Saturday, May 29, 2010

Moving On?

I've been slogging it out on network TV this year. First a pilot for CW, now on a series for NBC. I've encountered a few things:

The pilot had a big name director / producer. I won't mention names, but let's says he's gotten a bunch of TV shows off the ground (all having three letter titles). I pushed B dolly and had him within three feet of me all at time - screaming all the way, thankfully not at me, but at the rest of the crew (DP included). Seems he doesn't really like the whole "film making process...". Nerve wracking to say the least. Oddly enough, this was the second time I've pushed for B camera. I've always pushed A camera, but acknowledge that B camera is certainly a place to cut your teeth and hone your craft. I tip my hat to anyone who is part of a crew and has stayed pushing B.

On my current job, we've brought in a new guy to the crew to push B. He's a competent guy but also new to concentrating on dolly pushing and to the B spot. We've been able to share experiences and I've been able to pass along tips to help him get through this project - number one - don't be bullied into something you can't pull off. Yes, operator comfort is a priority, but at the same time, you have to be able to physically be able to do your job.

The show we're doing is of a CIA agent - so you've got the offices and enclosed spaces to deal with. I'm a big of NCIS and have more respect for the dolly grips on that show for what they've pulled off episode to episode, season after season. Just the amount of coverage in the bullpen alone is mind boggling. I'm hating our set design so much. Lots of glass and reflections for me and the operator to contend with (my op is pulling his hair out!!) We're in "ninja suits" all the time.

Two mechanical things that have come up in our first four weeks of shooting: We've managed to tear off the front corner seat pocket cap on our Hybrid, not once, but twice. Seems the cap is screwed into only an 1/8th of an inch of metal (first time we shot screws into the ceiling). Yes, we were using an seat extension and no, the operator is not a heavy guy. I'm still working with our rental house on this and have put in an email to Chapman.

The replacement chassis groans more than I do. I dread doing dancefloor moves in our studio, as the floors of the warehouse aren't level and I don't always have all eight wheels on the ground. I thought it may have been a loose leg (once again, the front left), but after tightening it still sounds awful. Even now, if a seat is placed in that pocket, then the pocket creaks like a old wooden sailing boat.

We do alot of handheld work and I finally got around to assembling the Mitchell Tractor seat (only to discover two weeks later that Modern now has one). Its been a life saver and the operator loves it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


You were smelly.
You were filthy.
You cost me a fortune.
Like a lot of Good Dogs, you were an immense pain in the ass.
You loved us every day and we miss you more than we could ever say.
Goodbye Old Man. Safe travels. See you down the road.
I love you.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Moviebird Review and Something Cool

I had been hearing a lot lately about the Moviebird Technocrane and was curious to try it out myself. Last week I got the chance. We used the MB 35/45 over several nights and I must say that it performed admirably. We put it through several paces including a full speed extension matching a running actress and it held up well. We got the crane from Procam Rentals and Tech David Hammer came out with it and was a pleasure to work with. The crane will operate at 35' max, or, with the addition of an extension, at 45' max. Hammer explained that at full 45' extension it does get a little whippy but that this can be alleviated somewhat by dropping it back down to 35'. We used it at full extension and while there was a good bit of whip to it on a fast pan, it was possible to finesse a lot of it out after a couple of runs. I have to say that at the full 45', just shy of what a 50' Supertechno would offer, the arm is extremely responsive and not near as bulky or clunky as a 50' Supertechno. The arm balances extremely well and doesn't require a lot of babysitting. The tilt dampener on it also works well and holds it rock solid. Set up is pretty much just like the normal Technocranes we're all used to. Altogether, I would have to say it's a solid choice and wouldn't hesitate to use it again.
 Moviebird, and Procam also offer lengths of 17',  24' and 30'.
All in all, the only con that I saw at all was the whippiness at full stick at 45', but this is almost balanced out by the easier maneuverability of the arm. Of course you would have to pick a crane based on your particular needs.
I liked it and I especially like the responsiveness of the arm at full stick compared to a 50' Techno.
Pickle wise, it seemed comparable to the Technos we all know and love.

You can reach Procam Rentals at 818-717-0354 and Hammer will give you all the details. Their website is . Tell 'em Dollygrippery sent ya.

Now, for the "something cool."  Those of us who favor the Hustler 4 know what a pain it can be in outdoor rural settings. It's just a little low to the ground and heavy to get over roots and hills etc. While I was away on my movie, the boys on my series came up with a set of big wheels that mount into the sideboard receptacles. They screw in and though they aren't steerable, the Hustler pops up easy enough to allow a lifting bar inserted in the back to pop up the front and turn it. It makes a big difference. Thanks to Chapman for making them up. Here's a pic.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Tomorrow at Fisher...

...I won't be able to make it after all. I have to go do a daddy thing in Atlanta. Please, those of you who can make it, take some pictures and give a report on how it goes.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Show Wrap-up

I'm back and all went well. A lot of free form work on this job and the operator pretty much let me have my head on this one. He would usually say, "Just do what you think is right" and it all worked out. A real pleasurable way to work. I must make mention of the increasing scarcity of decent Birch for plywood. We paid 90.00 a sheet for the best we could find- assured by the lumber company that it was the best available. Within two weeks it was cupping, bowing, chipping and warping. We made it through, but probably couldn't have gotten much more out of it. Someone has to come up with an alternative to Birch. Maybe some kind of fiberglass or plastic 3/4" sheets that interlock to make a decent surface that won't warp. It would be a big initial investment but would last for years and eventually make money in rentals. Let's investigate. Anyway, thanks for staying tuned during my frequent absences. We are planning some cool things in the future when we can get time to make them happen.
  Don't forget the JL Fisher Open House and Barbecue in two weeks, Saturday May 15th at Fisher in Burbank. As it turns out, I probably will make it and hope to give a full report. I'll be wearing the "Dollygrippery" nametag so please say "Hi" if you're a reader. I'll also take any suggestions for future posts or activities. Please visit the Fisher website for directions and info. It's always a great time to meet old friends and learn about what's going on in the Dolly Grip world.

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