We recently acquired a new cable cam system to complement our drone aerials, and also to provide a whole new dimension on subjects that we would have been unable to cover before. We have produced a BTS video, but I wanted to go into a bit more detail on a few of the points mentioned in the video (we try to make our BTS series concise and exciting, and tone down the geeking out over cameras/equipment!). If you want to see more of our cable cam services, check them out here.
Setting up the cable cam system and rigging
The first challenge when we got the cable cam was working out how to rig it safely and securely. To get smooth, stable footage the rope which the dolly runs on needs to be tensioned with a lot of force, which we quickly discovered needed some quite elaborate ropework! Through testing the system in a number of different locations we devised a system that allowed us to bring the tensioning systems down to ground level in a lot of cases. This allows for easy adjustment of the system, while also being safer to set up (less time spent at height)
This approach heavily draws upon on some of the specialist skills that we have within our team – the rope system (pig rig for anyone that knows ropework) used to initially tension and position the line is more often used by swiftwater rescue teams for moving objects against powerful flows of water.
Once we nailed down the rigging, we moved on to how to control and view the live video feed from the camera. For camera control, we settled on the Air Commander system. This magic box of tricks allows us to have full control of a Sony A7x series cameras, at ranges of up to 1500 meters. Nothing else on the market comes close to the capabilities of this, and as an added bonus it allows for powering the camera from a D-Tap port, which is particularly useful given the fast rate of battery consumption on these cameras. For a video downlink, we went with the Paralinx Ace. This is a small, super lightweight video transmitter that gives us a very decent range (100m) for a good price. While there are systems that are able to transmit further, the price increases exponentially!
Our thoughts after using the system
We have used the system in a number of different locations now. These range from a central London festival through to backwoods near Nottingham! The system produces really amazing footage that is quite unique – you cannot get it in any other way. Flowing shots through trees and over crowds are just not possible with a drone.
One really nice feature of this system is that it is super flexible – so long as the payload is less than 15kg it can carry pretty much anything, with a little bit of work to adapt it to the mounting plate! We could fly broadcast cameras, Alexa mini’s – you name it it is possible. These types of large cameras could also be flown for far longer than would be possible with a heavy lift drone – the batteries have an endurance of over 90 minutes, even when going at over 50kmph.
Our only main limit for how long a run can be is the video transmission system – with a suitably powerful system we could run the cable out to around 1000 meters!
We are super excited about the possibilities that this new cable cam unlocks, and can’t wait to get it out there on projects around the UK. If you are interest about the cable cam, or just fancy a chat about cameras, drop us a line.