TV: Running camera gives a true feeling of the speed

Today, a running cameraman is a must for high-quality TV production in orienteering. The running camera brings a true feeling of the runner’s speed and demonstrates the difficulty of the terrain.
– It gives the viewer a kind of insider look, something you can´t get when you watch other sports such as football or ice hockey, says Karel Jonak, TV producer responsible for the broadcasts from the World Orienteering  Championships (WOC) since 2016 and also in 2019. For a long time now he has been deeply involved in the development of orienteering on TV.

– A running camera was just a dream some years ago. When small GoPro cameras first became available, there were always problems with the small and lightweight transmitters. Nowadays we have a good technological solution: a wireless zone is built up in the area and linked by a fibre cable to the production van at the arena. If a good 4G network is available it can be used, but our own network is the most secure way of sending the pictures from the course, says Jonak.
The gimbal, a pivoted support for a handheld camera, has improved a lot in recent years. In 2015 the cameraman had to hold the camera in the hand, then in 2016 a simple gimbal was used, and since 2017 a better gimbal has worked well.
– Now the gimbals can handle rough conditions, so you don´t need to worry about anything else than staying on your legs. It isn´t always easy, running in difficult terrain with a one-kilogram camera in your hand, says Carl Magnusson, who has been a running cameraman at the recent WOCs.

Imagine following Maja Alm!
Even though the technique is getting better and better, there are still challenges in using a running cameraman.
– First of all you must have a good runner. Imagine you have to follow runners like Daniel Hubmann, Jonas Leandersson, Tove Alexandersson or Maja Alm 40 times during a Sprint or a Long Distance race. That is not
easy, says Karel Jonak.
Another aspect is the terrain. The signal works best in open areas, not in tiny streets of big towns or in deep forests. It means a lot of tuning, repositioning of antennas and pulling the cables to better positions before and during the races.
– And you must have a good orienteer in your team to be able to anticipate route choices. If you don’t, the antennas will cover the wrong area, says Jonak.

Read full article in Orienteering World 2018