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  1. #1
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    Question about skating in spotlight

    Well, two questions:

    How hard is it to skate in spotlight? I was watching an exhibition, something we're all used to seeing, but I suddenly remembered, "Wait, how does he know if the wall is coming before his triple flip? Isn't it disorienting?" Do you think the skaters just have general "rink sense" in terms of how many strokes 'til the edge of the rink, have practiced their programs so many times that it's not a problem, or intrinsically "feel" the size of the rink? Do skaters really visually cue the boards when they skate?

    2. How do spotlight operators keep up? It looks like some exhibitions have 4 or 5 spotlights following a skater at one time. Are there actually 4 or 5 operators at opposing ends of the rink sweating profusely trying to keep focused? Do they have to practice and memorize every program? This sounds pretty intense, especially since there are so many venues in the world and I'm sure the same spotlight operators don't travel. Or nowadays is there some sort of automated motion-tracking system with spotlights?

  2. #2

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    [QUOTE=Quintuple;3237468]Well, two questions:

    How hard is it to skate in spotlight? I was watching an exhibition, something we're all used to seeing, but I suddenly remembered, "Wait, how does he know if the wall is coming before his triple flip? Isn't it disorienting?" Do you think the skaters just have general "rink sense" in terms of how many strokes 'til the edge of the rink, have practiced their programs so many times that it's not a problem, or intrinsically "feel" the size of the rink? Do skaters really visually cue the boards when they skate?
    QUOTE]

    I have just finished scheduling the US Figure Skating National Showcase 2011 with 450 starts. For National Showcase the rink barriers are lighted with Ribbin light strings and we use 4 manually controlled spotlights. There is seldom any sign of disorentation, however we have had skaters look into a spotlight and be momentarily blinded.
    Morry Stillwell

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quintuple View Post

    2. How do spotlight operators keep up? It looks like some exhibitions have 4 or 5 spotlights following a skater at one time. Are there actually 4 or 5 operators at opposing ends of the rink sweating profusely trying to keep focused? Do they have to practice and memorize every program? This sounds pretty intense, especially since there are so many venues in the world and I'm sure the same spotlight operators don't travel. Or nowadays is there some sort of automated motion-tracking system with spotlights?
    I have no idea how professional shows with multiple spotlights do it. But, as far as manually operating a single spotlight goes, it's not that hard. For our club shows, we use two spotlights operated by skate dads - they don't have any problems following programs they don't know. I've never run spot, but I've operated the camera for IJS events at club competitions, and so also have to follow skaters through programs I don't know. I just keep the skater a little behind center in my viewfinder. I guess it helps that I'm also a skater and can kind of recognize what they're setting up for and where they're likely to go next, but, really, it isn't that hard to do.

  4. #4
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    Hmm. I've never operated a spotlight, but I've operated a pro-sumer video camera, and my panning and tilting were NOT smooth. I just imagine that spotlight operators must get fatigued!

    I wonder if there's a tiny tracking device a skater can keep in his/her pocket, or tied to a boot, so spotlights just automatically follow.

    Well, not that I've ever skated a performance (or program, for that matter), but, I imagine it takes skill on both sides!

  5. #5
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    My latest interview with Tim Goebel, he said he had a very hard time getting used to spotlights. i think it depends on the skater.
    In my spare time, I like to interview figure skating legends.

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    I've watched exhibitions broadcast on Eurosport where the lights were turned up as a skater set up for a jump. I seem to recall the commentators saying that some skaters had requested the lights be turned up for their jumping passes.

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