as alpine course, skiing with the Polecam in the harness, preparing to shoot and connecting to the OB truck.
Swedist Television's sport producers has been eager to try the Polecam. Bo Lindqvist and Per Theorell wanted to try it in many sports such as hockey, basketball, freestyle skiing, figure-skating, dancing and horse jumping.
'The Mole' was an ENG production for TV5 made in 2000. I was using the Polecam with a Betacam SP recorder. The opening scene needed to show show participants descending via a rope from an 85 metre high shipping crane. My task was to televise them going over a fence and down: a breathtaking sequence that could not be captured with any other type of camera rig.
Nature film producer Kurt Skoog asked if it was possible to use Polecam to produce underwater pictures. I asked Polecam founder/MD Steffan Hewitt if he had a solution and he sold me a prototype FishFace that had been used at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. The resultant programme won at least one film festival prize and we did more productions together.
Norwegian state television (NRK) had seen what we had done with alpine and cross-country skiing in Sweden and wanted to try Polecam.
I went there to some demonstrate the system for various sports. The result was that NRK bought three Polecam rigs.
In 2006 Sweden hosted the European Athletics Championships in Gothenburg. I was asked to provide two Polecams, one for use on the field and one in the SVT studio. I decided to buy my second rig. Using the Polecam on the field via a link and full remote and using the other one manually with a direct cable feed worked very well.
HD opens new doors
The following year, SVT asked me if I could deliver an HD signal to the 2008 World Figure-Skating Championships. I went to England and talked to Steffan, then bought a Toshiba IK-HD1 HD camera and fibre-optic link. The SD camera (Toshiba IK-TU61/63) was sold to a Polecam operator in Germany who needed one for 625-line productions.
HD had now entered my Polecam and had open new doors. Commercials producers become interested.
During the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, I despatched a Polecam with a new FishFace underwater camera housing to cover marathon swimming and the kayak slalom. Peter Frick, a Stockholm-based cameraman, operated the system because I was already booked as a Polecam operator for the athletics in the Beijing National Stadium (the 'Birds Nest').
First 3D shoot
In spring of 2010, a Gothenburg-based 3D production house called Resq asked me to do a 3D shoot for a medical company. This turned out well and we did Sweden's first ever live multicamera 3D transmission. This covered a hip operation and was relayed to an audience of 50 doctors.
In recent years the main driver for our Polecam work has been commercials, sports and the unusual: subjects that cannot be captured with ordinary camera support systems. This spring I was called in to work on a show in a studio that was too small to accommodate a crane. We provided almost the same pictures as a crane but the difference was that we got closer, worked faster and were able to get in closer.
This spring I have been busy with the Polecam covering football in Norway and filming both under and over water in a new nature reserve, the first of its kind in Scandinavia. We used Polecam to capture the detail of rock formations. For the underwater shots, I scuba-dived with a Canon 7D camera.
This summer we worked on the Swedish version of Gladiators using Polecam with a FishFace since there was a big pool that the participants could (and duly did) fall into. The pictures were unique. Using the rig both under and over water increased the feeling of presence and could not be taken in any other way.
My Polecam system is almost the same today as it was 12 years ago apart from a new fourth-generation camera and a new monitor. It has taken me places where I never could have gone with a crane or any other camera.

Tags: iss056 | polecam | mtv | swedeish production | N/A
Contributing Author N/A

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

Related Interviews
  • Polecam at IBC 2016

    Polecam at IBC 2016

  • Guided Tour of the Polecam Stand at BVE 2016

    Guided Tour of the Polecam Stand at BVE 2016

  • Polecam at IBC 2015

    Polecam at IBC 2015

  • Polecam Antelope Pico at IBC 2014

    Polecam Antelope Pico at IBC 2014

  • Polecam presents award to AMS Pictures at NAB 2014

    Polecam presents award to AMS Pictures at NAB 2014

  • Polecam Toshiba Minicams at BVE 2014

    Polecam Toshiba Minicams at BVE 2014

  • Polecam Slow Motion Minicams at BVE 2014

    Polecam Slow Motion Minicams at BVE 2014

  • Polecam talk accessories on BroadcastShow LIVE 2013

    Polecam talk accessories on BroadcastShow LIVE 2013

  • Polecam talk high speed on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Polecam talk high speed on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Polecams range of accessories and minicams at IBC 2013

