As a UK first, remotely-operated cameras have been placed inside a British criminal court to capture a criminal trial in its entirety.
Broadcast on Channel 4, Windfall Films’ feature-length film explores the process of justice in a Scottish High Court like never before, using five Panasonic AW-HE120 remote cameras to document the case of Nat Fraser, a man accused of murdering his wife.
The shoot was undertaken without additional lighting so low light performance was a key requirement. So as not to interfere with the normal day-to-day running of the court, the crew required small, unobtrusive cameras that could run silently.
“Initially the crew considered using ball-type camera heads,” says Nick McLachlan, MD of specialist hire company Minicams. “Unfortunately, most popular models are based on the Sony FCB-H11 camera module which is limited to 10x optical zoom lens and performs at its best in well-lit environments. Because of these factors, we suggested that the crew go down the Panasonic PTZ route.”
On Minicams’ advice, Panasonic 3MOS AW-HE120 cameras were used to film the documentary, remotely controlled using serial RS 422. Compact, quiet and with a built-in 20x zoom, they were positioned discreetly throughout the court and delivered excellent picture quality. The wide range of angles and focal distances, the pan-tilt flexibility and the 20x zoom lens contributed to the extraordinary footage seen in the film. Their silent operation and inconspicuous form factor meant that there was no disruption to the proceedings of the courtroom.
“When filming The Murder Trial it was vital to use equipment that would not intimidate or inhibit those involved in the case. We needed equipment that was discreet and operated remotely from outside the courtroom. The quiet and compact design of the Panasonic AW-HE120’s allowed us to capture compelling footage whilst remaining unobtrusive” said Gillian Goodlet, Production Manager at Windfall Films West.
Also used during the production of the documentary were the AW-HS400 video switcher, AW-RP50 camera control unit and AW-HCK10 camera head coupled with the AW-HMR10 portable memory card recorder.