GTC Chairman Brian Rose introduced the GTC Awards 2008 at the BFI, Southbank, London:
Good evening ladies and gentlemen …
Humpty Dumpty famously said "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less." No truer is this today than it is of the word ‘Television’.
Maybe it’s no coincidence that the same year (1933) saw both the British Film Institute receiving Royal Assent and the government giving the BBC permission to inaugurate what was then called, an ‘experimental’ television service. Much has happened since then. Some of it good, some of it - it has to be said - not so good.
In a world of mediocrity – of wall to wall quiz shows and so-called ‘reality’ TV, of instant celebrities; it is sometimes difficult to see those rare golden islands of excellence in the slough of despond that has become modern-day television. But that is what we are going to see tonight, meritocracy rather than mediocrity.
Some programmes shine; and they shine thanks to the talent and skill of the cameramen involved. Indeed, it was for that very reason; to maintain high standards; that the Guild was first formed.
It’s all too easy in these days of uncertainty to look only on the dark side of life. Producers who are determined to shoot themselves; ever diminishing budgets; yet more staff cuts; diminishing quality; predictions of the death of television itself. We can sometimes wonder exactly what there is to celebrate.
And yet, and yet, I would suggest that things are not quite so dark. Television is no longer just ‘broadcast’ television. There are more and more new opportunities out there: HDTV; sell-through video; video on demand; mobile phones; the internet; digital cinema; corporate vision; and (if you travelled here by train), digital signage.
So looking to the future. Who is going to supply all those pictures? If not us, then who. As professional television cameramen, we have the skills, we have the craft, we have the creativity.
The Guild was formed back in 1972; to foster and maintain those skills. I hope that by the time the night’s out, you will agree with me that it was all worthwhile.
To present the Awards tonight, will you please welcome our founder member, without whose vision the GTC would have never existed, please give a warm welcome to the first Chairman of the Guild, Dick Hibberd …
Since its inception drama has always been a mainstay of broadcast television. It’s an area in which we, in the UK seem to excel and certainly all the nominations for this category did just that:
The nominations for drama were:
The Long Walk to Finchley
Camera: John Jonasus
Lark Rise to Candleford
Nick Beeks-Sanders for camera operation
DoP Ben Smithard and Camera Operator Roger Pierce
Skins II Episode 3
Foyles War – All Clear May 1945
DoP: James Aspinall
The camera operation throughout the series of Lark Rise to Candleford was quite rhapsodic; totally in sympathy with both the subject and the lighting. The superb compositions held everything together, combining both beauty and style without once being intrusive.
Entertainment is another one of the famous triumvirate of public broadcast television that we were talking of earlier. Interestingly, all the Nominations had either a wildlife theme, or were thereto inform. Again, the judges had a difficult time finding a winner among so many excellently shot programmes.
The nominations were:
Animal Park – Series 7 Episode 1
Tom Hayward and Hugh Hughes
Chinese Food Made Easy Episode 1
Time Team: Jamestown; America’s Birthplace
The winner is Scott Tibbles for Springwatch Spectacular
Wildlife is one of the most rewarding but also one of the most difficult camera crafts to master. These days, it’s not just a case of finding your subject, you have to do so much more. A programme like Springwatch Spectacular has to bring out the charm, the excitement and the sheer beauty of the animals you’re filming and that’s something that Scott manages to do time and time again.
Scott can’t be with us tonight as he’s currently shooting on Big Cat Live in the Masai Mara. However, earlier this afternoon, we were able to get in touch with him, on location in Kenya.
Taking things to the extreme has always thrilled audiences. Such programmes can take us to those places, we would rather not go. They can put us in circumstances that we would rather not be. Or they can confront us with animals we would rather not meet.
They are shot by cameramen who are willing to take risks, to suffer discomfort, to be at the edge, so that we, in the comfort of our living rooms, can live life to the extreme.
Again, every one of them displayed outstanding camera skills under the most arduous of conditions.
Rather them, than me!
The nominations were:
The Sharkman – Great White
Andrew ThompsonRoss Kemp in Afghanistan
The Tribe – Nenets
Now, you are of a nervous disposition – please close your eyes now!
Morné couldn’t be here to receive the Award himself as he’s in South Africa. So could I ask the Awards Organiser, John Tarby to collect it on his behalf?
Factual televison (real factual television) has always been very much part of the remit of public broadcasting. Indeed, it remains part of the famous triumvirate to “Inform, Educate and Entertain”
The judges really had their work cut out to select the work on just one production – everything in this category was quite outstanding:
The nominees were:
Tashi Wanggyal, Tsering Dorje and Sun Shaodon
A Year in Tibet – The Visit
Michael Palin – New Europe Episode 1
Cutting Edge: My StreetC4
Dan Cruikshank’s Adventures on Architecture – Beauty
The War of the World – The Plan
Russia; A Journey with Jonathon Dimbleby
Jews – Episode 1
Normandy Veterans Package, BBC Look North
Well, we could only choose one. The camera work throughout Dan Cruikshank’s Adventures on Architecture – Beauty was just that, beautiful; capturing the subject and showing it in the best possible way. You can be there, you can see it, but you can’t always capture it at its best for an audience; which is exactly what Mike Garner managed to do.
