Robotic Camera At O.J. Trial p. 14

By: M.L. Stein Simpson trial Judge Lance Ito initiates the idea sp.

NO MORE ONLY back-of-the-head shots of the accused and the lawyers at the O.J. Simpson murder trial in Los Angeles. Newspaper and magazine readers will get a new view of the proceedings.
With the judge's permission, a robotic camera will be operated by an unseen photographer ? unseen, that is, by the jury and others in the courtroom.
The idea for the camera came from Judge Lance Ito himself, who said he saw it in an outdoors catalog as a device for catching wildlife on film.
The camera, a soundproofed Nikon with an auto focus zoom lens, is mounted on a wall and connected by wires to a Nintendo-like system in the hallway outside the courtroom. A photographer views the action in the courtroom and shoots whatever he or she likes. A tiny video camera attached to the rear of the boxed camera's viewfinder shows where the camera is aimed.
However, Calvin Hom, a Los Angeles Times photo editor who coordinated the project, said the camera has only a 36-exposure roll so the shots must be carefully chosen. Inserting a new roll while the court is in session is out of the question.
The three pool photographers covering the trial must stand in the back of the courtroom, thereby making frontal or profile shots of Simpson and the attorneys almost impossible to get.
Ito agreed to another camera if it did not intimidate jurors and witnesses. The photographers, who put the system together, borrowed the technique from television technicians who, at the beginning of the trial, installed a remotely run video camera near the front of the courtroom.
Staffers from the Times, Associated Press, Los Angeles Daily News, Reuters and Agence France Presse will take turns at the camera and share their pictures.
Simpson is charged with the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.
The trial is expected to last several weeks.
?( Ron Taniwaki, Nikon Professional Service, installas the still-photo-pool remote camera to be used inthe O.J. Simson trial courtoom. The camera is located inside a hard plastic blimp tomake it silent.) [Photo & Caption]


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