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Queenstowners nab Academy Award with aerial motion picture camera technology

10 Jan 18

Local Queenstown design engineers John Coyle, Brad Hurndell, Vikas Sathaye and Shane Buckham have won a 2018 Academy Award for the “concept, design, engineering and implementation of the Shotover K1 Camera System" they developed.

The award is presented in the Scientific and Engineering Award category.

The K1 camera design is now the top used system for helicopter aerials for most of the major motion pictures and many other productions.

Directors and producers directly call for the “Shotover” when they want incredible aerial shots.

Many Queenstowners might have seen it on the front of the helicopter flying around Queenstown as it is used regularly for many of the motion pictures and other filming productions that come to Queenstown.

Recently the system was used for the movie "A Wrinkle in Time" with Reese Witherspoon and Oprah Winfrey filmed in this area.

It was also used on one of Taylor Swift's music videos “Out of the Woods" filmed in the Glenorchy area as well as the movie "Pork Pie" down in Invercargill.

The system was also used on an NZ Tourism promotion with producer James Cameron being the main character to promote New Zealand as a great tourist destination.

“Cameron was intrigued by the Shotover K1 we used and we had a chance to chat about some of the technical aspects of the design, being an engineer and innovator himself he understood some of the challenges we had to go through,” says Coyle.

These individuals will receive an award plaque depicting the Oscar statuette in gold plate.

The Academy generally gives out awards to the specific individuals who worked hard to develop the technology and not necessarily to a company that happens to own the technology that was developed by these individuals.

The Awards Ceremony will take place in Beverly Hills on February 10 and portions of it will be telecast during the movie-star Motion Picture Academy Awards in March.

The Technical and Movie Awards used to be presented together up to the 1970s but were divided to shorten the ceremonies.

Coyle started the company in 2009 and hired the engineers to help develop the state-of-the-art aerial camera system to be used specifically for motion picture movies.

He owns and operates two Shotover camera systems with Brett Mills for most of the productions done in the Queenstown area.

“We use Glacier Southern Lakes helicopter company who was instrumental in helping us fly the K1 system during its testing phases. Local and famous helicopter pilot Alfie Speights, Peter Jackson’s favourite helicopter pilot, is usually slated to do the flying. We also use Alpine Aviation in Wanaka.”

Other locals Coyle hired involved with Shotover were Dennis Behan, Dan Clapson, Belinda McBride and David Broadhurst.

“It was a lot of work developing the camera system, our families endured the long hours we spent on the project but now feel some payoff with winning this fantastic award.”

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