October 28, 2011

Demolition crew gives it his best shot

An impressive tracking shot of an exploding building won Guild of Television Cameramen member Michael Brennan the Best Risk Shot category at the Golden Eye 2011 International Festival of Movie and TV Cameramen, held in Batumi, Georgia.

The low-angle slow-motion shot of a large building imploding, for Demolition, a documentary series for LWT and Discovery, was captured at 500 frames per second using a film camera built into a bomb-proof case.

Although the case was made of laminated steel with an internal frame and ten millimetre polycarbonate front cover, even the strongest of boxes would be crushed under the thousands of tons of rubble which fell onto it.

Brennan (pictured above) came up with his own explosive way to pull the camera out of harm’s way while allowing it to capture the explosion, without it being damaged or buried under rubble. He organised a track, made of scaffolding tubes and purpose-built crossbars, secured to the ground with 30cm spikes. The dolly was powered by bungee cords, like a huge bow and arrow, triggered by two separate explosive charges attached to a tether. The dolly and payload weighed 120kg and ran at 51kph for 46 metres.

"Full credit is due to Director Michelle Carlisle for sticking with my idea of tracking a camera from the base of the building as the building fell, and to my camera-assistant Johann Perry and Controlled Demolition,” said Brennan, who is based in Melbourne and London.

“The shot was in the back of my mind after I had successfully captured numerous implosions with cameras in innovative angles inside and on top of buildings - and I still have a few tricks up my sleeve for more interesting angles," he said.

The GTC is an independent non-profit-making international organisation that cares about TV camerawork and the people who make it their craft., with more than 1,000 members worldwide, in Europe, Australia, Russia, Singapore, South Africa and the USA.

By David Fox

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