Graham Horder talks about being a Wildlife Cameraman and the Sony PlayStation.
Years ago I thought I knew what being a wildlife cameraman meant. At that time I didn’t think it would have anything to do with playing computer games. What did I know? The future will always surprise you.
Quite a while ago I played a couple of PlayStation games: Lara Croft in Tomb Raider was one of them and the other was some kind of space age racing game. I would never recommend the latter as a means of learning to drive because you’d die of horrible injuries within a few minutes at most. If you did anything that Lara Croft did you’d die of horrible injuries within a few minutes at most. Spot the pattern or pay the consequences. I don’t enjoy computer games – they’re too addictive and I’d rather play outdoors courting real death. But here I am a couple of decades later writing ‘Wildlife Cameraman and the Sony PlayStation.’
the ‘conventional’ wildlife cameraman
It’s possible to be a wildlife cameraman and adopt the following manner of working almost all of the time – one hand on the tripod handle and the other on the lens. This tried and trusted method does not involve a technological interface unless you have a robotic arm. It has worked for years and years. However you cannot use that method for everything, and the moment you place the camera on a motorised head or track, a cable dolly, drone or jib you will not be able to put your hands anywhere, except on a remote control.
all hail the remote controller
I’ve used many remote control devices for cameras and camera heads. Recently I worked with a PlayStation controller for the first time in years and I learned a lesson – sometimes there’s nothing wrong with a misspent youth. If I had spent a little more time with Lara I would have been a better wildlife cameraman for it. At first I spent some time fumbling about with triangles, circles crosses and squares. And I was annoyed by how many times I accidentally pressed the button that started the whole unit vibrating. Yes, it was a learning curve, and necessarily a quick one.
We used the Red with an iFootage Shark Slider S1 and an eMotimo ST4 Pro kit. The PlayStation controller is part of the ST4 kit and comes with the Pro version. You can use the controller to operate focus, moves along the track, and pan and tilt of the head. You can programme all of these movements and you can see the readouts on the eMotimo display. Overall I am very impressed with this kit and for the price it is a bargain. When we used it in conjunction with a probe lens some of the shots were simply stunning. Unfortunately I can’t show you any because of NDA and all that.
being a wildlife cameraman
If you want to be a wildlife cameraman I recommend that you play some computer games and have a bit of fun at the same time. Learn how to use helpful telephone apps and the different remote control devices. You will not need them every day, or maybe ever, but one day someone will shout, ‘Help! How do I do this?’ And you will know.