Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Double Tap

  Something happened today which gave me an idea for a post. Since I have a long turnaround (a week of days into a Friday night exterior) I find myself with a few hours to fill up while I try to force myself into nights. Anyway, the inspiration was an actor committing what I call a double tap. I was pulling back with an actor as he lurched toward, then descended a small staircase. We'd done a couple of rehearsals and at least two takes. No problem. He lurches, I start the pullback. and he stops. He Stops. For about a second, then goes into his descent down the stairs. By this time I was a good two feet further than I should have been, but there was nothing to do but slow down and keep going. This is a double tap, when an actor appears to commit to a movement and suddenly pauses before actually committing. It most often happens on stand-ups or sit-downs. He or she will lean forward, my fingers start to turn  the boom control in anticipation. The actor's knees tense. His head starts to rise. The knob turns and the camera ascends in perfect synch with his head. Then, he stops. He settles back, and shoots up in frame toward the ceiling. Except he's not in frame because we left him long ago on our journey upward. At this point I shake my head and fling my arms outward in frustration. I learned long ago that there is nothing you can do about a double tap. They are usually committed by relatively inexperienced actors and hopefully, after the second or third time it happens, the operator or DP will gently explain to them the situation. In any case, if you get double tapped, it's not your fault. Let it go until they get it right.
  I've been watching and enjoying Mindhunter on Netflicks. It's a beautifully written and shot show that reminds me of True Detective's first season, only a little less tedious and with a little more humor. The  dolly work by Dwayne Barr is stellar in addition to the operating by my old friend Brian Osmond. I  mean really flawless and my hat's off. Nice work!

  Ok, time for another cup of coffee as I head deeper into the night.

D

Friday, September 01, 2017

Hi Guys

Well, here we are. It's been a while since I've turned up a bottle and joined you. A lot has happened over the last few (or many) months. As always the demands of family and work have taken priority over the writing. I now have a six year old boy destroying the house and a twenty-one year old daughter spending the tuition. As you can imagine, the time for inspiration and writing about the glories of the craft of camera movement have been supplanted (I had to look that one up) by just grinding out a paycheck. Never fear, I am still with you. I've been on the Marvel train for a while. In between, I've done a couple of less than admirable shows just for the paycheck (patio furniture, bedroom suite) and have done a couple of posts just as placeholders to let you know that I'm still here. I know that useful technical info has been at a minimum. Honestly, guys, I'm drained. I do have a lot of ideas for posts that I will get around to when my son makes Eagle Scout, but till then we are selling popcorn to pay for the overnight on the aircraft carrier (Den 7). In the meantime, here are some things: Precision track is heavy as shit. I've used Filmair on, like, 20 movies. It's fine. Save yourself the trouble. Also, I tried the Hybrid 4. I really dislike it. I'm still a Hustler 4 guy. Also, you don't "need" a Peewee 4. The Super Peewee 3 is just fine. Also, I still hate seat offsets. Get a Banjo seat. Flat stock sux. Arri geared head levels have never been accurate and never will be. And, I've decided to leave the dance floor cart loaded and strapped off, because life is too short. Along the same lines: Dear set decorators, we will never see the two-inch thick rug on the floor. Thank you all.
D

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Logan

  I've always been an X-Men fan. Especially Wolverine. I have the Wolverine Limited Edition circa 1985. I won't get into the fanboy crap about (spoiler) Wolverine dying. Well, a little. I thought it was stupid. Although I get the whole worn out, aging superhero thing and totally get this version. Come on. Anyway the thing that most excited me about this movie as I watched it was the classic visual style of storytelling. There wasn't any bullshit handheld "let's reinvent the wheel" style of moviemaking here. It was very well done dolly and crane work that told the story without drawing attention to itself (except to an old Dolly Grip). We all know the deal: fight scenes are handheld. It's refreshing to see a movie that doesn't fall into the old(or new) trap of handheld fight scenes that are unfollowable and messy. It's bad film making. Doing a picture handheld isn't "edgy." It's lazy. That's what made Logan such a pleasure to watch. Nice job, guys. It was a beautiful picture to watch and refreshing to see some classic camera moves.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Fisher Open House!



I got it, Frank!

Friday, May 05, 2017

Alien Dudes Talk About Alien

This is a really cool video I found about the guys who did the creature effects for a lot of the Alien movies. In honor of Alien: Covenant coming out soon, I've decided to link to it here. My buddy Scott Sakamoto was the operator. I'm looking forward to this movie a lot in the hope that it will erase the bad taste that Prometheus left in my mouth. What a horrible movie that was. Let's all hope for the best.Check it out.




/www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7T2s0yDWWQ

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Stabileye

  A movie I did last year is about to open big next week. When I signed on to Guardians Vol 2, I knew immediately it was going to be different than any other job I had ever done. The DP, Henry, and James, the director, had decided to shoot primarily with a handheld stabilization system called Stabileye. So I knew right off the bat that I wasn't going to be spending my time behind a Hustler like I usually do. Yes, we had the dollies. My usual Hustler 4 and a Peewee 3, but they rarely worked. Instead we had a new stabilization system called the Stabileye. Those of you who have used the Movee have a general idea of how this works. The Stabileye is like a Movee on steroids. It's not prosumer. It's designed by a former Libra tech, the brilliant David Freeth, and is designed specifically for feature filmmaking. I've used both systems and can tell you that the Stabileye is the ultimate handheld device for dolly grips to use on feature films. The Movee, although I have used it on high budget features, often falls short. The Stabileye is quite simply the state of the art handheld stabilization device for feature filmmaking. While it does have it's eccentricities and can glitch out at times, it does get the job done. We shot around 80% of Guardians 2 on it and the rest on Technocrane (from the good people at Cinemoves) and a small portion handheld. We did drag the dollies out every now and then for plates. The Twindolly from Solid Grip Systems achieved some great shots especially in the jungle type settings. Thanks to Onno for his generosity and brilliant design. Henry, the DP brought in his British key grip, Paul Hymns. He worked alongside Alan Rawlins, our American key grip.  There was a little confusion in mixing the American system with the British, but we made it work and Paul became one of my favorite people in the world. He's a fantastically talented grip and a good dude. He and I often shared duties on camera.. The Stabileye techs, Tim Dean and Joe Marsden became good friends and their technical expertise and great personalities made a lot of tedious days easier to get through. I made some good friends on this show.
Go see it. It's good.

PS: Here is a link to some behind the scenes stuff that shows the Stabileye in action.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmOoBloa090

PPS This is the Next Day Sober Rewrite.

Friday, April 21, 2017

That's A Wrap on the Marvel Picture that I'm Not Sure I can Name!

   As Azurgrip said, the NDA is a mighty frightening thing. Therefore I will just say this. It was a movie about a cat with big claws in an African country. We shot for for months and used a variety of camera support devices including: The Chapman Hustler 4 dolly, my favorite. This machine never fails to deliver. It's just a well made dolly. The arm is superior and it tracks well. The Super Peewee 3; I don't even worry about this one. It does what it should. From my friends at Cinemoves, the Supertechno 50', the and the Moviebird 35'/45'. As well as their new detachable Movee. All of these devices performed well under the most trying of conditions. We shot in the water, the heat, and the cold and they all came through. Of course there were some glitches as there always are, but the guys worked them out. Thanks to my old friend and pickle guy Mike Howell, his tech, Henry, and, as always, head tech Kenny Rivenbark. The Oculus performed spectacularly and we achieved some fantastic shots. Thanks everyone from Chapman and Cinemoves! I could not do my job without you.