Vinten Makes Magic for Simmons and Pair of Kings

Johnny Simmons ASC

Disney’s Pair of Kings is an unusual multi-camera series, to say the least. It is filled with incredible battles and amazing stunts as well as special effects and “lots of really funny stuff,” says Director of Photography Johnny Simmons ASC. “We shoot both four-camera and single camera style; maintaining the use of all four cameras, shooting coverage inside the proscenium.

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“On the multi-camera shows that I’ve been shooting, Vinten® has pretty much been the standard,” he adds. “Coming from single camera, I wasn’t that familiar with what sitcom camera operators wanted to use. I asked for advice from seasoned operators and cinematographers and the answer was always – Vinten.

“On some episodes, we make use of a system called Lightcraft,” explains Simmons. “It is a real time virtual compositing system. We shoot on green screen and the virtual environment is being recorded in real time. The environment might be a mountain range, an ancient temple or a sandy beach. The operators are looking at the composite on their monitors as we shoot the actors doing stunts flying through the air or fighting some strange beast that isn’t there. It makes for a long day, all on green screen.

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“It’s another situation that relies on the reliability of our Vinten’s to perform,” he adds. “The camera moves are precise. A pan and tilt needs to stop and start when it’s supposed to in this virtual world. It’s always very well planned in advance of shooting. When the operators show up, it’s all been discussed, but they are seeing it for the first time and have to perform as if they’ve been a part of the prep. Thanks to their excellent skills and good equipment like Vinten, they get it done--and done well.”

Series operator Ray Gonzales says “The Vinten head is superbly better over the rival friction heads for smooth dependable camera moves. On Pair of Kings we’re dealing with sets that appear to be ancient temples and jungles filled with different creatures of every kind. I have to have top equipment.”

“Operator Larry Blumenthal agrees. “Thanks to the Vinten heads, with their solid and consistent quality, I know I have support to follow my operating needs; from fine to coarse, in nearly an intuitive way.”

“Operator Ken Herft summed it up for me recently,” says Simmons. “He told me that ‘as a camera operator on sitcoms, the quality of his work is only as good as his equipment. Working on shows like Pair of Kings, there is no margin for equipment failure.’ We all agree – Vinten has always been the industry’s best and that’s why we use them.”

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This is the second year that cinematographer Johnny Simmons ASC has been nominated for an Emmy for his work on Pair of Kings. Series operator Ray Gonzales has been nominated for his work on the series as well.

The teen multi-camera sitcom featuring Pair of Kings is the story of a pair of fraternal twins, one white and one black, raised in Chicago who find that they are heirs to the throne of a fictional Polynesian island. It airs on the Disney XD channel.

When Simmons wraps this season of Kings, he will move to a new Disney show, A Dog With A Blog and will pick up Turner Broadcasting’s Men At Work. Simmons will then come back to Kings for the next season later this year. “It goes without saying, on all my shows, Vinten heads and peds are there,” he says.

Johnny Simmons chooses heads and pedestals are made by Vinten, part of Vitec Videocom, a Vitec Group company.

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About Vinten
Vinten® is a global market leader in camera support technology for broadcast professionals and videographers The company’s wide range of equipment enables camera operators to work the way they choose without compromise and includes pan and tilt heads, tripods and pedestals suitable for ENG, EFP, OB and studio environments. Vinten provides the most innovative, intuitive camera support products available by working closely with today’s professionals and understanding their changing needs. Along with other leading brands in the broadcast and videographer industry, Vinten is part of Vitec Videocom, a Vitec Group company. 

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