Burbank, California. When the camera crew of the hit series Rita Rocks, the story of an overworked wife and mother in the middle of a full-blown identity crisis, takes to the stage for the second season, they’ll be relying on Vinten’s Vector head 700H and Vinten pedestals.
“This show is a traditional 4-ped camera show,” says seven time Emmy-winning cinematographer Donald A. Morgan ASC. “The sets are deep. We have a large garage set up where not only the band practices, but we have a lot of action with the neighbors. There is the exterior of the garage that leads into the kitchen. And, of course, the kitchen itself, which is a thoroughfare for Rita, her husband, her two daughters and the dog. Then there is the living room and front porch. Add to that, the two or three swing sets we have each episode, and you have a very active show to shoot.
“We frame for the traditional 4x3 but protect the image for the HD 16x9 screen,” he adds. “To do this, production design has added extensions of the set to the left and right downstage edges, for that extra needed in the frame when characters go in and out the doors at the downstage edge."
“It makes movement for our ‘A’ and ‘X’ (outside) cameras a little tricky,” he explains. “In an environment such as this, it’s important to have reliable equipment. I’ve always found that my operators prefer Vinten because of the precise tracking of the pedestal in the four-camera environment. It’s more than the durability and lack of down time. Often, the outside guys have to turn, pull, lift, pan and tilt in moments because they have to get back to position quickly. There is no time for repositioning.”
The inside ‘B’ and ‘C’ cameras, called the ‘Master cameras’ are also active, but with a totally different type of need. “In many of the master shots we will try to do a dolly-type move with the ped cameras,” Morgan explains. “They move, push left or right, raise up and push in. Normally, when you use a traditional dolly, it takes three people to execute such a shot. When you use a ped, there is only one operator. Vinten’s reliability allows a good operator to execute this difficult one-person move precisely and smoothly. And, if the director has planned something that is a little more challenging, the peds have a steering mechanism that allows an assistant to pull, when the operator moves up or down.”
Donald A. Morgan ASC, his team and their Vinten equipment are extremely active this season. Before Rita Rocks goes back for a full 20 episode pick up, they will have shot at least three multi-camera pilots. Alligator Point directed by Kelsey Grammar used four peds, Two Dollar Bear director by Mike Bender combined two peds with traditional dollies and a third project as yet to be titled with three peds and one dolly.
“My operators and I agree – when you are trying to execute challenging moves with a ped camera, you have to have a fine machine to rely on. That means, you have to have Vinten. The Vinten head is simply the Cadillac of camera support systems in the industry.”
Rita Rocks airs on Mondays at 8:30 PM ET/PT on Lifetime.
The equipment being used on this show was rental equipment, modified and provided by J.L. Fisher, Inc.