The Catch | Blast! Films | Channel 4
Installing a fixed rig on a fishing boat is perhaps the most demanding project conceivable. The challenges are endless: 40ft seas dislodging equipment and shaking cameras; cramped working conditions; no secure power; a steel hull interfering with wireless signals and freezing temperatures in the fish rooms – let alone the risk of seawater and driving rain drenching the kit.
The Catch is one of the most ambitious and extreme documentaries undertaken for television. Our brief was to install 20 HD cameras on a boat, 10 of which were to be mounted externally to capture the full drama of North Sea fishing. Six radio microphones worn by the contributors would be supplemented by four ambient mics placed on the deck.
Space was a real problem. Minicams miniaturised its production unit by embedding full camera control into a single easy-to-operate system controller. The MICRO-RIGTM was used, to house signal routers, special low-profile racks wireless audio equipment, a tapeless four-channel recorder and switching equipment. These were installed in the wheel house and a production gallery was built in the stern of the boat, with all controls and monitoring routed to this position.
To guarantee a reliable power source, Minicams custom-built an always-on UPS, capable of powering the video system continuously for seven hours in the event of a major failure on the boat. The technical team implemented a safe-power low-voltage distribution system to keep cameras rolling in all weather.
These safeguards proved vital as the boat suffered complete electrical power failure on one of the trips. With the main lights out and the crew relying on dim emergency lighting, the team was able to keep filming.
From the development of new weatherproof camera housings and waterproof microphones to the installation of a custom-designed antenna combiner system to boost the diversity audio receivers, the project called on all of Minicams’ skill and experience. The end result was a rig that captured never-seen-before images even when the power failed.