Local news camera operator, Kieran Tynan deals with breaking news stories and also environmental issues for the BBC in the North West of England.
Day-to-day news stories are wrapped up with time challenges, either unplanned delays or things happening earlier than thought. This makes time the most important currency in his work life and anything that can give him more of it is enthusiastically welcomed.
He uses a Sachtler aktiv12T head with a flowtech100 tripod to handle the ever-changing nature of his news job.
The light weight, yet strong carbon fibre tripod combine with the fast setup aktiv head are perfectly suited to news. “Obviously in terms of weight it’s a big help. In news, you often can’t park right next to an event so any way I can decrease the carry weight and increase portability is great."
“I also shoot environment stories. For those I can be working in farms in and around Cumbria in the hills. So I have to carry the kit quite a distance."
The aktiv12T flowtech system can also take a higher payload while being lighter to carry than my previous system. It makes carrying much less of a chore
The aktiv12T flowtech system fits Kieran’s Sony PWW-X500 with Canon HJ11 Lens ENG camera perfectly. But weight advantage is only one of the benefits. The levelling system is one of Kieran’s favorite aspects.
The aktiv SpeedLevel lever at the front is brilliant. Putting it on and taking it off couldn’t be easier and it takes seconds to do.
Kieran explains why this time is so precious to him. “I could get deployed on a job for a press conference and be told it’s in half an hour and about half an hour’s drive away. Sometimes it’s a case of throw the camera on the head and tripod and start filming. To be able to level in two seconds means the difference between catching something or not."
“There are many occasions where just a few seconds makes a difference. Sometimes we’re told a court case is starting or ending earlier than we thought so getting there to film the arrival or exit gives the reporter something to send back."
aktiv12T features seven steps of drag. “For balance as well, there are up to 17 levels of adjustment. Using these features, I can walk away from the camera without having it locked off. I can have it pointing down to the ground or up to the sky and leave it knowing it won’t carry on tilting backwards for forwards."
“My previous head didn’t have as many friction settings for tilt or balance so there would always be little movements at certain points so I would always have to lock it off."
“There are many reasons you might need to step away from the camera; adjusting a mic on a reporter or a light. It’s good to know the camera will stay exactly where I put it. It helps when you’re panning and tilting and following action, knowing it’s perfectly balanced."
“If it’s top-heavy or back-heavy you sometimes can feel a movement as the camera wants to carry on at the end of its travel. You don’t get that with aktiv. For me I have the perfect balance set for my rig.”
Kieran used to have a Sony F5 camera which was much lighter than his current X500 with a heavy Canon lens. “We sometimes also have an Autocue unit on board when it’s an important breaking news story."
“Add a monitor to that, top light, microphones and maybe a LiveU bonded streaming transmitter and you’ve got a lot of kit to balance and operate. akitiv12T head handle all of that."
“Previously, I would ask the director to hold a monitor as I couldn’t add it to my head but I can now. You’d think the head would be very chunky to handle all that weight, but it’s really not and smaller than my old one.”
aktiv has taken the art of speed levelling to new heights.