Montclair Magazine May 2022 - Page 24


On Track to Get Killer Shots Ron Travisano ’ s RailCam Robotic Systems puts cameras where humans can ’ t go WRITTENBYKAITLYN KANZLER

When Taylor Swift was

scheduled to perform at the
2019 Billboard Awards , the
show ’ s producers had a specific vision of how they wanted her to look on stage : A camera bearing a small teleprompter needed to come close to her face while a “ pretty light ” shined on her . Who knew how to do that ? The producers knew exactly who to call : RailCam Robotic Systems , co-owned by Montclair native Ron Travisano . RailCam provides , installs and operates tracking , winches , wires , towers and other equipment to support cameras in places where photographers can ’ t go during live performances . “ Maybe it ’ s up in the ceiling or lighting grid , or maybe it ’ s behind a set piece and there ’ s no room for a person ,” Travisano explains . Their work makes it possible to get those high-angle shots at Victoria ’ s Secret fashion shows , steady coverage when the audience bounces around at the Grammys , and close-ups at Super Bowl halftime shows .
( RailCam solved the Taylor Swift challenge using a combination of a lightweight monitor mounted on a camera and dimmable LED lights built onto a light piece of plastic .)
Travisano and his business partners , Brian Sheid and Rick Compeau ,
came together to form RailCam Robotic Systems in 2016 . “ People will always say , how did you get into this ?” Travisano says . “ Each opportunity opens itself up to another opportunity , and you get tothe top of the ladder . You just keep climbing .”
Travisano started his climb when he was young . In the ’ 80s , while attending Glen Ridge High School in the morning , he took classes at Montclair ’ s School of Performing Arts in the afternoon , studying acting , video production and editing , still photography and film analysis . “ It got me out of some academics I was having trouble with and helped me focus on my talents ,” he says .
“ Before I started at SPA , I had Cs , Ds and an Ffor grades . Bymysenior year , I hit honor roll . All the interest helped me accelerate in the harder classes .”
He gained experience as a production assistant on set at Ithaca College , and started his career as a first assistant cameraman working in commercials . Sheid says he met Travisano when he was inhis 20s , and that they ’ ve developed an enormous amount of trust ineach other . He is continually impressed by his intensity and knowledge . “ When there ’ s a technical challenge or task that he ’ s trying to wrap his head around , it ’ s like everything else tunnel-visions ,” Sheid says .
Travisano says he , Sheid and Compeau were all technicians in the industry for several years before they formed the company ; this helped them tap into established connections . RailCam ’ s first big break came when they were hired to provide coverage infrastructure for Beyonce ’ s The Formation World Tour in 2016 . Soon after , the fledgling company provided equipment for the Victoria ’ s Secret Fashion Show and The Academy Awards . “ I mean , it ’ s a pretty good start ,” Travisano says .
Big shows often present big challenges to camera operators .“ You find yourself in very strange places ,”