999: What’s Your Emergency? (Series 4)

Having filmed the previous series of 999 What’s Your Emergency? for Blast Films, The Complete Camera Company were really happy to team up with them again to facilitate this fast-paced fixed rig documentary. This show is so popular with its Channel 4 viewers and is such an exciting project to shoot given the wide range of content.

Blast Films and Channel 4 were delighted with both the quality of the footage and the success of the 3rd series which meant that we were able to use exactly the same system in order to rig the emergency vehicles. Blast chose to shoot the 4th series in Wiltshire, following 12 different vehicles. We reached the decision to use 36 cameras, spread evenly across the different teams, which included regular patrol cars, traffic police cars and ambulances.

One of the new challenges The CCC faced this series was the Fire Engine. This was the first time 999 What’s Your Emergency? was going to cover the fire service as well, so we rigged 4 Toshiba IK-HD5 cameras in the fire engine; 2 in the front and 2 in the back. These cameras are ideal for this situation due to their extremely small size and fantastic optics. They can also handle the contrast between interior and exterior light levels incredibly well, meaning they are perfect for an in-car application.

CCC Director Ben Hoffmann, along with a variety of technicians, went on numerous recce’s in order to examine the various emergency vehicles they would need to rig the remote cameras in. Each emergency department has their own vehicles laid out in different ways, so we needed to make sure that each one had its own specific technical plan. This was to make sure the equipment could be efficiently and reliably built into the vehicle without hindering the work of the team using it.

As in Series 3 each vehicle had a Producer/Director who travelled in the vehicle to each location, and The CCC provided a centrally located mini-cams technician to handle any on site technical issues for the PD’s. The technician’s needed to be on site for 24 hours a day so that every incident could be filmed irrespective of the time it occurred, so 2 technicians worked throughout the shoot on 12 hour shifts.

The Complete Camera Company crew rigged 999 What’s Your Emergency over a period of 7 days with 3 members of crew. One of the biggest challenges during the rig was waiting for vehicle availability as each vehicle had to be off the road for at least half a day in order for the rig to be completed. This meant that we had to rig as efficiently as possible as soon as each car was made available to us and we needed to be able to rig two vehicles at the same time on some occasions.

The great thing about shooting a series again is the opportunity it provides to make improvements. Although we were all very happy with the outcome last year, we knew that this series we were keen to make any changes that could enhance the running of the shoot. One of these was the Perspex sheets we used to protect the kit in the back of the cars. On series 3 these were a last minute addition and the kit was damaged when service personnel introduced their own kit to the vehicle. This time we had bespoke kit boxes tailor made in advance and fitted to a much higher standard, keeping the Perspex sheets so the equipment could be seen, but providing much more protection for the kit.

After a very impressive turn around from the Production and Edit team, the series began airing in July. The result was a hugely successful series of themed episodes, with controversial issues covered in The brilliant access acquired by Blast! Films meant that the audience were let into shocking, heart-warming and heartbreaking stories. The content of some of the scenes were extremely distressing, but covered with incredible sensitivity, educating audiences and sparking both real-life and online debate.

Facts & Figures

Filmed: January – March 2017
Aired: July 2017
Channel: Channel 4
Location: Swindon, Wiltshire
Viewers: 2.1 Million
Cameras: 36

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