United Broadcast & Media Solutions (UBMS), a Dubai-based distributor of broadcast and professional video equipment, held a dedicated three-day Steadicam workshop at its new training academy in Dubai on November 11-13.
The certified workshop, which was held in conjunction with Tiffen International, the manufacturer of Steadicam, was attended by nine camera operators from countries including Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The students received expert guidance from Tiffen executives and camera operators, Robin Thwaites, international director of sales (Steadicam), and Kevan Parker, international sales director, Tiffen.
The workshop was for Silver certification, and was the first certified session to be held at UBMS’s Training Academy, which opened at its Dubai headquarters in the summer.
Thwaites said that such training workshops are vital, particularly since many broadcasters have cut back on investment in training. “In the UK, TV companies used to train people but they don’t any more. It’s left a big hole. I see the workshops as vital.”
Training for specialist equipment such as Steadicam is particularly important: “The thing about Steadicam operators is they make it look easy,” he added. “You could liken it to learning a musical instrument – it’s easy to learn the rudimentary things but you never stop learning. These workshops are very good to give people the fundamentals and then be able to go away and practice on their own.”
Thwaites added that having a partner such as UBMS is key to staging this type of training session. “Having a partner on the ground is absolutely vita. We have run workshops in countries without partners and they are very difficult to put together,” he said.
The workshop, which ran from 11-13 November, was structured to meet 20 training objectives including: how to assemble the Steadicam and fit the camera and all accessories; understand the principles of operation of Steadicam, and how to balance the system correctly, including dynamic balance.
Peter Kyriakos, head of marketing at UBMS, said that the workshop was limited to nine students to maintain quality.
Kyriakos stressed that the aim of the workshop was to add value to customers rather than to make a profit. “We’re showing our customers that we not only distribute a full range of equipment but also that we have an authorised service centre and a training academy that customers can depend on.
“We also saw that the Middle East and Africa was lacking in training and we saw that gap and wanted to fill it – it’s all about value added services. We want our customers to see that we are here to support them for everything they require in the regional market.”
Kyriakos added that the Training Academy is now in regular use for internal training of UBMS sales staff as well as for customers and certified product training.
Upcoming training sessions include Blackmagic, Arri and Sony US.
Digital Studio spoke to three of the students about the Steadicam workshop. Hasan Aslan, a freelance camera operator based in the UAE, said: “Most of us came with a basic knowledge of the Steadicam and in the morning on the second day we were able to put it on ourselves and balance it and do everything. The trainers were so good and made us feel comfortable with the Steadicam.”
He added that it is rare find this type of training session in the region, which means that operators usually have to travel to Europe. “To have it here in the Middle East in Dubai is really impressive.”
Krikor Yalmanian, a freelance operator from, was one of the more experienced Steadicam users in the group, having use the device for four years. Even so, there was much to learn from the trainers. “I was surprised – there were a lot of things to learn. After four years I am still getting a lot from this. The instructors are really cool guys. The workshop is helping me to fix some minor errors that I was unaware of before, it is helping me a lot.
Carlos A Conti, who works for Al Kass Sports channel in Qatar, was particularly impressed by the attention to detail in the training sessons. “They really focus on small details and teach you how to remember things in the field that are important and help you to work better. I cover live sports, including football matches. When you spend 90 minutes standing with 30 kilos on your back, all these tips really help you.”