NFL Feature Series

Mike Germond, S.O.C.

Orlando SteadiCam

Where are you located and work from?

Orlando Steadicam LLC is appropriately based in the Happiest Place on Earth! Florida naturally generates a lot of tourism business (resorts, conventions, theme parks) and Evergreen Commercials can be shot here year round. Outside the occasional Disney and Universal Studios Commercial shoots, I’m primarily a gun-for-hire and travel wherever the client needs me. Which is where my INOVATIV carts come to play.

NFL feature

How did you get into the football industry?

I have been working in the Film and Television industry for over 15 years now. With 11 of those years spent exclusively operating Steadicam. My interest was sparked at a young age, following in the footsteps of a relative who made it big in the VFX industry on movies like 2012, Furious 7, and X-Men Apocalypse.

I started as a Video Editor where I learned how to manipulate average content and make it look amazing. My intent was to work on Feature Films, but something kept me wanting more.

I sought a Bachelor’s Degree from Central Michigan University, the best Broadcasting school in my home State of Michigan and was introduced to Steadicam through internships at a local Production Company who still shot 35mm Film.

I realized immediately that this was a device which would allow me to make compelling content primarily through the lens instead of relying on Post Production.

I paid my way out to LA in 2008 to take a workshop with the professionals at Tiffen Steadicam, and I was hooked.

Off of a $10k loan from my late grandfather, I purchased an entry level set of equipment. At the time, Butch Jones was the Coach of the Chippewas Football Team with the likes of Antonio Brown (Raiders), Joe Staley (49ers), Frank Zombo and Eric Fischer (Chiefs) and many more now successful NFL players on the roster.

Recruiting was big and I had been producing hype videos for him outside of normal classes. I was already traveling with the team and shooting Handheld, so I auditioned the Steadicam during Spring Practice and Butch bought it. My first paid Steadicam gigs were in College Football in 2008, long before any Network was using Steadicam at the Collegiate level.

Orlando SteadiCam

How does it feel to be such a huge part of football season?

There is nothing like the adrenaline you experience being close up, in the action, feeding off the players, broadcasting Live to tens of millions of viewers on the #1 Rated Show in Primetime. 

The access given to the Steadicam in NFL is tickets you literally can’t buy; and Sunday night football is the biggest stage in America to feature it on.

Do you have a mentor or person that inspired you to get into this industry?

I’ve had several mentors along the way, of course my Cousin who made it big in the VFX industry first opened my eyes to the Entertainment world.

I was probably destined to be in IT or Computer Science up until then.

A man who has set the standard and revolutionized the way Steadicam is used in Football today is Jeff Zachary, and I have had the good fortune to work alongside him in the final years before retiring his rig.

He was the first guy to bring Steadicam onto the field during experimental XFL back in 2001. My first shots in College Football in 2008 were based on things I saw him doing on NBC Sunday Night Football.

If you have one piece of advice for someone looking to get into your profession, what would it be?

Be nice to everybody, take every job offered to you, no job is beneath you. It’s amazing the little details people will remember or things that stand out to them years later when they’re recommending you for a position. I think I’ve made a career out of being the best Steadicam Operator who isn’t a jerk!

Steadicam Mike

I’ve never intended on becoming the “Sports Guy” but this gig comes natural to me. Forget about the 1-take, no rehearsal, organized chaos that we put on TV week-to-week.

I am having so much fun out there on the field that it doesn’t feel like I’ve worked a day in my life.

I have also had the good fortune to transition over into the Feature Film and Commercial worlds on many occasions, and I feel as though this experience enhances my work in other segments of the industry.

We just don’t get a second chance in Live Sports. I’m stitching together multiple versions in my head of how this long Steadicam One-r is going to unfold if Tom Brady goes left instead of right across the Goal Line and the entire ream rushes to chest bump him.

I want to see his face, but I don’t want to die. Is it about the scene or is it about the close up clean shot? We adapt on the fly to all these things to tell the story, and after that the rest is just easy!

Describe Your Cart Setup

INOVATIV was kind enough to rush build me a Scout31 in the Summer of 2016, which took its Maiden Voyage on Rio Olympics. I wanted something small and travel friendly, after all I would be carrying this thing around the world for as long as it stayed standing!

INOVATIV service has been great about keeping it standing with my rebuilt parts over the years.

The Scout31 is the same outer diameter as my Pelican 1650 Steadicam Cases, and flies free under my Delta Diamond Status (3 free bags under 70lbs). So it was a natural choice.

The only thing I found lacking was the small wheels, especially on that soft natural grass Football turf. I was ecstatic when Pat told me about the new Voyager30 that would be replacing it, but with bigger wheels!

That cart is taking its Maiden Voyage to the NFL’s 100th Season Kickoff, Packers and Bears on Primetime’s #1 Show.

NFL workstation

Detailed Components Of Your Workstation

I utilize the Steadicam System and Travel Bag quite heavily of course. I also learned a trick on my original Scout31 from Amazing Race and American Idol Steadicam Operator, Rob Vuona. 

He taught me to place adhesive rubber diamond plate on the underside of the top shelf. Once collapsed, it becomes a non-skid surface for stacking cases on.

With All Of The Traveling, How Do You Transport Your Workstation?

I am at the airport curbside 2-3 times per week on average, with about 200k miles flown across 150 flights annually.

So, I have quite a well oiled routine. I roll up to the airport curbside with the collapsed cart but I leave the wheels on it.

I stack my 2x Steadicam cases, suitcase, and Battery case on top of it and roll my way up to the ticket counter.

While they’re weighing and tagging the other cases, I pull the Travel Bag out of the cart and pack the wheels up inside. Slide the travel bag on and that’s my last piece of luggage. At Baggage Claim on the other side, reverse the process and stack the cases up.

I can roll out of the airport with one hand! All in, it costs me $100 one-way because of the Delta Diamond benefits (3 free under 70lbs) and the lightweight cart.

cart travel

Accessories & Special Features

I customized the top shelf with adhesive rubber diamond plate on its underside (what becomes the lid) so I can stack cases on the collapsed cart and it acts as an anti-skid.

Favorite Component Of Workstation

I love the new 8″ tires on the Voyager30 while maintaining the small travel-friendly footprint. I can also see the Threaded Rail Plates and Cable Pass-through coming in quite handy.

A Time When Your Workstation Got You Through A Challenge

When I left for the Super Bowl LII, I was also packing for an extra 2 weeks in South Korea at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. So, naturally I had a lot of stuff. In fact, I supplied two complete duplicate Steadicam Kits for the Super Bowl and duplicates for backup at Olympics.

I had to part ways with my Super Bowl Assistant in Minneapolis and meet up with my Olympic Assistant who went to South Korea in advance, but that meant I had no help flying with me.

My little Scout31 supported cases and luggage stacked 5 levels high on top of it, and I rolled my way one-handed right into South Korea.

Olympic inovativ cart

Follow The Adventures Of Orlando SteadiCam