We're about to start our third week (in a split, no less) and the first one was pretty tough. What made it tougher was the lack of enough prep. I got one day. One (10 hour) day to prep two dollies and make sure all the parts were there, set up all my carts, make sure I have all my little doohickeys that I need, and put an unfamiliar dolly through it's paces. My B Camera Dolly Grip came in on his day off just to help check in the PeeWee and that helped. But after he left, it was just me. Thankfully, he had already gone through all the lumber and track earlier, so that part was done, but by the time I left Chapman and got back to the stage, there was scant time left to go through it all, prep sliders, change out wheels, and all the other little things that make Day One go so much smoother. On top of this was one really big poke in the eye- I didn't like my dolly. And it was the only one in the shop. There were over 70 something other Hustlers already rented out and I had the last one. The problem-by now a familiar one to my readers- no feather in time on the "up." The amount I had to crack the arm before it was already moving too fast was way too small and unless I cracked it painnnfullly slowly- it just started with a tiny hard start. So, the tech (who's always gone above and beyond for me) tore it down and tried to tweak it and succeeded in getting it much closer to acceptable, but I was still doubtful. The fact is, they just didn't have anything left, and my order was called in later than anyone else's. Now let me say first of all, that Chapman has ALWAYS done whatever it takes to make me happy. They've flown techs in to backwoods Mississippi in the middle of the night and torn a dolly apart on the tailgate at lunch to make the arm right. I think this was a case of not enough prep, and a last minute approval.
I then stood around the shop while waiting on approval to add on a 3' camera offset....for two hours. So, once that was done, I left and went to the stage to try and get done what I could.
Once the shooting started, I realized the arm wasn't going to cut it. I had to think about every boom up I did and conciously micro manage the start to keep it from jumping- a killer on the timing. After a quick phone call, a new valve was brought in and installed and now the arm is sweeet. Anyway, this all got me thinking of the importance of prep days and what problems can arise from not having enough time just to make everything right. Features are usually no problem. They generally give at least two days and I've had as much as a week before. But a crappy half day after standing around at the shop all morning just left me in a really pissy mood all week as I tried to remember where things were and trade out things I didn't need while trying to get an uncooperative arm to work right.
I know, I should be thankful I'm working, and I am. I just don't like being shortchanged and disorganized the first day.
A year or so ago, I posted a list of things to look out for when checking out a dolly. I would like to hear some of the things you all look for on prep days.