A multi mini-camera rig designed and built by Camera Corps captured the action for ITN Productions' recent three-part documentary 'Easyjet: Inside the Cockpit'. Produced in association with the airline pilot training organisation CTV Aviation and narrated by Stephen Fry, the programmes follow the experience of trainee pilots undertaking their first passenger flight.
"Our brief from ITN was to build a high quality, cost effective, easy to rig multi-camera mini-rig to be used in the cockpit of an EasyJet Airbus 320," explains Camera Corps Barry Parker. "We designed it to allow safe installation within 10 to 15 minutes by an ITN production team member during the turnround of an aircraft on the ground.
"We developed and built the system in close cooperation with EasyJets senior operational management to ensure approvals were given at every stage. Civil Aviation Authority regulations for in-cockpit filming state that any camera installation within the cockpit must not have any impact on the pilots or their sightlines, nor interfere in any way with normal operations of the plane. The final design was fully tested in a flight simulator before first trial flight and formal approval.
"The complete mini-rig was robustly packaged to cover multiple flights throughout a three month period. It successfully captured high quality broadcast footage during take-offs and landings as well as in-flight. The system had to run for up to five hours from its own batteries and provide high quality images night and day.
"Integrated into the system were four high quality high definition mini-cams plus a solid state recorder, monitor and microphones to record effects and pilot communications. Power was sourced from an airline-safe Anton Bauer battery and bespoke cable loom. Three cameras were secured on a cushioned anti-vibration mount that could be rigged safely to the cockpit dash.
"Two cameras were each set with a tight lens, for pilot and co-pilot. The third camera was fitted with super wide lens looking back at both pilots. The fourth camera was mounted as in point of view mode to capture taxiing, landings and take-offs. Each full 1920x1080 HD 3G SDI mini-cam was selected from our portfolio for its high imaging quality, sensitivity and low latency. The cameras' footprint, high functionality and ability to take a variety of lenses made them the perfect choice for this application.
"Recorder, monitor and battery were secured to a purpose-built chassis designed to fit inside the pilots stowage area at the side of the cockpit. A fifth camera was included for mounting at the rear of the cockpit if time allowed. This was available as a back-up and to capture an over-the-shoulder perspective of both pilots. Effects and pilot communications audio were captured using bespoke audio leads so we could connect into the spare cockpit intercom.
"We provided initial training and consultancy to the ITN team prior to handing over the rig followed by full back up and support for the duration of filming."
ITN Productions (www.itnproductions.co.uk) is the award-winning independent factual and entertainment production arm of ITN. It produces films, programmes and TV series for major networks in the UK and internationally. Output spans from Oscar-nominated hard-hitting current affairs programming to high-rating popular factual programmes for broadcasters including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky, Discovery, Netflix and CBS. As part of the ITN group, ITN Productions is uniquely positioned to collaborate with colleagues across the business from leading commercial news operations, ITV News, Channel 4 News and Channel 5 News, advertising, sport and education departments, as well as utilising ITN's archive.
A Vitec Group company, Camera Corps (www.cameracorps.co.uk) is a world leader in supplying speciality remote cameras, remote tracks systems and bespoke camera systems to broadcasters worldwide. We offer a wide range of production equipment for daily or event-based hire. This includes a fixed and steerable robotic-heads, underwater cameras, cranes, platforms and dollies, the iconic Q-Ball plus miniature devices such as wearable cameras with the latest high-performance wireless links.