Shooting the Extreme


Mel Noonan TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online
by Mel Noonan
Issue 112 - April 2016
extreme

Steffan Hewitt started covering extreme sports as a cameraman and learnt to ski backwards while shooting skiers in front of him. Surprisingly he survived, and went on to design and use a lightweight pole with an early SD minicam slung at the top operated via a remote pan and tilt head from the other end. He called it Polecam.

Others saw it and wanted one, so he started to hand-build and sell them. You can buy the latest Polecam today with more than 600 having now been delivered globally. Steffan has never stopped thinking of ways to apply new technology to make Polecam even better, and he still takes every opportunity to go out and shoot with it, whether it be up a mountain, on a small boat in the Arctic, or in an operating theatre conveying what the surgeon is doing to the big screens in the lecture theatre. Any other time he'll be back at base planning and trying new ideas.

In February he was in Austria: "I returned to Kitzbuhel for the World Cup Skiing as part of the LMC Ultra Motion Crew. There were 3 Polecams, one on the start of the infamous 'Streiff', one at the Mousefahller, and one at the even more infamous Hausbergkanter. That was my location, with crampons and a harness and everything locked down with ice pins. Skiers shooting past me at 85kmh, and less than 1m away sometimes made throwing the boom around slightly difficult on the 65 degree slope. Polecam and the Antelope PICO camera on my rig (full HD with 350fps and instant replay) performed amazingly in the extreme conditions from -12 to +5 degrees. After 3 major crashes, all requiring airlifts off the mountain the race was stopped. A tough mountain for everyone!"

Steffan has just launched a new product, Autopod, a remotely operated programmable telescopic elevation unit for use with rigs, cranes, remote heads, cameras, and more. It can be used as a standalone system on stage, in a studio, behind a goal, in a conference venue, or remote location to provide an unobtrusive camera position. Rumour has it that four Autopods will be used on the Adele tour. Info on the Polecam website: polecam.com. extreme

John Gillan didn't start shooting extreme, but does now. He recognised early on how Polecam could elevate a production to the next level and was an early adopter. He's built a successful career using Polecam on all types of programming. If you've ever watched those masterful camera moves on the Royal Chelsea Flower Show gardens, it may well have come from John and his Polecam. His skill is amazing.

He now owns three Polecams, which is extreme in itself, but he's been covering the big car shows globally where companies like Jaguar-Land Rover, Ford and Honda have discovered that Polecam adds class to the press presentations. He is just off to New York with his three rigs for another show where he will operate one and provide experienced operators for the others.

John says: "Polecam has made huge leaps forward in the last few years because Steffan has been pushing to keep ahead of the game and all the new technology. I took up the recent option of using a gimbal stabiliser on my rig- I use the Ronin M, and that allows me to use an HD minicam and Fujinon x17 HD zoom lens on my rig - that's a big heavy lens, unimaginable just a few years ago, not just regarding the size and weight, but also adding a live zoom capability to Polecam moves."

"The Polecam team has done a great job with their zoom demand. They do a few electronic tweaks to the lens, and the zoom demand is designed around it. I think it's brilliant."

The gimbal has helped enormously in his extreme shoots for Red Bull Media, helping to provide broadcast coverage for cliff diving events they hold around the world. He is usually positioned way up at the same height, or sometimes even higher than the dive platform.

"One of the summer events last year was on an island in Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas. I travelled across in a small boat and after unloading there was a 100ft climb on a rugged trail in 100 degree heat. The island was infested with tarantulas and rattle snakes so a keen eye on the ground was essential."

"It can be daunting at first especially if it's windy, and it usually is. I keep a harness on and tie the gear down, not forgetting the cases and bags as they could blow over the edge. It's been useful to learn a few essential Scout rope knots!"

"Setting up on the huge roof of the Opera House in Denmark was difficult as it was lashing down with sleet and gusting with strong winds and the surface was slippery corrugated metal. I was working only about 6 feet from the edge."

"I try to get the moves I want without getting my rig in the other camera shots, and I concentrate on getting a move that really shows the height and danger from the platform, a shot that can only be done with Polecam."

"I bought my first Polecam nearly 20 years ago and operating them is all I do. I have developed my own style that clients seems to want, and think of the Polecam as an extension of my own arms and eyes, a bit like I'm a bird or even a fly buzzing around a subject getting shots that other cameras can't. I think Polecam is set to become even more popular in the future with the new much smaller (and cheaper) cameras on the market that will perfectly suit this lightweight jib."

