Derren Brown’s Apocalypse, a two parter from Objective Productions for Channel 4, used 50 Camera Corps Q-Ball robotic heads for a shoot that took place across 400 hectares at a former US Air Force base in East Anglia.


Working with Neon Broadcast Services, Camera Corps provided around 50 of the  remote camera systems for the latest Derren Brown production, where Brown attempts to convince a man that it is the end of the world. The show aired on Channel 4 last week. 


Last year’s production of Derren Brown’s The Guilt Trip used 22 of the robotic cameras, mounted in various parts of a stately home. Apocalypse was on a bigger scale, requiring 47 Q-Ball heads positioned in multiple locations. All of the Q-Ball cameras were operated by a four-strong Camera Corps team, each using a joystick steering unit and a remote control panel to ensure accurate colour matching. 


“The production area of more than 400 hectares presented interesting challenges in terms of cable runs, some of which were well beyond the safe limits for HD-SDI over copper," says Camera Corps’ equipment manager Neil Ashworth."We installed 11 of our new Simply SMPTE hybrid electro-optical links which can operate over five kilometres or more, allowing us to run feeds from aircraft hangers, bunkers, barracks and other former military buildings into the main control room."


Neon Broadcast’s managing director Colin Vinten says: "The Q-Ball heads are much more compact than traditional robotic cameras and deliver excellent high-definition images over a wide range of lighting conditions. Their pan, tilt and zoom drives are extremely quiet and allow very precise control so can be used for in-vision tracking shots without risk of distracting the participants.”


The Q-Ball is an ultra-compact remotely-controlled camera with integral 10x zoom optical lens and smooth-accelerating pan/tilt motors, housed in a robust and fully-weatherproof 115 mm diameter aluminium sphere.


First used for the Euro 2012 football tournaments, 2012 Wimbledon tennis and the Summer Games in London, Camera Corps’ Simply SMPTE compact remote link consists of a base unit and remote unit. Powered by 110 or 240 volts AC, the 303 x 165 x 65 millimetre 3.63 kilogramme base unit has an optical input for incoming video data. Electrical inputs allow direct connection of analog genlock video and audio-frequency control data. A loop-through connector is provided for the control data channel. Incoming video from the remote camera is accessible via two HD-SDI outputs.


Pippa Considine

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