Guild of Television Cameramen's flying workshop a great success

Practice: 'Flying TV's MD Mike Smith instructs GTC members during the 'Helicopter Shooting & Safety' workshop

The Guild of Television Cameramen's 'Shooting from Helicopters' workshop on March 27, hosted by Mike Smith of Flying TV HD at Denham Aerodrome, was a huge success reports the GTC's Workshop Coordinator Clive North. In addition to Mike and co-host Monica Wyer of Flying TV, the contributors were the GTC's very own experienced aerial cameramen Alan Duxbury, Laurie Gilbert and Rex Palmer. Forty members attended.

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TV work on a Cineflex-equipped Robinson helicopters

Mike Smith commenced the workshop by detailing how helicopters fly, how they are affected by weather and terrain, how cameramen should always work with pilots with aerial filming experience, and safe operating techniques whilst in the air. Loss of tail rotor effectiveness was shown to be the cause of many accidents involving aerial filming. Pilot error was the principal cause of most mishaps. On a more positive note, Mike showed how safe helicopters in fact are and how they provide a unique filming platform.

Mike specialises in TV work from his own Cineflex-equipped Robinson helicopters and champions the use of such gimbal-mounts for rock-steady aerial work.Alan Duxbury gave a detailed account of the circumstances surrounding a near-fatal low-level crash he was involved in whilst filming for a Ray Mears programme in the US and of his legal battle to obtain compensation.

Rex Palmer was able to show a chilling video clip of the occasion when the helicopter he was filming from cartwheeled into a Middlesex lake after a skid clipped the surface of the water.

Live via a video link set up by Vislink

Rex Palmer was able to show a chilling video clip of the occasion when the helicopter he was filming from cartwheeled into a Middlesex lake after a skid clipped the surface of the water.

Laurie Gilbert's contribution, given by Rex Palmer, was a detailed account of how to rig a helicopter safely for open-door filming, how to obtain steady hand-held pictures, and the use of aerial mounts.

Two members, Max Hodgetts and Phil Nixon, won the opportunity to fly with an instructor on a 'Hover Challenge' which culminated with them attempting to hold a manhole cover central in the view of the aircraft's Cineflex camera whilst flying a 360 degree orbit around it. The cameramen's actions were relayed live via a video link set up by Vislink technicians for the event.

Oliver Ward of Helicopter Film Services also introduced GTC members to the large Wescam gimbals housing ARRI 35 mm cameras and a 24 HD system.

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About the Guild of Television Cameramen

Unlike most other organisations, the GTC offers its members the chance to attend workshops of this high standard on a regular basis completely free as part of the membership subscription.

Full GTC membership (£65 per annum) is available to cameramen with at least three years of experience at an established grade in any branch of professional television. Associate membership (£40 per annum) is available to individuals who operate cameras in any branch of professional television but have less than three years of full-time experience. Affiliate membership (£65 per annum) is available to individuals ineligible for any other grade of membership but who would, at the discretion of the GTC, further or promote the GTC's objectives. Applications for this grade must be supported by the sponsoring signatures of two full GTC members. Student membership (£20 per annum) is open to individuals attending a full or part time course recognised by the GTC as being appropriate. Retired membership is available to former cameramen at £30 per annum.

Formed in 1972, the Guild of Television Cameramen has over 1,000 members in countries as far afield as Australia, Russia, Singapore, South Africa and the USA. The majority work in aspects of television ranging from corporate video production through news and current-affairs, sports and light entertainment, to documentary and drama. The GTC is a non-profit-making organisation run by a council of volunteer television professionals. It is financed by subscription from its members as well as sponsorship from equipment manufacturers and suppliers. As a result, the GTC offers a channel for manufacturers to consult with working cameramen when designing new equipment. The GTC is an authoritative source of advice and information on all matters concerning television content production. Its aim is to preserve the professional status of television cameramen and to advance standards and expertise within the profession.

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