Cameraman Niels van Brakel's experience at Pinkpop
Meeting your heroes while you are at work; you can if you are a cameraman. Niels van Brakel is looking forward to Pinkpop every year. “It is one of the nicest jobs; I can’t think of another place where work and the soundtrack of your life come together like it does here.”
It is a legendary edition, the one of 1992. Eddie Vedder climbs on a camera crane during the performance of Pearl Jam and dives straight into the audience. This is the main reason why Niels van Brakes became a cameraman.
“I was a teenager and from the couch I could see on the television how Eddie Vedder signaled to the cameraman. He brought his crane to the stage so Eddie could climb on it and turned it above the crowd for a stage dive. That made such an impression, I thought it was fantastic! When I got older and did not know what to do with my life, I remembered that moment. Cameraman, yes, that sounded ok.”
“I wasn't really sure how to handle this, but I arranged a job in the studios of RTL. After a while I heard they were having internal training courses with the CinevideoGroup. I applied, they took me in and when the planning department asked me if I had specific preferences, I was at Pinkpop one month later. First as an assistant, but about four years later as a cameraman. I only missed the edition of 2009, since my daughter was born then.”
Putting heart and soul in the job
“For years Pinkpop is a well-oiled machines and it is great to cooperate with our client NTR/VPRO. Although there are changes in both teams each year, every year it still feels like coming home. Immediately, as soon as you enter the festival site. It is one of the greatest jobs to do and many colleagues look forward to it, myself included.”
“The best part of this job is that you get to meet your heroes. I know, for example, from a colleague, who works on the stage, that he used to sneak on to the festival site when he was a little boy, to see Doe Maar, a Dutch band. Unfortunately, he just missed the performance. But this year he was there shooting the show of Doe Maar.”
“My most beautiful memory is the performance of Muse during Pinkpop 2015. My girlfriend and I are big fans of Muse. We even named our daughter after one of their songs; her second name is Bliss. So when I was shooting, my work and private life got so close together, I got really overwhelmed by emotions and literally came off the stage crying.”
In 2016 the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Major Lazer, Rammstein and Paul McCartney were part of the line-up, among others. United registered the festival with eighteen cameras, including two cranes and a wireless RF camera, and was responsible for the registrations and live broadcast on NTR/VPRO and 3FM.
Eight cameras operated the Main Stage, with Niels as one of the cameraman. “With each band we swap places, so you work with a different camera all the time. The hand cameras are rather heavy, so it is nice to spread your energy and power. But it is also nice to change positions often; so everyone gets a go at any position.”
Great involvement of the production crew
“It is so great to do this, afterwards everyone always leaves the festival site with a big smile. I understand that each individual has its own interests, but that is the beauty of United. We are such a large company and we work on such a wide variety of programs.”
“It does not matter if you like music, sports, politics or whatever: there is always a program that suits you. Therefore, we at United, are very involved with the productions. For example, some colleagues fully enjoy shooting the Champions League or EUFA Cup. Cameraman, it really is a wonderful job!”
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