Vinten were once again delighted to be involved with the reality TV show ‘Big Brother’. They aided in providing the public with hours of footage by supplying pan and tilt heads, tripods and pedestals to support many of the cameras within the UK Big Brother 2 house and studios on behalf of Endemol Entertainment UK.
This close up examination of 10 people’s lives was filmed and recorded in communal isolation 24 hours a day for 64 days. This together with 18 hour long daily E4 (satellite channel) coverage and five days a week live Little Brother shows proved a demanding set up.
A total of 33 cameras - 14 remotely controlled heads, 14 cameras supported by Vinten Vision pan and tilt heads and 2-stage tripods and four cameras on Vinten Osprey Elite lightweight studio/OB pedestals caught all the action.
The fixed mounts and manned pedestals were situated in the extensive camera runs around the house and garden. The Elites together with all other technical facilities and crew were supplied by ‘Roll to Record’ managing Director and Chief engineer, Peter Webber, commented on his choice of Vinten equipment:
“Cameramen ask to use Vinten, they feel this equipment is indispensable. The cameras and supports we use here have to stand up to more than 2000 hours of continuous filming and therefore we have to have something we can rely on and that can take a bashing.”
It was a very unique filming environment with the cameramen in a blacked out corridor surrounding the house filming through one way glass windows. The lengthy coverage means there was a number of cameramen working on shifts. Cameramen can easily suffer from fatigue under such conditions, with the help of ‘perfect balance’ - a unique feature to the Vision range of pan and tilt heads this was minimised. Perfect balance allows the camera operator to position the camera in one spot and leave it there. The drag setting on these heads is independent of the balance adjustment so it also allows the operator to respond to movement easily with no drag adjustments to make.
The original show in Holland had fixed camera positions, filming at one height through shallow windows and limiting shot opportunities. Pre-series rehearsals of the first UK Big Brother highlighted the need for pedestals. Vinten Osprey Elites were selected for the job and have proved very useful.
Peter Webber commented:
“The Osprey Elites have more than justified their investment. They allow the cameramen extra movement and fluidity within their work - unachievable with tripods. With the deep windows and increase in shot heights achievable with the Elites the cameramen can view over and around objects that get in the way, allowing them to follow the housemate's movements as they stand up and sit down.”
“The Elites also reduced the number of cameras and therefore operators required, covering a larger filming area more effectively than a fixed tripod
Vinten equipment is designed to be intuitive, and therefore reduces the need for training. This is crucial in this sort of filming environment, with a high number of cameramen all with varied experience of using the equipment.
Camera operator Shane Appleton commented:
“The Ospreys are not complicated and really easy to use and although we are using them with older heads they work well as a system.”
Big Brother has proved so popular world-wide that there are now Big Brother houses in 15 countries including France, Sweden, Australia and the USA. In Argentina Vision 250 pan and tilt heads designed for the latest EFP camera combinations were used on the original series and have been selected once again for Big Brother 2 - running at present.
Vinten wishes the best of luck to Endemol Entertainment UK and Big Brother as it successfully continues to evolve and attract viewers around the world.