Fixed rig programmes have evolved greatly since the first Big Brother, says Roll to Record’s Mike McGaw

Since the first Big Brother back in 2000 the technology used in fixed rig formats has moved on, production ideas have become more ambitious and the ways in which programmes and spin-offs are delivered were unthinkable back then.

In the last 13 years, Roll to Record has provided the fixed rigs for many shows including numerous series of Big Brother, two series of Magaluf Weekender, and Twofour’s Bafta-award winning 2011 series Educating Essex.

We were pleased to be contracted again by Twofour for Educating Yorkshire.

The decision to shoot this series in HD – funnily enough, coinciding with Big Brother’s move to HD - has been the most significant change to the set-up.

In order to accommodate the new format we made a massive investment in Panasonic remote head cameras - which performed marvelously - and all the necessary routers, cables and ancillary equipment.

Twofour placed great emphasis on ensuring all the students and teachers were comfortable with the filming process, working with them across a number of months.

We complemented this by ensuring the cameras and cables fitted seamlessly into the school environment to cause minimum disruption, for instance painting a number of the cables the same colour as the walls they were rigged on to blend them in, and hiding cables aboveceiling tiles.

The rig team did an excellent job, with great support from the caretakers and cleaners at the school.

Overall the template remained very similar to the original series, though adapted for a different type of building, different power outlets and the opinions and concerns of a different set of people.

This is an absolutely key part of working on this kind of programme: we must try and embed ourselves within the school so that they trust us. We tread very lightly and carefully to ensure that the fabric of building remains

intact. For instance, carefully removing and storing window panes and replacing them with plastic panels so that we could drill holes and feed cables in from outside.

We were also scrupulous about cleaning up after ourselves so as not to make more mess for the cleaning staff. In fact the head teacher and caretakers were amazed at how little disruption there was, both installing and de-

rigging the equipment.

Both sides had an understanding of what needed to be achieved and what the impact may have been; but we never forgot that we were visitors to the school.

The kit

  • NEP HD5 double-expanding HD OB truck
  • 64 cameras made up of: 58 Cameras Panasonic AW-HE50 Cameras; 6 Camera Corps Cue Ball Cameras
  • 22 Radio mics
  • 64 FX mics
  • 14 Km of Cable
  • 1,800 batteries