The Awards Committee felt that there was only one production that truly met all the criteria for Innovation. We were looking for new ways and techniques to use cameras – something that went just that much further. Let’s take a look.
The winner of the Innovation Award is the Camera Crew on Tiger – Spy in the Jungle. Cameraman: Michael Richards; Special Camera Systems: Geoffrey Bell; and John Downer.
The team have constantly taken wildlife filming further and further, not only entertaining, informing and thrilling audiences throughout the world, but revealing entirely new information about animal behaviour. Their work is truly pioneering.
Unfortunately, both Mike and Geoff are away in India filming but here to accept the award is the director and Innovator, John Downer.
When the Guild was first formed, most of its members worked in a multi-camera environment; either in OBs or in the studio. Changes in technology and programme content have forced some to believe that it is a craft, under threat. But if the programmes that were nominated in this category are to be an example, this is far from true.
Indeed, all the nominations demonstrated superb camera skills – all on live programmes.
The nominations were:
The camera crew
Strictly Come Dancing live final
Simon Tyres – Camera supervisor
X-Factor live final
Camera supervisors: James Day, Neil McLintock and Andy Parr
Camera supervisor: Paul Freeman
Dancing on Ice live final
The winner of the Multi-Camera Award is the camera crew on Liverpool Nativity.
This was a live music broadcast of startling complexity, multiple venues across Liverpool, keeping the music in sync, complex communications and camera control and cuing, all working seamlessly on the night. It’s an example of what can happen when a large technical crew work in such close co-operation.
To receive the award: Camera supervisor, James Day
But there was also one person who, the Awards Committee felt made a very special contribution. Following Joseph and Mary throughout the city of Liverpool, the Steadicam camerawork was particularly outstanding. We are delighted to present this extra Award for Excellence to Steadicam operator, Mark Faulkner.
Dave Taylor has been a camera supervisor at BBC OBs for many years, based out of Manchester. He recently semi-retired but we understand that he is on a part-time contract with what is now SIS OBs.
Some say that he can have a gruff personality at times and a difficult-to-fathom sense of humour.
Most who have worked with him say that he is always the consummate professional camera supervisor, and indeed, cameraman (we’re lucky to have him here as he’s just been working on the golf.)
He is extremely hard working, he is always on top of things and he always thinks ahead. He cares deeply about the job and his crew, and has always endeavoured to support new recruits.
He is also particularly good at giving a second chance to cameramen whom others have been a little too quick to write off. Second chances rarely happen on OBs!
Despite all this, he remains a modest and extremely likeable man, well worthy of our highest honour.
Above all, he is a cameraman’s cameraman.
The winner of this year’s Television Cameraman’s Award is Dave Taylor.
VINTEN VECTOR 950
It’s important to understand that the Seal of Approval is given by working cameramen to a particular piece of equipment that they feel had contributed to their craft.
There have been times when no such Award was either nominated or indeed awarded but this year, we have two.
Unless you’re hand holding (something not really to be recommended if you’re on a 100:1 zoom, then a really good head is essential. It should not only support camera and lens over a wide range of tilt angles, but has to run smoothly and be comfortable and pleasant to use over very long periods.
The Vector 950 heavyweight panning head was nominated because – in the opinion of the cameramen who use it - Vinten have managed to deliver the feel and balance of the Vector range, with their excellent 'perfect balance' system in a more compact and lightweight up-and-over design. There are also lots of small attentions to detail, such as the truly excellent balancing control.
As one highly experience OB cameraman said. “It is, quite simply, the best large panning head I have ever used.”
To receive the Seal of Approval, please welcome the two design engineers responsible for the Vector 950, Andy Murrow and Jo Torbitt.
P+S PRO35 Image Converter
The P+S Pro35 35mm Adapter was the first successful adapter that allowed cameramen shooting on 2/3” cameras to use 35mm film lenses, replicating exactly the same field-of-view and depth of field as 35mm film.
It does this by using a ground glass that oscillates at a frequency that reduces grain to an acceptable level. Other optical converters were simply relays that reduced the effective image size but did not allow for the shallow depth of field associated with 35mm film cameras. Some also inverted the image, adding the need for extra circuitry or processing.
Whilst there are now cameras available that use a 1” chip (the same size as 35mm film) these tend to be both rare and expensive when compared with 2/3” HD cameras. The Pro35 has allowed far more creativity for cameramen working on drama, commercials and documentaries, as well as for feature films shot on HDTV.
And so we come to our final Award the GTC Honorary Fellowship. This is given to a person who, in the opinion of the Guild, has made an outstanding contribution to its aims.
For the last several years, the recipient has steered the GTC with a perfectly balanced mixture of firmness and modesty. As the GTC Chairman, he has seen the Guild grow in stature and has managed to steer it over that period despite all the storms that have been battering our industry.
He was, in fact, one of its founder members and over those many years, has held the Guild close to his heart. Always willing to hear problems (and offer solutions) always willing to support others; he has made an outstanding contribution to the wellbeing not only of the GTC but of the television industry as a whole.
It therefore gives me great pleasure to announce that the recipient of the GTC’s Honorary Fellowship is Dave Ballantyne.