Charles Lagus was the BBC’s first natural history cameraman, working with Sir David Attenborough on the broadcaster’s initial nature series. Sir David recalls: “We simply disappeared for four to six months at a time, armed with nothing more than a couple of letters of introduction and our pockets stuffed with dollar bills. It was just the two of us; we didn’t have a director until about 15 years later!” The work they did together laid the foundations for the extraordinary archive of BBC wildlife programmes that would follow.
At the age of just 24 GTC member Holly Bantleman founded the charity Raise the Roof Kenya to increase awareness and funding for some of the poorest people on the African Continent, in particular young people. The primary aim of the charity is to give these young people a sustainable future through establishing community projects that encompass both training and sports facilities.
Holly has managed to do all this while holiding down a staff job in the UK with Telegenic where she works as a 3D technician. The GTC supports Raise the Roof Kenya and was pleased to recognise Holly's extraordinary achievement.
The GTC’s Seal of Approval for an innovative piece of equipment was this year awarded to the Sony HDVF-EL75 studio colour viewfinder, praised for its contrast ratio of more than 1,000,000:1, efficient power consumption, wide viewing angle and extremely fast response time, making it possible to focus on fast moving targets with a colour viewfinder.
Paul Kirsop and Balazs Bolygo: Hunted, Kudos for the BBC1
The year 2012 saw some very exciting drama productions and none more so than the very stylishly shot Hunted made by Kudos and transmitted on BBC1. DoP Balazs Bolygo collected the Award.
Cold Chain Mission with Ewan McGregor covered the route that vaccinations take to reach populations in some of the most remote parts of the world and was transmitted on BBC2 in April.The voting panel made particular mention of the wide range of cameras used to capture the pace and excitement of this demanding journey.
Later with Jools Holland is now, remarkably, in its 42nd series and has consistently delighted viewers with its stylish camerawork, which never detracts from the music but instead enhances the performances of a wide range of artistes. Now transmitting from its new home at Maidstone Studios, the standard of this programme remains consistently high, and it is this consistency that the GTC voting panel was delighted to acknowledge with an Award for Excellence. The award was collected on behalf of the whole crew by senior cameramen Eric Metcalfe and Gerry Tivers.
The drama Restless, shown just after Christmas on BBC1, mixed period atmosphere at the time of the Second World War with recreations of exciting wartime sequences. The voting panel made particular mention of the inventive crane shots and beautifully lit interiors.
Occasionally an episode of a long-running series jumps out at the viewer either because of the content or due to the way it has been shot. Grand Designs - The Watertower, which doucmented the conversion of a tower in South London, had both: a fascinating subject calling for a wide range of different cameras and devices to capture an array of memorable shots. Tony Etwell has shot many episodes of this series over eleven years and this episode was one of the best in a consistently high-quality series.
News coverage has developed immeasurably as smaller cameras and recording devices have enabled cameramen and correspondents to get into the thick of the action in areas of world conflict never previously considered. But what of the human misery behind these pictures of frontline misery? Atma Refugee Camp, a news item from Syria for the BBC used beautiful cinematography to bring home to the viewer the suffering of a nation. The award was collected on Fred Scott's behalf by RTS-Award winning news cameraman Ian Young as Fred had been called away to cover a story.
This was a very innovative and up-tempo commercial for Weightwatchers, transmitted on Channel 4 at the beginning of the year. It used a single shot that progressed through a multitude of different locations, including underwater in a swimming pool, lip-dub style (although the panel thought they detected one very clever edit). It shows how very careful planning and execution of camerawork can enhance even the most straightforward marketing message. Watch the video, which was made by Academy Films.
Concerts regularly make great viewing and such a media-aware group as Coldplay rarely fail to excite audiences. The coverage of their MX tour shown just after Christmas on BBC1 included both inventive camera angles and mixed B/W reportage sections, plus spectacular venue coverage from the concert at the Stade de France in Paris. The programme offered brilliant coverage that never faltered over the 50-minute TV edit. Nat Hill couldn't be at the presentation because of a family wedding but the award was collected on his behalf by Dave Emery who was part of Nat’s cew for the Coldplay DVD and has also been doing exceptional music jib work on the Jonathan Ross and Alan Carr chat shows.
We have all heard of the Great Train Robbery but rarely has the subject been tackled so stylishly as in in Mrs Biggs, a drama featuring Sheridan Smith as the famous bank robber's wife. The story was recreated with great atmosphere and – as the nomination states – the series was a pleasure to watch.
Heroes of the Skies - Wingwalker, shown on C5 in October, was another production with a historical theme that mixed original library footage, recreated historical scenes and clever model shots. The voting panel wanted to make special mention of the way in which the range of styles of production values and camerawork greatly enhanced the viewers' enjoyment of a fascinating and exciting time in our history. Unfortunately Marcus could not be there to collect the Award.
We have all enjoyed Michael Palin’s travels over many years and Nigel Meakin – now also with his son Peter as part of the team – has been identified with these productions over many series. At some points in the series, shots have to be grabbed in extreme circumstances and, on others, the hand of the experienced cameraman shines through. Palin’s latest series in Brazil demonstrates all this... A thoroughly enjoyable example of how travelogue programmes can still inspire and entertain. Peter Meakin was present to collect the Award.
Minicams and GoPros have brought shots previously unimaginable and a fine example of this was seen on New Year's Eve on BBC HD in Earthflight. The programme featured specially trained birds, latest techniques, fine panoramic and long-lens work to produce a beautifully crafted and innovative production. The Award went to Christian and Paola Moullec and microlight-flying cameraman Richard Cook for their stunning images and inventive photography. Richard drove down from Scotland to receive the Award.
The voting panel all acknowledged they were a group of railway programme enthusiasts! However, that said, Great Continental Railway Journeys pushed the barriers of what you would expect in a standard travelogue. Interesting angles in carriages, excellent long-lens work outside the trains, and being brave enough to sit on a static two-shot to allow the viewer to eavesdrop on interesting conversations all succeeded. The voting panel were unanimous in giving an Award to cameraman/director Dave Minchin for the episode in Switzerland.
This was a second Award in the evening for Jonathan Young - possibly an unprecedented feat in GTC Awards history! This time Jonathan was by the Indian Ocean in Somalia withe presenter Simon Reeve, with a harrowing story and in a very dangerous environment. Once again, fantastic camerawork in the most difficult of conditions.
On this spectacular historic event, the whole crew performed with absolute skill showcasing to the world the professionalism and artistry of TV cameramen. This feat was all under the leadership of Barrie Dodd, who was involved in the planning throughout months in the run-up to the event. This surely must have been the pinnacle of an already remarkable career.
The GTC was delighted to acknowledge the most exceptional contribution to our profession that this production offered. The final Award for Excellence 2013 went to the entire Olympics Opening Ceremony Crew under the leadership of Barrie Dodd.
The panel of judges for the GTC Awards 2013 was made up of industry professionals under the chairmanship of David G. Croft, Head of the TV Faculty at the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield. The panel comprised: Lighting Director Martin Hawkins; Multi-camera Supervisor Nat Hill; last year’s GTC stills photography competition winner Russell Cameron; while the GTC was represented by Chair Keith Massey; GTC Awards clips editor John Rossetti; Education Officer Drew Hartley; and the GTC Awards Officer Chris Owen, Head of Cameras at The London Studios.