Eurovision 2016: Newton Brings Added Stability and Efficiency to Live Broadcasts

MUMBAI: Newton gyro-stabilized camera heads helped capture live action from the stage at the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 for NEP Sweden and Rail & Tracking Systems (RTS). The NEWTON heads were used for the broadcast of the semi-finals and final of the competition, which ended on Saturday. Camera operators now have a compact, affordable stabilized head providing precise control of camera, lens, and gimbal movement by a single operator.

“The NEWTON performed flawlessly for us during the Eurovision broadcasts,” said Daniel Hjalmarsson, an independent special cameras and remote head operator who worked one of the cameras in front of the stage. “Until now I haven’t been able to operate both the head and the movement of the tracking rig by myself.”

Hjalmarsson used Intuitive Aerial’s DOMINION gimbal/camera controller to precisely operate the NEWTON head and Grass Valley LDX Compact camera and lens over an Ethernet connection. The DOMINION runs on CAN bus, which enables quick integration with third-party products. Intuitive Aerial programmed the controller so its joystick, in addition to being used for pan, tilt, and zoom, could be rotated to move the height adjustable tower up and down. Hjalmarsson moved the rig left and right along the 10-metre horizontal tracks with foot-operated controls. This ability of the DOMINION to be integrated with the equipment of other companies 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.

“The whole setup feels more professional with the NEWTON head,” Hjalmarsson said. “I could make even the smallest move by myself, which is much easier and quicker than having to communicate with an assistant.”

The Eurovision Song Contest, which was won this year by Ukraine and singer-songwriter Jamala, was viewed by over 200 million people around the world, including, for the first time, in the U.S. Prior to setting up for the broadcast, Hjalmarsson made a list of what he wanted in a stabilized camera head. Then, Intuitive Aerial ensured that the NEWTON and its DOMINION controller were integrated with the necessary third-party products.

“The NEWTON heads worked even better than we expected and we had no failures or problems at all during the three weeks,” said Axel Engström, project manager at NEP Sweden who chose the equipment to be used and was responsible to the Swedish host broadcaster, SVT. “The stabilization of the NEWTON meant we were able to shoot flawless footage.”

“With the NEWTON, I was able to zoom in much further than usual,” Hjalmarsson explained. “I could start with a head shot or half shot, then move out to the total stage, without any vibrations at all. Directors and others on the set who saw the system were really impressed.”

The NEWTON weighs only 15 lbs and can be mounted on 1D/2D/3D wire-cam systems, cranes, dollies, motorcycles and other vehicles, and any compact moving rig where weight and visual footprint need to be minimized. “While other gyro heads are large and obtrusive, the size of the NEWTON means I could hide it from the other cameras,” Hjalmarsson said.

Hjalmarsson will be using the NEWTON again soon for a live broadcast of the Stockholm Marathon on June 4. “It was funny because one of the Swedish TV stations called to say they wanted to use the NEWTON for the Marathon and asked us if we knew anything about it,” he laughed. “They were delighted to hear that we were using it on Eurovision and that it had been such a success for us.”

Hjalmarsson, who has worked on the TV show Swedish Idol since 2004, hopes 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. Now, with the NEWTON, we can afford it.”

“We were thrilled to see the NEWTON pass its first major test on such a huge stage,” said Robin Kahlbom, CEO of Intuitive Aerial. “We’re glad to be able to integrate our technology with that of our third-party partners, providing operators with more compact, unobtrusive camera setups.”

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