December 11, 2013

Meet the Panavision Supertechno 100: A Mind-Blowing Method of Camera Movement

Here at No Film School we often talk about various pieces of gear. Unfortunately, the common sentiment seems to be that gear needs to be priced to own in order for it to be of any use to the readers of a site about low-budget and DIY filmmaking. However, focusing solely on the lower-priced gear can potentially leave people unaware of the gear that they would likely encounter on larger film sets. With that in mind, here's a brief introduction to a piece of gear that you will never own, but one that you may very well see on various sets, the Panavision Supertechno 100-foot crane.

Here's a fun little behind-the-scenes video of the Supertechno 100 being used on the Showtime historical drama, The Borgias:

And here are a few fun examples of the types of complex camera moves that technocranes can provide:

Perhaps the most famous example of what these systems can do, the opening scene from Robert Altman's The Player:

Of course, the chances of encountering a massive technocrane of any kind on a low-budget film are fairly slim. However, if you're actually looking to be employed in the filmmaking industry, rather than just making films with your friends from time to time, then having an acute sense of what pieces of gear are available, what each piece does, and how each piece works will make you an invaluable person to have around.

What do you guys think? Have you ever used a technocrane? Let us know about your experiences down in the comments!

Link: On the Set - 'The Borgias': Supertechno 100 -- Vimeo

Your Comment

25 Comments

You didn't go to Tom Cruise on the Burj Khalifa? Another fantastic techno crane shot.
Used them many times - like all things you need a good operator. A fantastic tool if you have the time/budget.

December 11, 2013 at 5:19PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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marklondon

I don't think I've seen that shot. Do you have a link for it?

December 11, 2013 at 5:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Rob Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker Freedom
4500

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvdK_1mH8qU

Now THAT would have been fun to bolt down. I've shot there, but sadly not on the outside.
Also, have you ever lived in Santa Monica? I ask only because I have mail addressed to a Robert Hardy here! :-)

December 11, 2013 at 8:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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marklondon

I bet they didn't get a permit for that. I'm telling!

December 11, 2013 at 7:12PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Nick

I'm gonna wait for the next version, I think.

December 11, 2013 at 7:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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alex

1 word: Nightmare

December 11, 2013 at 7:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Tyler

I've worked alongside a technocrane several times as B-camera operator. Once on a bigger studio budget feature and the other on a car commercial. Beautiful piece of machinery, especially in the hands of a competent operator.

December 11, 2013 at 7:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I asked for a SuperTechnocrane for "Estação Sambô", a Music DVD/BD here in Brazil. Same fellings, a beautiful piece of machinery with great shoots! Sometimes, at post, we didn't know if some lower shoots were did by Steady or Techno.

December 11, 2013 at 10:28PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Theuer

Movi over Godzilla could do it better.

December 11, 2013 at 7:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Nelson

Can you put a GH2 on one? If not I'm not interested.

December 11, 2013 at 7:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I am at a loss...... Why would you use this over a highly precise heli with 3-axis stabilization...

December 11, 2013 at 8:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Shane

Because you probably don't want to fly a chopper 10 feet above your actors heads, if you want a closeup from a certain angle. No such problems with cables, however. Much cheaper too.

December 11, 2013 at 9:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

This reminds of the WWII era German 800mm Dora gun. The Borgia's sequence could have probably be shot via cable cams, sort of like that Oliver Stone World Cup promo. On "Mission Impossible", they were using cable cams, cranes and helicopters. No autogyros though. Must have been short of funds.

December 11, 2013 at 9:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

There was a skinnier telescoping crane that was demo'd about 2 NABs ago made by a smaller company...anyone knows what became of it?

December 11, 2013 at 10:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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thadon calico

This would work great with a T3i

December 12, 2013 at 7:49AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Josh

You're joshing me, right?

December 12, 2013 at 3:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Fddd

Perhaps we should, as the old comercial said "ask a man who drives one": http://www.dollygrippery.net/2013/11/70-hydrascope.html

December 12, 2013 at 9:40AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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CraneStyle

This thing is almost frightening when you see it in reality. I helped loading the counter weights on a small budget movie (did vfx supervise but didn`t have much to do on that day) it took forever.

And then, the operator nearly knocked out someone with the Alexa on it`s end when he gave the thing a spin out of fun and didn`t think about the beast`s inertia...

December 12, 2013 at 10:21AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Mariano

Because you want a professional shot and not some bro with helicopter he built for $10,000.

December 12, 2013 at 11:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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lee

I thought he meant a professional helicopter shot, not an RC. And he probably did.

December 13, 2013 at 1:31AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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DLD

Rotorwash really can mess things up. I've been on shoots where it ruined otherwise amazing shots.

December 14, 2013 at 12:39AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Paul Watt

These are awesome machines! I built a crane in my garage with electric pan and tilt and shot all of this with it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDSYaBp0Eas&feature=c4-overview&list=UU_o...
I would love to get to the level of being an operator of one of these!

December 13, 2013 at 8:35AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Great post here.I like this direction you are taking.showing us what is found in bigger sets coz some of us will be there/want to be there in the future.good work NFS and Robert.Keep them coming.

December 13, 2013 at 2:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Arnold

But setup times are shorter, even on these larger Technocrane, than with cablecams - wehre you'd have to move two cranes. And with the base on tracks you have an even wider range of movement or another "axis".

December 13, 2013 at 5:16PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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MGS

Technocranes are awesome! But I'm very curious about how it is they extend out and in, how are they powered,and do they have some massive engine gear system at the base with pulleys? How do they actually do the extension movements?

December 17, 2013 at 5:29AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Darren