Polecam will be at NAB Expo in Las Vegas, USA on the Antelope Camera Systems booth #C11133.

extreme

Tags: iss112 | Extreme | Cameras | Polecam | Mel Noonan
Contributing Author Mel Noonan

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 talk high speed on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Polecam talk high speed on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Compact 4k Cameras CE420-CS, CV506 and CV503 from Marshall at NAB 2019

    Compact 4k Cameras CE420-CS, CV506 and CV503 from Marshall at NAB 2019

  • Marshall Electronics Miniature Cameras at NAB 2018

    Marshall Electronics Miniature Cameras at NAB 2018

  • Den Lennie considers what kit and cameras to buy for 2015

    Den Lennie considers what kit and cameras to buy for 2015

  • Sonys new cameras at IBC 2014 - including the FS7

    Sonys new cameras at IBC 2014 - including the FS7

  • JVC at BVE 2015

    JVC at BVE 2015

  • CameraCorps at BVE 2015

    CameraCorps at BVE 2015

  • Sony Camcorders at BVE 2014

    Sony Camcorders at BVE 2014

  • Thear Technology at BVE 2013

    Thear Technology at BVE 2013

  • Vision Research at BVE 2012

    Vision Research at BVE 2012

  • Bradley at IBC2011

    Bradley at IBC2011

  • 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

  • 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
  • KitPlus TV featuring ATOM Cameras, Newtek Tricaster 2 Elite, Alister Chapman choosing a tripod

    KitPlus TV featuring ATOM Cameras, Newtek Tricaster 2 Elite, Alister Chapman choosing a tripod


Articles
Connect A Broadcast-Quality Miniature Camera To Your Computer!
Spencer Doran Upgrade any home working or live streaming setup with a broadcast-quality professional webcam
Tags: webcam | marshall | CV503 | USB | ZOOM | Streaming | Spencer Doran
Contributing Author Spencer Doran Click to read
CLASS Is Remote Cloud Working the New Norm
Bruce Devlin - new The Tuk-tuk driver has just dropped us off at the hotel in Jaipur. The guard has let us through the gates, past the dogs and the obligatory cow rummaging in the garbage. We wash our hands, head for the bar and before the first Kingfisher beer arrives, I am connected to the virtual Mr MXF compute kingdom where a million unread emails, Slack messages, requests for help with broken workflows and rejected files are waiting on a collection of virtual servers somewhere in cloud-land.
Tags: iss142 | mrmxf | mr mxf | covid-19 | remote | gotomeeting | Bruce Devlin - new
Contributing Author Bruce Devlin - new Click to read or download PDF
State of the Nation and Virtual Social Distancing
Dick Hobbs - new Under normal circumstances, I usually make my plans for NAB in November time. It’s when the airlines tend to have sales. This year, for personal reasons, I did not get around to booking back then, and it was only at the end of February that I could start thinking about it.
Tags: iss142 | nab | kitplus show | iabm | darren whitehead | warner media | streaming | Dick Hobbs - new
Contributing Author Dick Hobbs - new Click to read or download PDF
TVFutures My Dive in to Learning
Lucy Crow In 2014 I had my first taste of underwater diving. I was on a family holiday and I happened across the experience of a lifetime. Within the first few minutes of that adventure I had decided that I wanted to be part of the diving world going forward. After countless dives and extensive training to become a scuba diving instructor, I made the decision to attend university. I knew that whatever I was going to study, I wanted it to involve my passion for Scuba.
Tags: iss142 | ccitv | university portsmouth | scuba | go-pro | blue planet | Lucy Crow
Contributing Author Lucy Crow Click to read or download PDF
The Importance of Audio Production Systems
Tom Knowles Large-scale entertainment programming presents a unique set of challenges for broadcasters. Often extremely high-profile keystones of a broadcaster’s schedule and increasingly billed as live ‘event television’, as well as delivering the very best audio quality they demand a huge degree of flexibility and agility in terms of their production. With music being such a core component of their appeal to growing audiences, in both linear broadcast and online, nowhere is that more important than their audio production systems.
Tags: iss142 | ssl | solid state logic | system T | tempest engine | binaural encoder | Tom Knowles
Contributing Author Tom Knowles Click to read or download PDF