Thialf speed skating events utilise Motion Impossible’s Agito
The Agito modular dolly system has been used extensively on recent speed skating events at Thialf ice arena in Heerenveen, the Netherlands.
Eurogrip used the system during this month’s World Cup, as well as the World Championships in February and the European Championship in January, and believes it has come into its own for broadcast work in the current production environments necessitated by the COVID pandemic.
“Since COVID came everyone wants to have the Agito,” according to Jeroen De Haan, Agito operator at Eurogrip. “For speed skating, we have a speaker mounted on the Agito so that we can conduct COVID-safe interviews. That means we can drive up to a speed skater and ask how the race was today, so no one gets in contact with the athlete and breaks any bio-secure bubbles.”
That though is just the start of the way the Agito is used on Thialf’s large oval and its 400m track.
“We have different jobs on the speed skating,” explained De Haan. “We have an interview set and between interviews we do some tracking race shots following the athletes. We also do wide-angle beauty shots of the venue. Beforehand we would use three cameras for that; now we just use the one and drive it rapidly between the different positions. The Agito is like having three cameras in one.
“Because it’s so stable, you can hit a bump and you don’t see anything on the screen, especially as we’re using the Shotover gimbal. It’s just pedal to the metal and go.”
As well as quick set up, which he puts at around half an hour from opening the flight cases, De Haan also praised the unit’s four-wheel steering.
“Four-wheel steering enables really short turns,” he said. “This is invaluable in cramped positions when you can have different TV lights around you.”
Usually, the vehicle’s standard all-terrain tyres are fine for getting around the arena, as the genuine ice is confined to the two-lane track and the warm up lane. For promo shots at the start of the season, however, Eurogrip put spikes on the Agito and sent it out onto the ice itself.
“The spikes meant that we could go full throttle with the Agito, even into the corners,” enthused De Haan. “That was awesome.”
De Haan hopes to see much more of the Agito in the future and concluded: “I think this kind of camera tracking is just the beginning of something great. I love technology so let’s exploit it!”