14661 SW 141st Pl Miami FL 33186 P:305-232-7687 F: 305-232-7084 www.cameracopters.com
Camera Copters’ turnkey aerial production units are unique in the world. The custom-built 53-foot transport/production trailers, dubbed Big Rig 1 and Big Rig 2, are self-contained mobile units designed to house the company’s Hughes/MD-500D helicopters on the road. Modeled after a NASCAR race truck, each Big Rig carries a helicopter, camera gear and jet fuel to job sites in the US, Canada and even Mexico in some cases.
“Other companies move helicopters on flatbed trucks, but nobody else has a totally turnkey unit fully outfitted with equipment plus a lounge, rest room and sat Internet service,” says president Paul Barth. “Our Big Rigs are designed to be a customer’s base of operations on location.”
With production budgets shrinking and filmmakers looking to stretch production dollars by taking advantage of attractive state incentive packages, Barth believes “there’s never been a better time” to offer his Big Rig concept for on-location aerial support. Since the Big Rigs come complete with gyro-stabilized film or HD camera systems, FAA-approved camera mounting brackets, recording and monitoring gear, crew, plus helicopter and pilot, customers are spared the expense of shipping in resources from various locations, arranging crew transport and ferrying in the helicopter saving thousands of production dollars.
Having bases in Florida, New York and California, Camera Copters also maintains a Louisiana corporation and keeps one of the Big Rigs in that state when the pace of production is heavy. This enables producers taking advantage of Louisiana’s lucrative production incentives to get tax credits for using Barth’s Big Rig as well.
Camera Copters’ second Big Rig hit the road in early 2008 and is identical to the original truck except for its completely black exterior. “Its unmarked exterior means it can be used as a prop in a production,” Barth explains. He’s developing, with producers in LA, a TV series and possible feature in which the unit plays a starring role.
Meanwhile, the Big Rigs were used for the Florida aerial segments of the feature Get Smart, and they have traveled to many other states, including Michigan for corporate projects, including one for Sea-doo, and Missouri for PGA golf.
The Discovery Channel also tapped a Big Rig for back-to-back shows in its Ways to Save the Planet series. “We traveled across the country with them to each location which guarantees a continuity of production,” Barth points out. The trucks have been on hand for The Amazing Race at multiple US locations and followed several 3,000-mile races of The Bull Run, including one for Spike TV.
“It’s very cost effective to bring a Big Rig to any part of the country, especially areas without aerial resources of their own,” emphasizes Barth. “One phone call does it all.”
Barth himself recently served as aerial coordinator and pilot for Jonah Hex in Los Angeles and Earthbound in central Florida, for the hang gliding sequences, and New Orleans. He is currently heading out on the road to shoot ocean racing in Newport for ESPN Sports, Discovery Channel’s Curiosity Retreats in Gateway, Colorado and a Word War II dog-fight sequence in Atlanta as well as prepping for the feature The Green Lantern shooting in New Orleans.