Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Votes Are In

The polls are closed on the "What Do You Work On" poll. Television and features are tied, with commercials edging them out by one. Music videos, which most of us do every now and then in the down time, attracted one vote. Thanks for participating. It helps me get a picture of who's out there.
My feature goes another 4 days and then it's done. I start a 3 week pilot around mid- October and then I got nothing lined up. I imagine we will soon be entering the Holiday slowdown which usually lasts until February.
I read an interesting news report about a huge motion picture union strike in India. As you probably know, India produces more movies than any other country. Apparently, techs had been working up to 30 hour days in some cases, which has my longest day beat by about 2 hours. Maybe Gripworks can fill us in on the details.
The job I'm on (for the last 3 months) has involved a large amount of Techno work. Weve had the 30' every day as well as appearances by the 15' and the 50'. We noticed early on a propensity the Libra head had to vibrate when at a 45 degree angle from the arm on a scope move. This caused no end of headaches and discussions. The Libra just has a "dead" spot where this phenomenon occurs although it has seemed worse on this job than most. We tried switching out arms and heads but got the same result and according to both head techs, it's just something the Libra folks haven't quite beaten yet. I've used the Libra many times over the years and have never noticed it (other than the normal occasional glitches and buzzes the head goes through every now and then). About a week ago, we switched the arm out again on the 30' and I ended up with one of those tight "frictiony" arms that pans as if the brakes are on. This has always been my complaint about Technos in general is that every one I get seems to have a lot of resistance on the pan, making it hard to finesse a move. The one we started out the show on, though, was sweet. You could pan it with your pinky and it was a pleasure to use. The replacement was crap. Pan it and stop it and it would settle back. Anyway, enough of my complaining. I'm off tonight while they're pre-lighting, so I'll be around.


Anonymous said...

Good morning D ~ Catching up on your blog. I always enjoy reading it and learning something.

Anonymous said...

the newer scorpion techno is really sweet to use...nice movement, totally enclosed, no need for the painful rain cover!

The Grip Works said...

Hi D,
The strike in India has been a long time coming. We make approximately 1000 features a year, and tons of television and commercials. The Grip, Lighting and Set construction departments are represented by one union. A VERY strong union. By and large the union does not interfere with the workings of production, and is fairly flexible. But trouble was stirred up with some TV producers consistently working brutally long hours and not paying the Grip & Electric crews overtime. After a few protests fell on deaf years, the Union decided that enough was enough and flexed their substantial muscle. All filming has come to a grinding halt. There is no camera rolling in the entire length and breadth of this sub-continent. The support has been breathtaking and has the producers reeling. I have never worked on a TV show but I know the work is really hard and the deals the producers make with the crew are brutal, but to renege even on these deals is really unfair. So we all threw our toolbelts down. And the other unions (cinematographers, art dept, hair and makeup, stunts ) all supported the strike and have gone off work.
We are all happy to support the industry but when it turns abusive we have to make ourselves heard.

Anonymous said...

I was not aware the Libra had this problem you describe. Was there any possibility/discussion/attempt to use a different type of head entirely? Like a SAS, Scorpio, or Flight Head? Or perhaps there was something specific to the Libra that made it the only tool for the job?

the grip works--
Interesting to hear about the work over there. I hope things will be pleasantly resolved soon. Also, great post; I agree with you 100% on everything you said re crews and how they're treated.


The Grip Works said...

The Motion Picture Technicians Union strike is over. The producers union met our union and a compromise was worked out. Everyone is happy.

D said...

Hi DW, I had never had this problem with it either. It may have just been some weird combination of head and arm or maybe we just kept doing shots that stuck it on that particular angle ( the DP does tend to set a frame and allow the crane arm to carry it to a certain point and we did quite a few shots on stationary objects where it would have stuck out more than usual)As far as using the Libra, it is a matter , probably, of it still being the most used stabilized head, at least in my experience. It's become the go-to head for a lot of people because it's the first one they think of when they need gyros and the techs are very well known among DP's and operators. I like the Scorpio a lot but just don't see it as much.
Gripworks- thanks for the update. If only our union in America stuck up for each other that way.We've got a possible SAG srtike coming at the worst possible time it could happen. It's going to make a LOT of people mad especially since SAG has never offered support to craft unions in the past.It's going to be interesting.

Anonymous said...


at least you have a Union!

Over here we are on our own pretty much exept for a Big media Union wich has no real power on the productions (though it's getting better).

But recently the work safety agency in Berlin has terminated a Night shooting on a TV series because of too long working hours. At least the federal officials care when somebody points them to the lawbreaking productions.

On my just finished TV 90 min. I was lucky that the main actress was insisting on her beauty sleep so we had no turnaround problems..
I heard you have 10hours turnaround in the US!? We have 11 from the moment we park our trucks in the evening till we drive off in the morning.

Greets Dan

Wick said...


Are you BvB-Mitglied? If not, get in touch. Contract negotiations are starting next year.

(Sorry for hijacking the comments)


Anonymous said...

Hey D -When the Libra had the trouble what was the angle in relation to the arm..12 oclock being in line with the arm 3 being 90 degrees to the right. And if the problem was in tilt or roll. Do you know if it was a Libra 5 or perhaps the Blue Strip...Anytime you hear the head singing while the crane is not moving the gains are turned up too high. This is fine for camera car work but not needed for the techno. They are working on major improvements and are constantly looking for feedback on set issues. Will pass on the info and it would help if I knew what version the head was. As for the pan, it sounds like the crane needs to have new pan bearing installed or the pan lock is not fully releasing and the crane is rotating on the acme screw that raises the post. This can happen if the pan lock has been over tightened..and this causes it to never fully release. If this happens to you again make sure the pan lock is off pan the arm and look at the 24mm nut that is on the center post that raises the post up and down, pan the arm and if that is rotating while you move the arm it is not releasing or the pan bearing is bad. Make them fix it if its going to be on set with you..Poor maintenence is the biggest problem as cranes age. Best Regards to you ...
-Kenny R.

D said...

Hey Kenny- I think it was the 5. The camera would have been at between 2 and 3 o'clock with a downward tilt. We tried gain up, gain down, gyros on gyros off and two different heads as well as two arms with the same results. We also had two different very good head techs (the guys from "Pirates" etc. I've never seen this problem before and the techs said we just keep endeing up in that 45 degree position with a scope move that did it. As far as the arm goes. I registered my complaint (It was someone else's arm that my techno tech got to check out the head problem and it is being reworked.) Thanks for the insights.