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Old January 27th, 2014, 09:37 PM   #1
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2014 Sochi Olympics: Aerial Cameras

It's been a long time since I've posted on the forums but I've been really busy the past couple of years! I'm not sure if anyone is interested in this, but I'll be at the Sochi Olympics operating a point-to-point aerial camera system. I'm trying something new this year and I'm going to try and share my experiences with more people, like making posts. I don't post things every day, but maybe once a week or once every couple of weeks. At the Olympics I'll definitely keep you updated every four or five days with what's going on.

So you might be asking why I would post about a point-to-point aerial camera system on this forum. After all, this is the same type of system that they use for football games in a four-point configuration so isn't that worlds apart from today's drones and UAV's? Actually, no. There is a lot of correlation between the work that I do with a full broadcast aerial camera system and a military drone and a small UAV. I use a controller with a joystick to operate the camera and I work with a pilot who also uses a joystick controller. There are a lot more similarities that I won't list here.

If you're interested in learning about what we do over there to cover the events, follow me on twitter at benlynncameraop.

Yes, this is a shameless plug for my feed :-) But fear not! I will always answer any replies to this post. I love my DVinfo family and hanging out on this site. I only list the twitter account because it will be my main method of sharing with people. I don't want to post a new thread every three days on this forum but I don't mind making a new tweet every few days and only those who want to follow me can. I won't bother the rest of you on this forum :-)

I'll be covering the freestyle snowboarding and skiing but I plan on visiting the pilot's and camera ops as some of the other events as well while I'm there. I'll post some pictures and some videos while I'm there. I worked the London Summer Games and I can tell you that the Olympics is an amazing event. No matter what you do there, it's pretty cool just being there. Hit me up with any questions you might have about the Olympics and the tv production aspect of it.

Ben
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Old January 28th, 2014, 07:58 AM   #2
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Re: 2014 Sochi Olympics: Aerial Cameras

Was just having this disscussion yesterday with a guy I was shooting with. Explaining to him that from the gimbal down its basically the same rig.
I will be on the lookout for your work. I hoping I will have the need to buy a 300 foot cable system for some jobs at home so I can haul it up to a big couloir and shoot my froiends dropping something steeeeep But then again, I dream too big sometimes.
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Old January 28th, 2014, 12:47 PM   #3
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Re: 2014 Sochi Olympics: Aerial Cameras

Ben,
Don't forget your furlined hat! And keep your head down! and your butt lower! HA! Like I said to you the other day ENJOY!
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Old January 28th, 2014, 03:55 PM   #4
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Re: 2014 Sochi Olympics: Aerial Cameras

Gary Nattrass is there too, somewhere, but knowing him, probably indoors, and warm, and near the bar!
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Old January 28th, 2014, 04:29 PM   #5
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Re: 2014 Sochi Olympics: Aerial Cameras

Don, the furlined hat is on the top of my "to get" list :-)

John, I would take it a step further and say that it doesn't go just gimbal down. There is a lot of correlation for the piloting portion of the system as well. Both the camera op and the pilot utilize joysticks to control their portion of the system. How the piloting is conducted is probably the biggest change. With a UAV there is never a rest. When the UAV is in the air you have to maintain control. With a four point aerial camera system you can stop, take a break, whatever you want and the system will just sit there all day with the brakes on. However, once a show starts it's essentially non-stop flying until the end of the show. At least it is if the pilot is doing their job! But both UAV's and cable cameras utilizes a similar point of view, similar spatial orientation demands on the pilot, etc.

