For the live broadcast of the three events of Eurovision, NEP Sweden and Rail & Tracking Systems (RTS) used NEWTON stabilized heads to build two sets of telescopic camera towers on rail, that only demanded one camera operator each.
Event / Project
The Eurovision Song Contest is one of the world´s biggest television events, with approx. 200 million viewers worldwide, and features the countries of Europe competing in the performance of best original pop song. In 2016, the contest was the 61st edition of the annual event and held at the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden, following the win the previous year by Swedish artists Måns Zelmerlöv. Entries from forty-two countries participated in the two semi-finals on 10th and 12th May with the final on 14th May being the first edition to be broadcast on live television in the US. Justin Timberlake performed during the interval act of the final which had a record-breaking 204 million live viewers worldwide.
NEP Sweden is a part of the NEP Group, a leading international production company that provides outsourced media and broadcast services for major events throughout the world. For the live broadcast of the three events of Eurovision, NEP Sweden was tapped by the host broadcaster SVT to provide equipment and with the help of German company Rail & Tracking Systems (RTS), they used NEWTON stabilized heads to build two sets of telescopic camera towers, moving on rail tracks.
These builds enabled the operators to singlehandedly control both tower movements as well as the NEWTON heads, with their Grass Valley LDX Compact cameras and Canon HJ14 lenses. The operators used foot pedals to move the towers on the 10-metre track along the stage and the DOMINION controller to operate the NEWTON head over an Ethernet connection. For this integration, Intuitive Aerial programmed the DOMINION controller so its joystick, in addition to being used for pan, tilt, and zoom, could be rotated to move the telescopic tower up and down. It resulted in a streamlined operator experience and saved the production money by turning what is usually a two-person job into a one-man operation. Daniel Hjalmarsson, an independent special camera and remote head operator who worked one of the camera rigs was very content with this solution: “Until now I haven’t solely been able to operate both head and rig movement but now I could make even the smallest move by myself, which is much easier and quicker than having to communicate with an assistant. That makes the whole set up feel more professional with the NEWTON head” said Hjalmarsson.
The NEWTON system also proved to be a great asset in terms of stabilizing the two dimensional movement of the telescopic tower. “The NEWTON performed flawlessly for us during the Eurovision broadcasts” Hjalmarsson explained. “With the NEWTON, I was able to zoom in much further than what I am used to and I could start with a head shot or half shot, then move out to the whole stage, without any vibrations at all. Directors and others, who saw the system on the set, were also really impressed.” The discreet profile of NEWTON is another important feature when in front of a stage and Hjalmarsson continued: “While other gyro heads are large and obtrusive, the size of the NEWTON means I could hide it from the other cameras”. Hjalmarsson, who has worked on the TV show Swedish Idol since 2004, hoped to be able to use the NEWTON on that show as well. “We’ve been looking for a head like this one. It costs too much to get a larger one, but now, with the NEWTON, we can afford it.”
RTS was also pleased with the integration and performance of NEWTON on their self developed moving camera towers. “Using NEWTON on Eurovision opened up a new perspective of camera movement for us” said Daniel Pfleger, supervisor at RTS. “It makes it possible for us to embrace the trend toward smaller, lighter and unobtrusive camera systems. We’ve been searching for a lightweight functional head for a long time and the NEWTON is the first stabilized remote head that comes at an affordable price as well as with excellent support.”
Axel Engström is the project manager at NEP Sweden who choose the equipment and was responsible to the Swedish host broadcaster, SVT. Regarding his selection he explained: “NEWTON gives us very steady images and with its slim design it’s perfect for our smaller TV cameras. The gyro-stabilized head together with our wide-angle lenses creates a very strong combination”. After the shows, he continued “The NEWTON heads worked even better than we expected, and we had no failures or problems at all during the three weeks of production. The stabilization of the NEWTON meant we were able to shoot flawless footage.”
The following year, In 2017, the Eurovision Song Contest was held in Kiev, Ukraine and NEP Sweden was once again assigned, but this time by the Ukranian State television UA:PBC, to deliver broadcast equipment for the three live shows. The success of NEWTON in Stockholm made it natural for NEP to install a similar system here as well and NEWTON was this time placed on a telescopic tower moving along the round stage right in front of the performers, but in low angel not to obstruct the view. Axel Engström at NEP concluded: “The low profile combined with the powerful stabilization of NEWTON makes it very suitable for this kind of extraordinary productions”.