OConnor Heads Make Production a Breeze
October 18, 2011
LOS ANGELES—I'm very much involved in the production of "Rizzoli & Isles," a television crime series that airs on TNT.
Bruce Miller, the production designer for the series, has done a wonderful job of designing sets that visually reinforce the contrast of backgrounds and styles of the show's two main characters' work and home environments. In order to light and shoot these sets in the tight TV production schedule in which we work, my crew and I have to perform our jobs fast and efficiently. There's no allowance built in the shooting schedule for downtime from equipment that isn't completely reliable and flawless in day to day use.
(l-r) Anthony Hardwick, cinematographer; Dan Turrett, operator; and Mark Alvarez, assistant camera operator
We used a pair of Arri Alexa motion picture-style digital cameras and a complement of lenses on production of the show's second season. Shooting for the series is primarily dolly-based, but we also do quite a bit of stabilizer and handheld shooting, especially for some of the more action-oriented sequences.
At the core of my camera support is a pair of OConnor 2575 systems. Having come up through the camera department, I've done my share of TV shows and movies through the years, and OConnor has always been my fluid head of choice. These camera heads are perfect for capturing fast-action, long-lens shots, as well as serving as an all-around workhorse for doing traditional studio-style shooting. I've used Oconnor camera heads for shooting everything from fast-action sports footage to capturing the action shootouts and stunt sequences in "Rizzoli and Isles." The OConnor 2575 systems are simply the best fluid heads available, period.
LONG LENS SHOTS ARE NO BIG DEAL
The final episode of the first season of "Rizzoli and Isles" involved a full siege of the police precinct that's part of the show. In capturing this siege, we did several 600 to 1000 mm long shots which simulated a sniper's point of view. The 2575's solid support made these shots dynamic and steady at the same time, which is a lot to ask when you're shooting at extreme focal lengths.
For the show's second season, the episodes have become even more ambitious and challenging, with more involved stunt and effects sequences. In order to keep our shooting on schedule, we brought in a third camera to help with these enhanced production requirements. This helped a lot and on one particular day's shooting, we were actually able to handle more than 100 setups through the use of this three camera methodology.
One of our episodes centered around Salem witchcraft. And one particular sequence in this show involved a 150-foot track run for a dolly shot "walk and talk" sequence set in a graveyard. Gravestones and trees passing by in the foreground were an integral part of this particular shot, and once again, our trusty OConnor 2575 head made the shot both easy to accomplish and rock solid.
If I'm involved in the shooting of a project, OConnor 2575 systems are going to be in the package.
Anthony Hardwick is a freelance director of photography based in Los Angeles. He may be contacted at
For additional information, contact OConnor, a Vitec Group brand, at 818-847-8666 or visit www.ocon.com.
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