LONDON—Live TV broadcasts have put cameras on all different kinds of things—from cranes to cars to drones. Now, broadcasters are putting cameras on skates. Or more appropriately, putting a cameraman on skates to capture new angles for a British figure skating show.
“Dancing on Ice” is a spin on the “Dancing With the Stars” premise, with British celebrities paired with professional figure skaters to perform for judges. In recent years, the production has been working with Alan Wells Camera, which introduced a rail cam along the skating rink and since 2019 have been using what it calls the “Ice Cam.”
The Ice Cam is a Sony HDC-P50 broadcast camera with a Canon HJ14 lens hooked up to a Ready Rig with a Newton stabilized remote head. This setup is worn by figure skater Jordan Cowan, while the camera is remotely operated by cameraman Dominic Jackson through Newton’s control panel at an operator’s desk.
Cowan is an American skater who started On Ice Perspectives to bring cameras onto the ice to film figure skaters. When he heard that “Dancing on Ice” was looking for a cameraman who could skate he showed some of his work and was hired to be “the first ever skating camera operator for a live televised show.”
The decision to go with a skating cameraman came after “Dancing on Ice” attempted different techniques to get on-ice perspectives.
Alan Wells customized a Ready Rig to control the Sony camera and Canon lens (supplied by Telegenic), adding carbon fiber brackets on the rig so it could hold the Newton stabilized remote head. The rig was then customized to Cowan’s body and made to properly balance the gear so as to allow for full movement. The final rig weighs 15 kg and includes a RF system for data communication, a Boxx Link for video, batteries and a monitor.
When it comes to the actual production, Jackson positioned his operator’s desk so that he has a line of sight to Cowan when he is on the ice to know where the camera is in relation to the dancers. Jackson and Cowan also have a radio system that allows them to talk to each other.
“The Ice Cam revolutionized ‘Dancing on Ice’ and gave audiences a new way to appreciate the real speed skaters experience on the ice,” said Cowan.
After the first season of using the Ice Cam, Jackson and Cowan were nominated for the GTC Awards for Excellence by the Guild of Television Camera Professionals.
Cowan also used the Ice Cam for the show “The Real Full Monty on Ice” in December 2020.
Watch some Ice Cam footage below.
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