Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Quirks

We've all got our own way of doing things. From laying track to how we like our boom control set up, Dolly Grips are a pretty diverse bunch. I enjoy watching other guys work when I dayplay or fill in on B camera on a show. I like seeing how other Dolly Grips set up their gear and their actual technique. As far as personal quirks go, I have a few: I dislike seat offsets. I think they are dangerous and over used. I rarely use pie pieces in dance floors. I've managed to make it through the last few years without ever using one until this show. I'm not even sure why I dislike them, I just do. (In the interest of honesty, I did break a 10 year streak and also use a seat offset for one shot on this show. My camera operator is a great guy and a fantastic operator; he's also 7 feet tall and there was no way out of it). I always use white one-inch gaffer's tape for my marks. I make the number one mark about four inches long and the number two mark about 10 inches long. If I have a bunch of marks and need to differentiate one of them, say the end mark, to keep from getting confused, I'll tear a piece of the tape in half so it's 1/2" wideand use it for that mark. I can tell by glancing at it that it's special without having to mark a number on it with a Sharpie. These are just a few of my things. What are some of yours?
I know I'm slow in posting these days. Again I apologize and hope to be back up to normal when this job ends.

PS I owe a quick apology to AJ. For some reason, I keep wanting to refer to her beautifully written blog as "The Hills Are On Fire" instead of it's real name The Hills Are Burning. I don't know why this is, but I have corrected it.

12 comments:

CHRIS said...

I LOVE THE PIE PIECE WHEN USING DANCEFLOOR.

IT GIVES YOU THAT LITTLE EXTRA WITHOUT HAVING TO GO UNDER COUCHES AND TABLES WITH A FULL 4X4 OR 4X8 GOD FORBID.

SEAT OFFSETS DON'T BUG ME SOMETIMES IT'S YOUR ONLY OPTION TO HAVE THE OP HANGING OFF THE FRONT OF THE DOLLY.

JUST LOAD UP THE OPPOSITE SIDE WITH A BUNCH OF SANDBAGS AND AWAY YOU GO

.

I DON'T LIKE A BIG TAPEROLL ON THE DOLLY 1 COLOR AS LONG AS IT IS NOT THE SAME USED FOR THE ACTORS.

danworx said...

I use any color as long as it's Blue.
Short 2 inch marks with a folded end.

I haven't used Dancefloor since 8 Month... Don't miss it at all.

We either go on the original floor (with softwheels) or on track. Lot's of circle tracks though...

No time for dancefloor on our tight TV schedule...

Greetz

danworx

ps. one week left of my seven month job and looking forward to get home.

Greetings to all and happy dolly pushing...

D said...

Thanks Chris and Dan. Congrats and welcome home. Hope you have a well desrved rest.
D

A.J. said...

Eh, "Fire," "Burning"... Close enough. :)

As for dolly marks, I once watched a guy use large tape "V" marks whenever he was on straight track so he always knew how long he had until his end mark. I always wondered how many rolls of tape he'd go through in a show...

GHB said...

I also love to watch other dolly grips work and pick up tips and ideas from them. One thing about this business is there's always something new to learn.

As far as marks go, I have a system that works really good that I stole from a great friend of mine and an awesome dolly grip. We use 1/2" paper tape. one red, one white and one blue. Red is always 1 (the first mark), white is 2...and so on. when we get to 4 or 5 I either double up the tape or use shorter lengths. I find myself doing 5 to 8 point dance floor moves on a daily basis so having just one color is too confusing for me. I like to take my bad memory out of the equation. The color system works pretty good. My B-Dolly grip can also step in at anytime if I have to run out for a minute and perform the shot no problem because he uses the same system and it's a good guide track. I recommend this system for newer dolly grips. It really takes the guessing out of some of the harder shots. And three rolls of 1/2" paper tape don't take up any more space on the tape roll than one roll of 1". Because I also hate a bug bulky tape roll hanging off the dolly. If you're using a Chapman dolly, the color system can also apply to boom marks since the marks they provide come in these colors, too.