    Polecams range of accessories and minicams at IBC 2013

  • Polecam: Z10 zoom lens at NAB 2013

    Polecam: Z10 zoom lens at NAB 2013

  • Polecam at BVE 2013

    Polecam at BVE 2013

  • Polecam at BVE North 2012

    Polecam at BVE North 2012

  • Polecam at IBC 2012

    Polecam at IBC 2012

  • Polecam at NAB 2012

    Polecam at NAB 2012

  • Polecam at BVE 2012

    Polecam at BVE 2012

  • Polecam at BVE North 2011

    Polecam at BVE North 2011

  • Polecam at IBC2011

    Polecam at IBC2011

  • Kit Overview from IBC 2015

    Kit Overview from IBC 2015

  • Steffan does the Surf Forecast

    Steffan does the Surf Forecast


Related Shows
  • Polecam Minicam Show: BVE Day 1

    Polecam Minicam Show: BVE Day 1


Articles
Using Wireless Transmission
Jeremy Benning Wireless acquisition is a staple of live sports, entertainment and reality shows where cable free capture permits shots not previously possible, for health and safety reasons, and gives the camera-operator greater artistic licence to roam. The same is increasingly true of narrative drama where cinematographers are keen to work handheld or Steadicam where that helps tell the story. Any equipment which frees their movement and time by being lighter, easier to use and reliable in performance is going to tick a lot of boxes.
Tags: iss134 | wireless | 4k | transmission | Jeremy Benning
Contributing Author Jeremy Benning Click to read or download PDF
An Epiphany Moment
Peter Savage 2 I had been negotiating the sale of my company and had reached the really hard end of the bargain. We were close to agreeing the final sum after a lot of too-much-give-and-not-enough-take negotiation. The solicitors were calling me, keen for a deal. It had come down to one sticking point and, in my hard ball “I am the Wolf of Wall Street” guise, I wasn’t going to let it go. It would make a value difference of 1.5% on the total outcome. Not much, you might think, but I had already nearly fallen out with the solicitors over their fees and I was giving my advisors an extremely hard time because the corporate adviser couldn’t see how I had already given more than an inch and the buyers were taking more than a mile. I was not going to let them win.
Tags: iss134 | azule | finance | Peter Savage 2
Contributing Author Peter Savage 2 Click to read or download PDF
Accelerated Workflows with eGPU
Mike Griggs From the UK’s National Trust to magazine publishers to manufacturers, digital content creator Mike Griggs has a wide and varied portfolio of clients for whom he creates 3D art, motion graphics and multimedia exhibits. A typical day might involve sampling birdsong near Virginia Woolf’s country estate or creating 3D animations for VR. To keep on top of these demands, Griggs wanted to take the full power of the GPU computing revolution on the road.
Tags: iss134 | sonnet | egpu | amd | post production | editing | Mike Griggs
Contributing Author Mike Griggs Click to read or download PDF
University and Mental Health
Rhiannon Jenkins University study and mental health has been in the media quite a bit over the last year, and I’m sure there are many people wondering what is going on? The issues are complex, and I suppose the focus of employability off the back of a degree course has raised the stress stakes for a lot of young people. I’m only qualified to talk about this from my perspective, and my story began when I joined a course not knowing I had a mental health condition.
Tags: iss134 | portsmouth uni | mental health | student | tvfutures | Rhiannon Jenkins
Contributing Author Rhiannon Jenkins Click to read or download PDF
Protecting the continuity of transmission
Lorna Garrett Your viewers love you. You consistently bring them their preferred channels 24/7. They’ve come to rely on you for their viewing pleasure. They never miss cheering on their beloved sports teams. They’re the envy of their friends as they watch live concerts of their favourite bands. They gather the family around and catch up on their must-see shows. They don’t have a bad word to say about you.
Tags: iss134 | garland | gpl | streaming | artel | disaster recovery | Lorna Garrett
Contributing Author Lorna Garrett Click to read or download PDF