LOS ANGELES—I've been working in the multi-camera production world for the past seven years, and most recently have been involved in the production of two shows for Nickelodeon that are targeted at the youth market—"iCarly" and "Victorious."
Michael Spodnik I'm a long-time user of Vinten camera support systems and their equipment plays a big part in the production of these series for Nickelodeon.
"Victorious" is filled with music and dance, and we shoot a lot of musical numbers that rival many large live stage performances. We often switch between telling a story and then capturing dynamic song and dance scenes with the entire cast, all of which makes good camera coverage critical to creating a great show.
Camera setups are similar for both productions. We use high-definition multi-camera pedestal setups, with an occasional dolly for single camera elements. Our four main cameras are Sony 1500Rs connected via fiber to studio decks and hard drives located off-stage. To support the 1500Rs, we use Vinten studio pedestals and Vinten Vector 750.
The Vinten Vector studio heads are easy to use and they allow our operators to tailor trim the shots they're making. We often use half-foot and one-foot risers on the set of "iCarly" in order to get the extra bit of pedestal elevation that we need in some shots.
In one episode of "iCarly," the script called for the cast to go into the woods in search of a half-raccoon/half-beaver creature. We had a full blown recreational vehicle on stage arranged in front of a large forest set. The challenge was to shoot high through the RV's windows and then to lower the camera to capture the forest scene, all in the same shot. The Vector heads provided the level of stability that we needed to make this an easy and visually pleasing transition in connection with the elevation drop and pedestal movement.
When shooting "Victorious" and its large cast that's often singing and dancing, we found that versatile camera positions are an absolute must. This cast moves fast and our camera moves have to be equally fast and stable when following such action. During one "Victorious" episode, the script called for the group to go to an Eastern European country to give a performance, and winds up with them getting thrown into jail. The group, with its 50 dancers, is then able to escape after performing a large song and dance number in the prison yard. Our Vinten gear enabled us to capture all of the required camera shots very easily and quickly.
Top-uality production and support equipment is absolutely essential in meeting the challenges that we face everyday in this fast-paced world of multi-camera television production.
NO DOWN TIME WITH VINTEN
When you're on a tight schedule and have to shoot 20 or more pages of script each day, you can't waste time waiting on camera or pedestal problems. I can truthfully say that we have none of our shooting days have ever been delayed by problems with our Vinten setups.
Michael Spodnik is a director of photography, and has shot some 300 episodes of single and multi-camera television for the Nickelodeon Network. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional information, contact Vinten, a Vitec brand, at 888-284-6836 or visit www.vinten.com.
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