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Eurovision backstage: Tim Tønnessen on creating the smoothest shots

03 June 2018 at 09:40 CEST
Arena shots during the second Semi-Final of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest. Andres Putting & Thomas Hanses
The steadicam is one of the most interesting tv cameras involved in the Eurovision Song Contest. But what is it exactly and why is it special? We talk to Tim Tønnessen, one of this year’s steadicam operators in Lisbon.

The steadicam is a mobile stabilising tripod that the camera operator wears on his body, creating smooth shots by moving towards and from the performing artist. The advantage of such a camera is to get really smooth movement in shots, as to not distract from the subject in the image. As Tim adds: “You really feel the emotion of the artist. The shot does not shake, we can even run with the camera and still get smooth shots.”

Walking around with 30 extra kilos

Imagine a full grown Dalmatian dog. Now imagine carrying one around with one for 3 hours. This is what Tim faces during the Eurovision live shows with his 30-kilo steadicam - not even counting all the hours that he operated the camera during rehearsals. We ask Tim if he needs to go to the gym to operate his camera: “No, I do not do extra workouts. I put on the steadicam and I run. It’s the best workout you can get. You get tired, but after a while you get used to the weight and you build up muscles you didn’t know you have!”

Carrying around a 30-kilo camera on his body for three hours is not the only challenge Tim faces, he also has to remember where to be at which point in time. How does he do this? Tim answers: “It is about getting in and out of the picture, without the viewer at home seeing me. It is complicated sometimes, but the CuePilot software and my own cheat sheets help me a lot.”

"I'm proud of being here"

But Tim's job is definitely more than physically demanding: "I am proud of being here. I can do what I love with this kind of show. The act of Belarus was the most fun for me this year, as I needed to dance with the rose in my hand, so in a way I was part of the act. It was challenging to try and make that rose float as smooth as possible, but it worked!”

A steady thank you to Tim Tønnessen for taking time out of his busy schedule in Lisbon to speak to us.