Paul, I hope you're right about Gary! Someone has to enjoy a nice indoor work environment to compensate for those who are outdoors on the slopes. Myself, I believe I'll be in a control area with three sides covered and a roof. So I'm not free from the cold but I should be protected from the elements. I'll let you know when I get there!
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Old January 28th, 2014, 05:23 PM   #6
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Re: 2014 Sochi Olympics: Aerial Cameras

Have fun over there. I know a guy who is going over to work at the broadcast center as an EVS op.
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Old February 9th, 2014, 10:53 AM   #7
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Re: 2014 Sochi Olympics: Aerial Cameras

I posted a couple of times on my blog at this url:Sochi- Camera Work Preparations | benlynnblog

But I'll add a little more on this forum. They're using a hexacopter at the top of the Slopestyle course for the broadcasts. I don't know much about it, but I do know that it is being operated by just a single operator. I hope to get up to the top of the hill at some point and meet the operator but I've been tied up with my own stuff since getting here.
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Old February 9th, 2014, 11:41 AM   #8
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Re: 2014 Sochi Olympics: Aerial Cameras

Gary is definitely there, but his pictures so far seem to indicate he's warm, well fed and un-snowed on!
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Old February 9th, 2014, 06:44 PM   #9
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Re: 2014 Sochi Olympics: Aerial Cameras

Ben,
I watched some of the snowboarding and ski stuff and even said to my wife, "Hey I think that's Ben shooting that stuff"! She said, "It looks cold" I told her you were snuggly warm in a nice 3 sided tent with a campfire burning in the middle and hot soup on the stove. Once again she fell for it!
;-)
Keep warm, keep safe, keep up the good work and keep posting to the blog. I read it today...interesting!
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Old February 11th, 2014, 01:16 AM   #10
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Re: 2014 Sochi Olympics: Aerial Cameras

Found this story amusing on a Canadian website: Sochi drone shooting Olympic TV, not terrorists - National | Globalnews.ca
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Old February 11th, 2014, 03:26 AM   #11
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Re: 2014 Sochi Olympics: Aerial Cameras

I have a question - the snowboarding pictures were excellent - and I can't imagine how fast the camera was having to travel - but what got me was the noise - presumably the noise we could hear was the camera mount? I'd really like to see a proper photo of the camera and mount - on the wide shots where we could see it, it looked quite, er, large?
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Old February 14th, 2014, 12:20 PM   #12
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Re: 2014 Sochi Olympics: Aerial Cameras

Paul,

I'll try and get a decent picture posted up in the next few days. If you're talking about my cable camera making noise then it was probably the real helicopter getting too close to the course because that happened a few times. The cable camera is pretty much silent. The gyro's don't make hardly any noise and those are the only things that would make any sound on the entire rig. So it was probably the real chopper getting close to the course if it sounded like a helicopter.

I asked my pilot a couple of days ago how fast the system was going and he said it was going 38 to 40mph at the last jump. And at that speed we were tracking along.with the athletes so that's how fast they were going off the jumps!

The system is pretty big. The camera head portion is 3ft. tall, plus you add another foot for the transport rig.
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Old February 14th, 2014, 01:18 PM   #13
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Re: 2014 Sochi Olympics: Aerial Cameras

The noise I heard was a kind of whining - a bit like a motor hoist going really fast. Sort of like the noise a zip line makes when people abseil down them?

Pics would be really interesting - thanks. Paul
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Old February 14th, 2014, 01:52 PM   #14
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Re: 2014 Sochi Olympics: Aerial Cameras

Ben
Don't let Eddie Martino touch that flying rig. I seem to recall he was cam op on the one that fell to earth some years ago and almost got an NFL quarterback! ;-)

I've been watching. Your camera work is great as always. Looks like you and the crew really meshed well.
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Old February 15th, 2014, 07:47 AM   #15
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Re: 2014 Sochi Olympics: Aerial Cameras

Don, I'm sure that Eddie is working a camera somewhere over here for NBC but I'm not sure where. The guys I work with are definitely good people.

Paul, I asked about the audio noise and you were right, the system makes a zipline noise as it flies. It isn't that loud really but they crank up the audio to try and hear the ski's on the snow and that in turn picks up the noise from the system. Great ears! You get more info than me because I don't have any program audio feed on this show. I only hear the director and that's it.

I posted some pictures on my blog page so you can see the size of the system and my operating station.
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