Four days on an Olympic roof? Worth it. First robotic camera shot soars

July 30, 2012 | By Chris McGrath | Olympics, Photography, Photojournalism, Sport, Technology, What We're Working On

I spent four days on the roof of the Olympic Stadium, getting the robotic cameras (remotes) set up, two of those with our IT team and the rigging team. To cover the Opening Ceremony, we had two remotes at the Stadium, both on diagonals.

One was in the lighting paddle and one was placed on the catwalk, but both robotic cameras were set up to cover the fly past by the Red Arrows, the aerobatics display team of the UK’s Royal Air Force.

We didn’t know which direction they would fly over from and it was difficult because although we knew what time they would come over, we couldn’t actually see them. We watched on the television screens, and then, when the Red Arrows were close, I fired the cameras together.

I am really pleased with the results and it was amazing to start using the robotics!



The Red Arrows perform a flyover prior to the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Essential gear for the Opening Ceremony Robotics photography:

  • Steel capped boots
  • Hard hat
  • Helmet
  • Light clothing…it was boiling hot up there!



Editor’s note: Chris McGrath is an Australian born staff photographer with Getty Images, who, over the past 11 years has photographed three (now four!) Olympic games, the Paralympics, Commonwealth games, the FIFA World Cup, the Rugby World Cup, the MLB World Series, the Super Bowl, the Daytona 500, US Open Golf, numerous US Open and Australian Open Grand Slams, the 2004 Asian Tsunami, the election of Barack Obama and the earthquake and Tsunami in Japan.  He has worked for clients such as Nike, NFL, Coca-Cola, the LPGA, NASCAR and the New York Times, and  his work has been recognized with many industry awards including, POYi,  NPPA, CHIPP, AIPP, The Atlanta Photojournalism contest, PX3  and the New York Press Photographers Association.

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  • Richard Deverell

    Definitely worth it! As an illustrator one of my skills is high vantage point illustration and I am forever taking reference photos. You’d never get me up there…hats off!