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FishFace captures ‘stunning’ HD underwater shots for ‘Gladiators,’ says Scandinavian production specialist

Contestants in the autumn 2011 season of “Gladiators” on TV4 Sweden came head-to-head with Polecam when production commenced at the Loefbergs Lila arena in Karlstad.

Tommie Rekstad of Scandinavian television production support services provider Pink Elephant deployed a Toshiba HD camera in a Polecam FishFace housing attached to a Polecam rig.

"Aquatics is a strong element of this ‘Gladiators’ series," explained Rekstad. "A 330cu meter pool with a depth of 2.5m forms a centerpiece of the arena. Operating a miniature HD camera inside FishFace on our Polecam rig gives us the freedom to capture stunning underwater shots without stunning the swimmers in the process.

“The combination enables us to track fast action with absolute precision, which is quite a challenge when televising a contest between two deep-water swimmers at close range.”

Thirteen cameras were used for the show. Eleven trucks were needed to transport the infrastructure to Karlstad. The set and technical equipment required six weeks to construct. However, the Polecam was transported in a normal car and made ready for action within minutes of arrival, he said.

An underwater head for use with a tripod-mounted or handheld Polecam rig, FishFace is a completely submersible pan/tilt unit and camera housing. The head can be used to a depth of around 13ft on the Polecam or in a free-swimming environment to a depth of 33ft. The carbon-fiber boom is designed to flood and drain quickly. FishFace has 360-degree pan capability and unrestricted movement, identical to that of the standard dry head. Live air-water-air transition shots are possible. A prototype FishFace was used to great effect during diving at the Athens Olympics.

“Gladiators” is a sports entertainment television show that has garnered success in Australia, Britain, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sweden and the United States.v