Veteran Director of Photography, Paul Maibaum, ASC has always been conscious of the importance of the best support for his projects. That’s why he’s chosen four Vinten Vector fluid heads and Vinten pedestals for his new ABC Family comedy, “Baby Daddy”. This multi-camera series follows three single guys living as roommates in Manhattan, New York, who find themselves collectively thrust into fatherhood, when a baby is left at their doorstep, the result of a one-night stand.
“I wasn’t a multi-cam sitcom operator, so my familiarity with the use of the Vinten heads and pedestals had been limited to how I see as them being used by the hands (and feet) of experienced operators like we have on ‘Baby Daddy’,” says Maibaum. “The shots seem so effortlessly executed.”
“In today’s multi-camera sitcom environment, the camera operators are required to work with cameras on peds and are consistently tasked to deliver shots that are cinematic, where they must dolly, focus, zoom, pan and tilt on their own,” he explains. “The cameras (we use four Panavised Sony F3s) are loaded down with monitors, focus assist devices, thick cables, large zoom lenses and in the case of this show, eye-lights mounted above the camera lenses. It all adds up to a sizeable weight.
“The Vinten Vector fluid heads can be so precisely balanced that the operators not only achieve very complicated shots, but in addition, they whip the cameras across the set on cue, to capture a close-up of an actor as he enters through a doorway or appears suddenly upstage from a back room. I have not seen another piece of equipment perform as flawlessly as the Vinten Vectors.
“The members of the cast on ‘Baby Daddy’ are young and full of energy. The scripts call for scenes with a lot of movement from the actors and no matter how well rehearsed the operators are, there are always surprises,” says Maibaum. “On one episode entitled ‘On The Lamby’, Emma, the baby in ‘Baby Daddy’ loses her well-worn stuffed sheep affectionately referred to as ‘Lamby’. The boys try to get Emma to sleep but she has never been able to do so without this stuffed animal. The boys go into a panic trying to find it. When one of them finds it, they toss the hapless toy like a football from one to the other in order to get it to Emma before she has a meltdown.
“The scene is staged as if the guys are throwing a football, diving over furniture to make catches and they ultimately succeed in getting Lamby into the crib with Emma. In this scene all four operators have to follow the actors as well as the small stuffed sheep as it is tossed around the set. The action is fast and furious. The wing cameras with long focal length lenses have to capture the action as well as the center cameras with wider focal length lenses and since a real baby is part of the scene, there isn’t the luxury of having a lot of re-takes. In my estimation, the success of the operators’ execution of these shots within a scene like this greatly depends on the kind of equipment that is used. This is where we all can count on the Vinten heads to perform.”
David “Boomer” Dougherty, Maibaum’s “C” Camera Operator on “Baby Daddy” echoes Maibaum’s sentiments. He is a firm believer in the Vectors. “The fluid head, with its precision pan, tilt and fulcrum adjustments, becomes an extension of your being,” he says. “The most difficult shots on this show are always rising or sitting actors, and the fluidness of this head makes the action effortless. I tend to set the pan and tilt at a tighter setting than most, yet I can still whip pan and make delicate moves with out having to change the tension. I am a real stickler about balance of a camera. When I set the balance and fulcrum, the camera comes in to it
’s own zero gravity and I love that kind of precision. Whether I am zoomed all the way in on the lens, making a dolly move or holding a wide shot, I can trust that the Vinten Vector fluid head is always there to give back what I put in.”
“Baby Daddy”, an ABC Family sitcom, stars Jean-Luc Bildeau, Tahj Mowry, Derek Theler, Chelsea Kane and Melissa Peterman. The series has just been picked up for a second season, with the new episodes being shot now, and airing early Spring 2013.
Director of Photography Paul Maibaum, ASC, who is best known for the recent hit “Sons of Anarchy”, has also shot series such as “Samantha Who?” and “My Boys”.