A Skqattro tracking pedestal from The Camera Store (a Vitec Group company) followed the action during a National Theatre Live broadcast of Alan Bennett's new play, People, for cinema audiences around the world which took place on 21 March. Frances de la Tour plays Dorothy, joined by Selina Cadell and Linda Bassett.
National Theatre Live broadcasts of live productions to cinemas commenced in June 2009 with a production of Phedre, screened live in 70 cinemas across the UK. Today, National Theatre Live productions are broadcast to over 600 venues in over 25 countries around the world.
"It all worked brilliantly," comments Robin Lough, camera director for the live broadcast of People, "not least because I had an excellent camera team alongside me and also because, once again, we had chosen to use a tracking camera mounted on a TCS Skquattro dolly near the front of the stalls.
"National Theatre Live has now been going since 2009 when we first used equipment TCS designed specifically for us, on Phedre with Helen Mirren. Since then, over the 11 broadcasts I have directed at the National Theatre, we have regularly used TCS-developed camera mounts not only for the very particular demands of the Lyttelton and Olivier theatres but also for the special requirements involved in filming live theatre.
"The Skquattro provides the kind of fluidity and movement to the shots that gives the whole presentation a cinematic quality which is what distinguishes National Theatre Live. This was particularly evident on People where the use of just a single tracking camera made all the difference. The stage production was beautiful, elegant and often quite deliberately static, and it was all very effective in the theatre. But we needed to bring our own subtlety of movement to the big screen and this is where the TCS equipment, in the hands of two of the best operators in the business, really came into its own."
Developed by TCS from the Vinten Quattro pedestal, the Skquattro gives camera operators and directors the opportunity to achieve different shots and angles from a pedestal on track.
"We were originally asked to come up with a way to get a pedestal shot on track," explains Tim Highmoor, Head of Rentals (TCS). "The mounting needed to achieve low and high angles as well as move from side to side in a restricted area of a theatre. Normally a ride-on film dolly employing a grip would have been used but on this occasion the cameraman wanted to elevate and depress the column himself while keeping his full attention on the viewfinder. A prototype was produced which did everything the client needed. From that the Skquattro has evolved and is now being used on some of the biggest productions in British television."
About The Camera Store (TCS)
Established in 1996 and based in West London, The Camera Store (a Vitec Group company) draws on many years of experience as television cameramen to guide clients in their choice of equipment. It has a large stock of standard equipment, including pedestals, tripods, heads, crane arms, lighting, fibre-optic cable and camera-support accessories. The Camera Store offers a countrywide rapid response delivery and collection service embracing large or small items. It is always ready to meet the challenge of improving existing kit or developing new production tools. See www.thecamerastore.co.uk
Accompanying image shows the TCS Skquattro, set to minimum height, ready for action at the National Theatre Live production of People.