TV-BAY December 2012
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TV-BAY Questions... Stefan Otto, freelance cameraman and Polecam owner operator using only DSLR cameras with his Polecam Starter Pack rig How did you get into the Broadcast Industry? I was born and grew up in in Guernsey in the Channel Islands. I was trained on camera work by one of the first TV camera women, Rosemary Henry at Channel Television – she’d been there 30 years when I started in the early 90s. I started as work experience while still at school. Eventually I moved to the UK, to Fountain Television. I trained as a studio sparks and lighting operator. After a while I returned to the Channel Islands and was offered a job at Channel TV. I trained further as a cameraman there several years, along with editing, lighting, sound - the whole works really because they were a small team. I did everything. You pick up all sorts of skills. You’re news editing at half past 5 at night and you know you’ve got to get something out in half an hour. That is a pretty steep learning curve. When did you become a freelance cameraman? Back in the UK in ’98 I joined Meridian Television initially as a technician, then as cameraman and VT editor for a while, then back out as cameraman, finally going freelance in 2000 with my own gear. I continued doing some camera work for Meridian but was gradually picking up clients too. I have bought a PMW-500 which I use on most of my shoots. When did you become aware of Polecam? At Goodwood Festival of Speed around 2004 – I saw this camera on a pole right over the top of the road on a tight bend. I didn’t see it as something I was going to get – it looked to be a big investment. I was concentrating on what my main rig was going to be, looking at Digi Beta, but in the end I just kept hiring as required. I saw another Polecam on triathlon events I was covering in the Lake District, with a Toshiba minicam on the pole. I was impressed with how quickly it was rigged, and the kind of shots they were getting with it – it certainly made an impact on me. Then last year, I noticed that the Polecam DSLR rig was available, and coincidentally there were plenty of colleagues and others I knew buying DSLR cameras. I didn’t have one and I didn’t have a selection of lenses like many do. I noticed that DSLR cameras were becoming very popular for the video aspect, and if Polecam was going to the trouble of designing a DSLR head, they must have thought that these cameras are significant too. Also I was going on shoots and noticing people using DSLRs, usually the researcher or the assistant producer were picking up cutaway shots etc – on programmes like Watchdog, Coast, Gardener’s World. So you made a decision to buy a rig? I thought if DSLRs are becoming so popular I’ll capitalise on it, and get a Polecam rig – the Starter Pack. Money was limited - I do corporate work too and I’d already invested in a full HD edit suite which cost me around £10,000 to provide a whole package to clients. I went to Creative Video, had a go with Polecam and thought ‘This is fantastic – I’m going to invest in it’ - I bought it there and then. What sold it for me too – was a video on YouTube, one guy rigging a Jimmy Jib and the other guy rigging a Polecam – this is a great way of 36 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE TV-BAY072DEC12.indd 36 07/12/2012 15:14