Supporting the RED


James Cullen was working as a studio cameraman for the BBC when he was asked by television quiz show favourite CJ de Mooi to shoot a promo for him. The brief was to showcase CJ’s enthusiasm for the Porsche 911 Carrera, and Cullen knew that the production standards had to match the engineering excellence of the car.
“I was using a RED One camera which shoots at up to 4k resolution,” he said. “This was essentially a broadcast HD project, but the extra resolution gave us a little more flexibility in post.”
The promo was shot in a day on the trackside road at Kempton Park racecourse near London. To get it all in the can on time it was vital that no time was lost in setting up, particularly as a number of lenses were needed, for close-ups, pieces to camera and long shots of the speeding car.
To eliminate one source of delays, Cullen selected a tripod and Vision 250 head from Vinten. “When it comes to actual camera operation, it is all about the pan and tilt head,” he said. “You need the camera mounted on a head that can be adjusted quickly and accurately as different accessories are loaded onto the camera for different set-ups.”
The unique quality of the Vinten Vision head, which makes it ideally suited for production, is the concept of perfect balance. This is an infinitely adjustable counter-balance system which means that, once set, the camera will remain in equilibrium whatever the angle of tilt – it remains in perfect balance.
“It gives you confidence because you know the camera will not bounce or droop at the end of a move,” Cullen explained. “Smooth and stable movement is essential to a professional look, and with the Vinten head you can focus on getting the right shot“It is also very fast to adjust,” he continued. “You add or remove something from the camera, or you want to change your own operating posture so you move the viewfinder, and resetting the balance is very quick. I find myself doing it frequently, almost instinctively.”
Given the modular nature of the RED camera, this ability to reset the balance on the head, quickly and accurately, is very important.
The balance is not the only operator setting on the head that is simple, instinctive and quick. Cullen also found himself using the continuously variable pan and tilt drag settings as he changed lenses. “I wanted more friction when using a long lens, and the Vinten variable drag is really good: precise to set and very quick to adjust. This was my first job as a director as well as operating the camera, and I knew we had a lot to get through. Balance and drag are important settings you need to be able to do in seconds.”
In conclusion, James Cullen underlined that, while a tripod and head might seem like an unsung hero in the creative production kit list, getting the right tool for the job is vital. “As an operator, you need to be sure you can move the camera the way you want to and position it where you need it, confident that it is going to be perfectly stable.
“The Vinten Vision 250 did just that: it is simple and very fast to adjust, predictable in operation and rugged in handling.”
James Cullen is now setting up a new specialist shooting and production company, in-vision.tv, with fellow ex-BBC cameraman Phil Carr.

Tags: bbc | red | red camera | iss034 | N/A
Contributing Author N/A

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