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Vinten Head Is a 'Wizard' of Support

Rick Gunter
HOLLYWOOD
I've been using Vinten support ever since I started shooting multi-camera shows about eight years ago. When you're on a stage working with four, and sometimes five, cameras, and you're often shooting with a live audience, you need camera support that you can really count on. For me, that support comes from Vinten. Their equipment has gotten got me through some touch-and-go situations on half a dozen television series, including "Listen Up" and "Thick and Thin."

I'm currently working on my fourth season of "Wizards of Waverly Place" for The Disney Channel, one of their most popular live-action sitcoms.

FOUR CAMERA SHOOTING SETUP IS STANDARD

To capture action in the series we elected to shoot at 24p with Sony HDC-1500 HD cameras equipped with Fujinon lenses and to employ a standard four camera setup. The "A" Camera captures close-ups, overs and coverage, while the "B" and "C" cameras capture the masters. The "X" camera handles the reversals. This sort of camera setup can prove to be both simple and complicated at the same time.

As this series is about a family of "wizards," there are usually a lot of visual effects involved, with a good deal of blue screen and green screen work. And there are also some very strange other colors that we have to deal with.

Not too long ago we had an episode where someone got dumped into a genie's bottle. The kids in the story were told that they could get him out of the bottle with "Orange Crush." Everything involved in that shoot was orange. And there were strange sets and even stranger lights. Added to this were a lot of the characters who popped in and out of the shot. This really wasn't a big deal for me, as I was used to this sort of thing from another series I'd worked on.

NEEDS REPEATABLE PERFORMANCE

As part of our shooting, we also work in the "wizard's lair" a lot. That means locking off the cameras and using green screen. Then we come back to the shot.

When we set up the shot and then have to walk away, it's comforting to know that the Vinten heads will hold the spot. When our operators return to their positions, everything has remained exactly as they left it. It's that simple.

My camera operators all trust Vinten, from the perfect balance that can be achieved to the smoothness of the pan and tilt functions that the heads provide. We simply wouldn't do a show such as this one without Vinten support.

Sometimes things can get a little tense on the set when you have four cameras that are moving around simultaneously—and also across a not-so-even stage floor. The weight and overall stability of Vinten heads smooth out shots under such conditions.

Four cameras in motion at the same time also means that there are four operators jockeying for a shooting position.

Inevitably someone starts to cross someone else's path and you'll hear a good-natured "get out of my way." With Vinten heads this isn't really a problem. The fast response of the camera heads averts potential bad shots or collisions in such situations with just a quick flip of the wrist.

The Vinten equipment that we're using has truly proven to be another kind of wizard.

Rick F. Gunter, ASC, began his career in television as a camera assistant and has worked up to the position of director of photography. He may be contacted atwww.rickfgunterasc.com.

For additional information, contact Vinten at 888-284-6836 or visitwww.vinten.com.