Vinten Makes Magic for Simmons and “Pair of Kings”


Last Updated: October 11, 2012 9:58 pm GMT
(Valley Cottage, New York--October 11, 2012) Disney’s “Pair of Kings” is an unusual multi-camera series, to say the least. It is filled with incredible battles and amazing stunts as well as special effects and “lots of really funny stuff,” says Director of Photography Johnny Simmons, ASC. “We shoot both four-camera and single camera style; maintaining the use of all four cameras, shooting coverage inside the proscenium.

“On the multi-camera shows that I’ve been shooting, Vinten® has pretty much been the standard,” he adds. “Coming from single camera, I wasn’t that familiar with what sitcom camera operators wanted to use. I asked for advice from seasoned operators and cinematographers and the answer was always – Vinten.

“On this show, my camera operators are faced with fast moving scenes with quick camera moves that test their skills on a continuous basis,” he adds. “They need quality support to make those moves, and that’s what we get, thanks to our Vinten pedestals and Vinten heads, paired with our Sony 1500 cameras.

“On some episodes, we make use of a system called Lightcraft,” explains Simmons. “It is a real time virtual compositing system. We shoot on green screen and the virtual environment is being recorded in real time. The environment might be a mountain range, an ancient temple or a sandy beach. The operators are looking at the composite on their monitors as we shoot the actors doing stunts flying through the air or fighting some strange beast that isn’t there. It makes for a long day, all on green screen.

“It’s another situation that relies on the reliability of our Vintens to perform,” he adds. “The camera moves are precise. A pan and tilt needs to stop and start when it’s supposed to in this virtual world. It’s always very well planned in advance of shooting. When the operators show up, it’s all been discussed, but they are seeing it for the first time and have to perform as if they’ve been a part of the prep. Thanks to their excellent skills and good equipment like Vinten, they get it done--and done well.”

Series operator Ray Gonzales says “The Vinten head is superbly better over the rival friction heads for smooth dependable camera moves. On “Pair of Kings” we’re dealing with sets that appear to be ancient temples and jungles filled with different creatures of every kind. I have to have top equipment.”

Operator Larry Blumenthal agrees, “Thanks to the Vinten heads, with their solid and consistent quality, I know I have support to follow my operating needs; from fine to coarse, in nearly an intuitive way.”

“Operator Ken Herft summed it up for me recently,” says Simmons. “He told me that ‘as a camera operator on sitcoms, the quality of his work is only as good as his equipment. Working on shows like “Pair of Kings”, there is no margin for equipment failure.’ We all agree – Vinten has always been the industry’s best and that’s why we use them.”

This is the second year that cinematographer Johnny Simmons ASC was nominated for an Emmy for his work on “Pair of Kings”. Series operator Ray Gonzales has also been nominated for his work on the series.

The teen multi-camera sitcom “Pair of Kings” is the story of a pair of fraternal twins, one white and one black, raised in Chicago who find that they are heirs to the throne of a fictional Polynesian island. It airs on the Disney XD channel.

When Simmons wraps this season of “Kings”, he will move to a new Disney show, “A Dog With A Blog” and will pick up Turner Broadcasting’s “Men At Work”. Simmons will go back to “Kings” for the next season. Simmons adds, “It goes without saying, on all my shows, Vinten heads and peds are there.”

Johnny Simmons chooses heads and pedestals by Vinten, part of Vitec Videocom, a Vitec Group company. For further information, please go to or contact: Vinten, 709 Executive Blvd., Valley College, NY 10989, Phone: 1 888 2 Vinten, Fax: 845-268-0113, Email:


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