WEEHAWKEN, N.J.—Crazy Duck Video and Photography is a small production company located just outside New York City, and one of our favorite and most challenging clients is New Jersey’s largest theme park, Six Flags Great Adventure.
Great Adventure sports some 52 attractions, including an off-road ramble through their massive Safari park and also Hurricane Harbor, a world-class water park.
Crazy Duck is responsible for creating the majority of the theme park’s promotional footage and recently we were tasked with capturing several of their coasters in operation, including the tallest and fastest steel coaster in the United States, Kingda Ka.
MULTIPLE CAMERAS A MUST
In order to create an exciting visual story, we shot the rides from multiple angles and also mounted small cameras to acquire point of view footage.
Safety comes first when shooting on and around amusement park rides. We’re responsible for the safety of camera operator and riders, as well as the ride itself, and always consult the ride’s maintenance engineers and safety crews prior to mounting cameras.
The window for getting our cameras in place is sometimes tight, so we have to work fast. When possible, we obtain photos of each ride’s seats, noting possible mounting sites. This allows us to have the right equipment in place and ready to go.
We rely on Manfrotto Super Clamps, hydrostatic arms and medium size ball heads such as their 498RC2 and 155RC Tilt-Top head, as these are all adapted to quickly mount to the clamps while providing excellent options for positioning. Stick-on plastic mounts and accessories are rarely an option.
Depending on the ride, we use DSLRs or GoPros mounted in metal cages to give the camera bodies additional strength, as well as to provide mounting options for suspending them. The powerful g-force of Kingda Ka’s launch and the torque from its lift and spirals can easily break or twist inferior mounts out of shape.
My camera of choice is our Sony PMWF55 configured with a Canon ENG lens, mounted on Manfrotto’s 509 HD fluid head with 536 CF legs. The 509’s head is strong and the camera quickly slides in and balances on the 509’s quick-release mount. There’s also a secure “click” which confirms that the camera plate has engaged.
The 536’s carbon fiber legs extend to just under seven feet, enabling us to shoot over the ride’s security fences, and its three independent legs lock in several positions, allowing us to get low-angle shots and providing easy setups when we’re working on uneven surfaces.
With more than 52 attractions at the park we need all the support we can get and we’ve been relying on Manfrotto products for this for years.
Chuck Fishbein is a senior partner and director of photography at Crazy Duck Video and Photography. He may be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional information, contact Manfrotto at 201-818-9500 or visitwww.manfrotto.us.