To help get my mind off the looming dearth of income, I've decided to type about whatever came to mind first. In this case, the use of lasers for hitting marks. A lot of guys do it, there's nothing wrong with it. Most often you see them for crane shots, and they can be handy. Personally, I tend to be rather low-tech (because I'm a college graduate and can't add fractions). For crane work I like to use line-of-site to find my marks but will occasionally throw down a chalk mark for reference. When I can, on crane shots, I always work the front (camera) end, and have a bucket man for the high part of the shot. Part of the reason for this (even when the bucket is low enough to operate it) is that often there is added movement in the low position and the crane shot morphs into a dolly shot, and I liketo be as close to camera as I can get. I get a line of sight on the mag or lens and some landmark (a tree limb, downspout etc.) When there is no such reference, I'll use a laser to home in on a mark, but I personally dislike doing this because I find myself concentrating more on where the laser is and less on what the actors are doing and it tends to throw off my timing. Azurgrip mentioned this in a post earlier. Sometimes you just have to let go and trust yourself to know when you're there.
Every now and then an AC will attach a laser to the dolly for a particularly difficult focus pull. I always tease them about it as if they don't trust me (because with the laser, EVERYONE can see how far off your mark you are). On track, this is fine. But on dance floor it doesn't work as well because the back end of the dolly tends to shift around during movement and unless the laser is on the same side as the wheel I'm marking, it will be off, even though I'm on my mark with the front wheel. I know, some people are asking, "why don't both of you just go off the laser?" And sometimes I do, but on multi -point dance floor moves, I have to have marks that I can see and sometimes switch wheels for a particular stopping point. Also, lasers tend to get bumped. I should say they always get bumped, throwing off everything if no one notices it. I once worked with a grip who wanted to move up to pushing dolly and he showed me all this stuff he had went out and bought. He had spent hundreds of dollars on lasers, cartellini mounts, monitors, etc. I opened my mouth and then shut it and said, "that's great!" I later replaced him on two jobs because he was always looking at something besides what was happening in front of the camera and couldn't keep his timing. Develop the skills, then get the fancy stuff.
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Great post again D!
I made my way through laser land but the laser is sitting in my toolbox since many years now I don't even know if it's still working.
I also where in Monitorland, but recently I only looked on the monitor of the AC every now and then for overs that's it. I gave my monitor to my girlfriend (costume dpt.) she needs it more frequently to check the framing for clothing that is in shot.
For crane shots I just throw a box or a wedge under the front joint of the crane that's it.
I also tend to operate the Arm from the front (much better communication to the operator), I even did some shots where I started the move from one end and switched to the other to finish it. If the second (my assistent) wasn't experienced enough to pull it.
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