Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dollies Can't Move Like A Person

I should get a t-shirt that says that and wear it to work every day. By this statement I mean that you can't make upwards of 800 lbs of operator, camera, and machine change direction or stop and start as fast as a person can. Lately, I've had a couple of situations where I needed to start moving with an actor, cross a room and land with them. The problem was that they had four big steps to their mark and I had 9 feet to mine and they started off like they were shot out of a cannon. By the time I got good and going, they were already there resulting in an unmotivated dramatic push in on them at the end while I raced to catch up. Another hard trick is keeping your wheels set to hold an over- the -shoulder and going into that kind of move. You have to hold it as long as you think you can get away with before you start turning the wheels for your takeoff and hope they don't block themselves before they move. Usually actors are good sports once they realize what you need. I've never had one refuse to help out by taking a little speed off their takeoff.
I have a split at Warner Brothers tonight. It's going to be cold.


Anonymous said...

Hi D,
Was struggling to reply to this post, I think there was something wrong with the server maybe?
Regarding holding an over and then turning the wheels to follow an actor, I find a lot of operators are happy if I give them a 3ft overkeeper (slider) in those situations so they can do the compensation themselves and I can do the push in. Of course you have some operators who dont want to have the slider on at all.

Anonymous said...

Death to the overkeeper.
No Cap Lock

Unknown said...

Hi Sanjay, You are, of course correct. I tend to keep overkeepers off the dolly if I can because they are just so unwieldy while rolling around and this show tends to keep me in tight quarters. At this point, I use them mainly when there's no room to adjust the dolly and it's locked off. My operator doesn't especially like to use them much either so I turn it into a game to see how far I can push the envelope. Thanks for the input.
Southern- a lot of people share your view. I'm not necessarily one of them, I just try not to overuse it.

Anonymous said...

I agree D, Its not my favourite tool, but it helps in the specific situation you mentioned here. Sometimes (if the operator is okay with it) it takes away the guesswork if you need to wait that one second longer before turning your wheels in the next direction of travel. The problem with using the slider, is if you have a few points of travel and one of them is along the direction the slider is pointed in, you can track the camera during your start and stop if the operator does not lock it off once it has done its work as an overkeeper.
Southern Grip- Glad to see you have a strong opinion on sliders :)

Azurgrip said...

I'm on a show where all I am on is a 3' slider with an "airhead" (more on that later). No moves at all, yet. I'm either on the dolly, or schlepping around a bazooka - speaking of which, which is your favorite and why? I'm a fan of the Moy - especially the pneumatic riser.

Anonymous said...

I had a Moy Bazooka set and loved it, one of the most flexible pieces of kit I ever saw. I didn't have their pneumatic column and don't remember why not, but I did have a screw level section. Good for small adjustments in close spaces. GFM is now making a gas cylinder that looks pretty good. I believe you can adjust the pressure for different payloads (it's a shop adjustment and is mainly for 35 / 16 / Digicam variances, not small changes).

I worked with some airheads, too, and on both sides of the lens :)

D said...

Our show has an old one the Key Grip bought off of Shatmaker when the had a bankruptcy sale or something. I don't know who made it but it's huge and weighs about 100 lbs in the case. It does have a two tiered gas riser that's very nice. Topped off with a Panther swinging offset. Azurgrip, I always hate shows like that, or one's that are all handheld. They can get very monotonous.

Anonymous said...

I have 3 different types of bazookas. One that I make myself, which is a Mitchell / Euro boss combi system, Its nice because you can use the base to either take Mitchell risers or euro boss risers , both of which I make at my machine shop.
I also have Panther Pneumatic risers. My favourite though is the Ronford Baker Bazooka. It is incredibly strong, rigid and lightweight. It has a crank operated riser that can lift the entire camera package. It has the smartest release and lock system for mitchell risers that I have seen till date - no more castle nuts !

Anonymous said...

I never used a slider on a tracking shot.

The sliders we have here in Germany are the big and bulky Panther/Movietech/G-F-M U-Bangis wich are way to big to use them as an overkeeper.

So I do the overkeeping and just try to get the wheels turned in time.

Bazookawise I haven't found one of german Production that really works perfect. The best gas charged bazooka is the G-F-M variant. But it needs an euro boss of the right size (there seem to be slight differences between manufacturers) to clamp firmly without a wiggle.

Has anybody used the Griptech Bazooka Base?

It looks quite promising especially with the scaffold option (good for stairs).

Greetz danworx