Richard Hammond’s Secret Service

Shooting Partners provided a small versatile portable production unit with up to eight remote heads and HD mini cams plus multi-track audio recording systems on the BBC’s prime time, hidden-camera, comedy show Richard Hammond’s Secret Service. The task was to provide a range of camera packages for different types of tricks, including a set of multi-cam stunts, shot at specially-dressed locations, that are the highlight of the show.

The six x 40-minute series was produced by Initial (an Endemol company), and stars Richard Hammond (Top Gear, Total Wipeout) as the head of the Secret Service – a team of highly-trained operatives (actors and comedians) who trick, prank and generally wind-up, unwitting members of the public as they are being secretly recorded.

The HD equipment used on the show was based around Bradley Pan and Tilt cameras plus Sony BRC-H900 Full HD Remote Heads, which have excellent sensitivity much like the Sony EX camera range, plus Panasonic POV HD mini cameras for smaller fixed shots in tighter spaces. Senior Technician James Foreman worked closely with industry experts, such as Dan Greenway, on both the HD mini cams and remote head technologies. For HD recording the option way out in front fo this project was Cinedeck. The challenge being

“On Secret Service, we had no idea of knowing how long a stunt would take unfold. So the crucial thing was the ability to have uninterrupted recording,” says Technical Manager Tony Mawby. “With tape and optical disks we’ve been limited to a maximum of 95 minutes of HD recording, but we realised that was not going to be nearly enough for this type of show.

“What’s more, we knew the stunt locations were going to be physically tight. The space to accommodate dedicated the recording decks we originally thought we were going to use for each of the seven or eight cameras, plus the other monitoring and control equipment, and the crew, was going to be a real squeeze,”

Using the Cinedeck RXs, rather than other recording decks, delivered significant cost-savings. The production company only had to hire four RXs, as opposed to eight VTRs for eight camera shoots. There were no stock costs either, as the SSDs used were ours. Because there were just four RXs to control, the shoot required just one operator, and as material was being sent straight to the post company, there was need for a data wrangler or DIT on-set either. All together, using the RXs amounted to a significant saving across the whole production.

Richard Hammond’s Secret Service is a Initial Production for BBC One

Products featured in this article






Cinedeck Broadcast RX






Sony BRC-H900






Panasonic POVCAM

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