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LOCATION where participants appear totally at ease with the production process. For Secret Eaters, Specialist broadcast service provider Minicams installed a range of equipment to record the surreptitious behaviour of the participants. Nick McLachlan, MD of Minicams comments: “It’s an intense programme, with 24- hour in-house multi-camera recording, covert fi lming from cars and studio- based scenes. This means a very quick kit turn-around, no room for technical error and the need for a very wide variety of equipment.” Shooting in secret by Kieron Seth N ow showing on Channel 4 is Endemol’s new and highly popular Secret Eaters series. Based round a fixed rig production, the series uses newly developed mobile fixed rig technology and incorporates a number of recently introduced technical innovations, vital for fast turn- around TV. Secret Eaters is one of a string of current prime time television shows that are made using fi xed rig technology. While the speed of installation and the relatively low cost of the equipment are important factors, the programmes shot by discreetly installed cameras are often very intimate, touching and compelling. The absence of a camera crew, long intrusive lens and microphone has seen the evolution of a new genre of television production 70 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 88 APRIL 2014 One innovation developed for the show was based around Panasonic’s small HE2 camera head. Small and lightweight, the unit has a 95o shooting angle and a small minimum focus distance, making it perfect for placing in tight locations. In the case of Secret Eaters, this meant situating the HE2 at the back of the home owner’s fridge to catch every lapse in maintaining the imposed diet. A motion sensor was used to auto- trigger the camera to record as the door opened. designed to be quick to install and de- rig, enabling the Endemol production team to keep to its exceptionally tight schedule. With 8 contributor houses to rig – each in a matter of hours – the production uses kit that’s built to withstand everyday knocks. The main hot head used was Panasonic’s sturdy HE120 PTZ camera which is built to a very high standard yet is still light enough to be ceiling mounted. “Even so, this kind of fast turn-around job is a potential minefi eld: we’re working in people’s houses so our installation and cabling team has to be very conscious of respecting the properties. The crew constantly has to innovate to work around the idiosyncrasies of every house we work in; it’s a continual challenge.” Ends McLachlan. The results are touching and revealing, with the miniature cameras giving the audience a real insight into the lives – and temptations - of normal members of the public. Critically, the HD experience is undiminished. Set in real domestic environments, Minicams used their new mobile production vehicle, specifi cally designed for very fast set-up fi xed-rig fi lming. The vehicle provides all the functionality of a traditional studio system – in virtually any conceivable location. The portable production unit (PPU) installed in the MPV allowed the producer to monitor each camera, control feeds to the switcher and manage the microphones hidden away into every room. The crew designed automated processes into the PPU in order to ensure audio follows video where appropriate and to route active camera groups to the vision mixer. Crucially, the Minicams PPU MPV newly developed camera fi xings and microphone mounts are Nick McLachlan with the Panasonic HE2