Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Art of Dollygrippery.

On set the other day when the topic of "teaching the art of Dolly Grippery" came up. I also bring this up as I noticed that Local 80 in LA is running a course, which I'd love to take, however, I'm on the wrong coast right now.

SteadiCam has options for courses (Maine, thru SOA in Philly, Malibu Classic, etc) but we on the whole don't. Pushing dolly was something that I was thrust into. I had no "teacher", just an operator screaming at me. I started with a real dolly, not a doorway or some plywood with a stick, but an Elemack Cricket hydraulic (without the cable boom extension). Now a boat anchor, but back then a workhorse, as most productions couldn't afford the "new" Pee Wee I.

Most of the stuff I've learned has been the common sense stuff ie: put marks on the inside facing the shot so as not have to look away from the actors you're leading or mark the front tires if there's any chance of dog tracking, etc.

But trying to teach the "feeling" is another side of the coin. Having rhythm is a big thing and it follows in to timing. Example: I know for a fact that if I'm faced with a difficult stand up, that most times, once I see the actor start to get up, I'll actually close my eyes, knowing to stop on the height mark only by knowing how long it takes the boom to go up when I've got it open a certain amount. I've tried to fight it, but most times instinct comes into play and overides.

Just learning to walk is another. How to avoid surges while stepping over track and wedges. How not to go insane trying to make a 2 foot move last 2 minutes. Or on the other hand, how not to make a nine foot move on an 8ft piece of track.

The feeling of nailing a complex move is always a great high, one that you'll most likely not share with anyone on set (other than the camera operator who expects nothing less from you). Also knowing when a shot falls apart and knowing how to fix it.

I've kinda gone all over the place here but one can learn to lay track; can one "learn" to push the buggy? Now Grasshopper - snatch the wedge from my hand...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Week One

Sorry about the dearth of activity, but internet connection at my house here is spotty. The first week of my show is going well. The DP, Andrew Dunn is great, as well as the Camera Operator, Will Arnot and the AC, Matt Alper. Storms have kept us on stage when we were supposed to be out and that has resulted in the dreaded night on stage phenomenon.
I did an interesting shot today which I'd like to post about. It involves "roundy-round." Most of the time, you think of roundy as a way to do, well, circular shots, such as around a table. Roundy can also get you out of some tricky situations where space is limited. Our shot today involved a boom up as an actor approached, coupled with a 180 degree pan with im and a pul back into an "over" to an actress in another room. The space we were in was very limited, so after thinking about it, we decided the best way was to use the roundy to pan the actor around into the over. This is one of my favorite shots to do because it's a challenge and the shot is really in the hands of the Dolly Grip. So next time you're in a tight situation, consider using your roundy to get out of it. I'll post again when I can.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Dario Dolly?

Terry Cook, who is with Griptech in Sydney has a question about maintaining a Dario Dolly. He asks about tightening the chains etc. I know nothing about this machine which I believe is Italian. He's asking for some help, so if anyone knows about this dolly, please post in the comments. This is the kind of thing this site is for, so help if you can!