I always carry a pie piece. Usually just a very small one. Probably have used it twice in ten years. Plus it's always a late addition and I'm forced to use it instead of some director just asking the actor to hit their mark as opposed to walking three feet past it and forcing me to drive the dolly into some far off region that we'd never planned to go. And I always build a bigger dance floor than originally required because shots always evolve as we all know.

My other quirk is one that causes much head scratching on set. I always use only a little 6" level that goes in my pocket. I level every track run with it. When I break it out and start working, people laugh and ridicule me all the time, but I just tell them that gravity is gravity and I promise the track will be level. But let me tell you how great it is to level an 80 foot run with it and have it be dead on straight. drives people crazy....

Lastly, one of my favorite recurring topics of this blog is D's complete and total disdain for the seat offset. Makes me laugh all the time. Mostly because I use one all the time and never really thought about not using one until I started reading this.

You crack me up, dude....

D said...

Great system GHB! Thanks for the tips.
Frakin' seat offsets.

Dcitroni said...

I'm not a fan of the seat offset either. And counter weight ticks me off. If Fisher or Chapman intended the dolly to be used that way I'm sure they would have a counter weight attachment to rent.

For marking during blocking I use Chalk and roman numerials. Then Transfer to tape and Sharpie with standard numbers.
The color of tape varies. Just as long as it's not an actors color.

Somehow in my years as a 3rd I never watched how a dolly grip worked and set his stuff up.
I'd watch from the monitor if at all.
Oh how I wish I had paid attention!!!.
GBH I just was saying the samething to Tony Marra how I'd like to push b- cam so I can see how others solve problems.

And Sean if you read this. My spot on Tony's Truck reads.
"Dino, Not quite Sean Devine"
Gotta love it!

onno said...

Hello All,

I have a full set of seat extensions for my PantherEvolution and they are still as new (= never used), I simply hate them and there seems to be no need for them.

Same as dancefloors, I have some available and have used it 7 years ago. Last week there was a shoot with an urgent request for a dancefloor but no time, so a run down on the existing floor. It was a nogo, even the VFX-supervisor could not fix it in post. A couple of my curved tracks, running on one tube only, and the airtires fully deflated, did the job(running with the left wheel on the right tube while the left tube is scissored away), so far Dancefloors....

Markings: In the nowadays hectic of commercials and politics there is no use for markers, the positions (both of the dolly and the decision-makers ha-ha) keep changing. I memorize the position of the dolly in refrence of the track or the floor, there is no other way, the rushers (DOP, operators/ 1stAD) don't give you the time to do your job. Besides that a simple push in can easily change into an in-and-out-and-in-and....

till here,

good luck,

Onno

D said...

Thanks Dino. Someone shares my disdain for the seat offset! Chapman actually rents out that counterweight thing for Peewees for the camera offset but I immediately send it back. Thanks for the tips!
Onno- It's good to hear from you. It's been a while. Shooting styles must be different in Europe. 75% of my work is dance floor. I like working fast and loose sometimes too, but it takes some getting used to. Thanks for the comments!

Azurgrip said...

My tape marking method is more along the lines of Arthur Murray. I used 1/2" paper tape (floro pink / floro orange / yellow). I will start with one colour, then if things change, switch to another colour to show the changes, then I will neaten up. I will generally drop an arrow / triangle to differenciate from the focus puller's marks, but will also add tape lines to the mark (I'm a big fan of converging lines!) so I can be watching them out of the corner of my eye. And if the next mark is hiding under the dolly chassis, I'll leave a tape line in the next direction.

mark c said...

I also use the red, white and blue {velcro boom arrows} system. Not sure who I learned it from but is always easy to remember when boom heights are moving constantly. (You'll never forget that color sequence) I use only 1" white gaff tape on the floor with sharpie number marks because cam asst. tend to use every other color in the rainbow. It seems to cut down confusion, then all on set knows which are dolly marks and which are not. I always ride with a dance floor pie piece, just finished a long show and used it just once. After the first take camera made some adjustments and we never came close to rolling on it. What a shame, for the pie.

Jonathan Bowerbank said...

I'm an AC/Cam Op, and the seat offset always kinda freaks me out if I'm hanging off to the side without a counter weight :/