Cartoni Magnum Fluid Head, Superpod System Helps Seminole Productions With NCAA Baseball Regional

Tallahassee, Florida-based freelance camera operator Tigger Gray is one of the busiest camera operators in the Southeast. A specialist in live sports, Gray has worked with the Golf Channel, NBC Sports, ESPN, Fox Sports, and many others, covering pro and college events including football, baseball, basketball, and soccer.

Recently, Gray was part of a crew hired by Florida State University’s Seminole Productions for live broadcasts of the NCAA Baseball Tournament’s Tallahassee Regional where the school’s team was competing for a slot in the Super Regionals and, ultimately, the College World Series. The crew worked eight games in four days.

Shooting from a position above third base, Gray captured the action on the field with a Panasonic HDTV camera and Canon DIGISUPER 80X Field Box lens mounted to a Cartoni Magnum fluid head and Superpod system. Seminole Productions was evaluating the Cartoni support products, supplied by Manios Digital & Film, and this was the first time that they were used in a live broadcast. The Magnum head has a payload capacity of 66 -209 lbs, the most in the Cartoni line, and is designed for fully-decked studio and OB cameras with long, boxed lens, like the package Gray was using.

Gray was especially impressed by the Magnum’s patented counterbalance system. “It’s very fluid and consistent, even with a full-size camera on top,” he says. “The sticks and the spreader were very steady. I immediately felt confident in them, which is important when you are working in a crowded space. I definitely felt safe.”

The tripod was a heavy-duty model combined with a mid-level. “My position in the stands required me to shoot over the heads of the fans, but under a screen that protects them from foul balls,” Gray notes. “That meant that the tripod had to be set at an awkward height that was not the regular length. Tom O’Neil from Manios got that sorted out. He provided us with a modified tripod fit for that specific position. The support I received from Tom and the Manios team was fabulous.”

This was not the first time that Gray has shot with a Cartoni support system. “I’ve used Cartoni products for football, basketball, and baseball,” he says. “I keep coming back to them because they provide consistent performance. And they are durable; the knobs don’t fall off after heavy use. I can balance the camera in a forward or backward position easily. Other heads require a lot more work. You can tear your thumb apart trying to move the weight of the camera forward or back.”

Based on Gray’s experience at the NCAA Tournament, Seminole Productions purchased four Magnum support systems and is now using them as an integral part of their OB camera package. “The whole crew was impressed by the Cartoni system,” Gray says. “When I was assembling the system behind home plate before the first game, an audio guy caught site of it and said it looked like “the Ferrari of tripods.” I told him that I agreed it was fabulous…and it is Italian made.”

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