You've no doubt seen some footage of the Tour de France or caught some of the cycling events from this summer's Olympic Games in London, but have you ever wondered how they managed to get such silky smooth videos? The answer comes at the hand of professional moto-pilots, such as American Robert Starling, who transport's cameramen on the back of their bikes, enabling some of those breathtaking shots to reach your television screens.
Having worked with the likes of Disney, McDonalds and Sony music over the course of his 28 years in the industry, Robert is a leading Steadicam operator in the States, but the real excitement begins when he gets on two wheels.
Riding a BMW R1200GS Robert utilizes a set of Öhlins TTX Mechatronic suspension. With his work pushing not only the suspension, but Robert himself he has to be prepared for every possible event that can occur out on the roads. Over to him to explain a little more on what work as professional moto-pilot involves...
"My work requires me to push the bike and the suspension system to its limits; especially when I'm carrying a photographer or videographer, and these new shocks have transformed the bike in so many ways.
"I was recently working on the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado, where we went from open highways to tight twisty mountain roads and even mountain dirt roads that climbed to well over 12,000 feet. As the saying goes, what goes up must come down so we also had to contend with a mad dash downhill into the town of Aspen.
At the top, or what we refer to as the King of Mountain, we bomb down the descents ahead of the cyclists who can easily hit speeds of 70mph plus and overtake a motorcycle. Pushing a 650-lb bike with 400 pounds of riders on it down these descents is really tough.
"Regardless of the surface, I feel really confident with the bike and have good contact with the road. Importantly, there's no hint of sag in the rear.
Simply put, it goes where I point it instead of wallowing around or bobbing about – which is something that causes a lot of problems when trying to get some good footage. There was one moment on the trip where we raced through a downtown area that had significant gutter dips in the street.
Two of our TV bikes bottomed out so hard that one broke a foot peg and one broke off the TV transmitter antenna mast. I barely bottomed out on just one. Part of the tour saw me carrying on-camera talent where I would ride next to the lead riders while another camera bike shoots us in a live interview. Having been riding for over 23 days straight I barely noticed any discomfort – which says something!"
Starling's website is: www.westcoaststeadicam.com
No, he doesn't do weddings.