Sunday, October 26, 2008

Class is Over

I just finished my Advanced Rigging class (2 days, 6 hours each). For those of you not in a West Coast local, a few years back all the studios got together and decided that the techs who worked on their shows needed some kind of official safety training. The result was the safety passport training program. It's a series of classes offered to below-the-line employees that are required within a certain amount of time to remain elegible to work. You get a nifty little "passport" and a new sticker in it for every class you complete. Right off the bat, the grips and electrics had a whole battery of classes they had to finish before a certain date. Things like High Fall Protection and Aerial/Scissor Lift Rigging. Even Script Supervisors and DP's had a series of classes to take. Mostly things like Hazard Communication and General Safety. I actually think that in spirit it's a good idea. In execution, however, it sometimes gets a little dicey. Things taught in one class are refuted in another. Some things they teach you to do are entirely unsuited for the film industry. These classes also led to a large number of sightings of grips and electrics driving condors with a harness on and the basket three feet off the ground. I'll never forget during a condor rigging class, the instructor informed us that no one was ever to be under a condor with a 12x12 frame rigged on it. He then proceeded to show us the proper way to rig a frame horizontally off the basket to be deployed over the set. I asked about the incongruity of this and was told not to ask. The Advanced Rigging Class I finished today, though, was really well taught and I learned way more than I ever wanted to about rigging. We had mathematical formulas for calculating center of gravity and sling angles and wind resistance. I did trigonometry for the first time in years (and was as bad as I remember). I really enjoyed our instructor and came away with a new respect for Key Riggers. Generally, we enter these classes under protest and groan through them as we're taught things we've been doing twenty years. But we also learn the things we've been doing wrong for twenty years, which is a little jarring. Anyway, to recap, the classes are a good idea, just a little disjointed in how they fit together. Maybe this will help get the grips out of the "unskilled labor" category. For those of you who haven't taken the latest one, you have until November 30 and they are filling up.
By the way, Michael over at is running a great series on making a pilot from the ground up. Check it out.


Chris said...

I completed my "R" class on Saturday. Glad it's over!

Anonymous said...

Hey D,
Interesting to hear about the class. All things considered, I think it's a good idea, even with the fact that their may be contradicting ideas/principles/practices from one place to another. A big part of this profession is seeing what works best for you, and if more that one acceptable way works, all the better. Here on the east coast, there really isn't any kind of classes requirement, aside from Local 52, where an aerial lift training certificate (class) is required. Outside of that, there is nothing else. I'd like to see more formal instruction -- the important thing to remember is that the overall learning experience is primary; taking everything that is said in every class to the letter is not.

So, any gems you can impart on us from your rigging class??


D said...

Congrats CB
Hi DW, Here are a few- Never sideload a compression member.
Screw bolt in shackles until the shoulder seats.
The "tail" of a bowline knot should be toward the loop. That's a few that I remember being stressed over and over. It was a LOT of stuff.

createbmx said... - I picked up this beauty a few months back. Read it in one day. Most of the information is formulas and charts that you needn't memorize. It's small enough to bring with you, and is great to hand out to "those certain" grips that like to sit down.

My local should be offering classes soon, and I can't wait to take them, so I answer "yes" to "are you certified to use that?", even though I know very well how to use a scissor lift.

The Grip Works said...

Hi createbmx,
your link went to a page that asked for a password.
I think certification is a great system to have. As long as it is done with a good helping of common sense. Almost 2 decades ago I was a commercial diver. I used to work on underwater maintenance of oil pipelines. When I moved to grip work, as a trainee, we were working on a movie in the UK, where they had a really experienced key rigging grip, with years of underwater experience. He was not a commercial diver though, and the producers insisted I "supervise" the rigging. I had zero experience and had no clue what I was supposed to be doing. But in their eyes, I was the man for the job.

Unknown said...

As the demands of lifting materials with heavier weights are now being required, manufacturers of scissor Lifts have introduced bigger capacity scissor lifts and they are sometimes integrated into automobiles such as pick-up trucks and vans and they would usually have a capacity of 10,000 lbs with height ranges of up to 20ft.