Cues are simply the visual or audio signal that kicks off a move or action. A cue may be an actor's first step, a word of dialogue, or a wildly waved arm from a director at the monitor. Important to the process is the cadence. This is simply the AD's call for the shot to begin. It usually goes, "Roll sound, speed, roll camera, speed, action!" Often, when we want the camera to be moving before the action even starts, we'll call for an "And......action," and move on the "and." Sometimes, it'll just be a verbal, "Go!" from the operator or director. I really dislike verbal cues. By the time I get the cue, I'm often already starting out a split second behind. Once you get behind the action on a move, it's difficult to catch up without it looking like you're catching up. There's also a little bit of doubt in every camera operator's head (believe me, I do not blame them for this, I would be the same way) that will make him or her often give you a verbal cue even as you're already starting. Verbal cues are also unreliable. I like to rely on what see. I've had directors and operators simply forget to cue me. I also don't like relying on monitors for visual cues. There's just no substitute for real time visual on an actor for a visual. Most ofthem have a "tell" that will let you know when they are going to walk or sit etc. A turn of the head, a shift of a leg, even a shift of the eye can alert you to a coming move. These things are harder to see, at least for me, in a monitor. Sometimes in situations like a blind corner, or a doorway, you can't see anything and you have to rely on a monitor. Just remember that a monitor is a tool, not the tv screen you filter all your visual info through. On a crane move, if I'm getting a verbal, a countdown (3-2-1-go) or an "And" really helps me get ready. A sudden "Go!" often puts you behind from the start. I can often also tell by the tone of my operator's voice what he's looking for.
I have a couple of other orders of business. Please check out The Black and Blue. It's a great site by a camera assistant who had some nice things to say about dolly grips. Give it a look.
Our good friend Onno will be at Cinegear in his Solid Grip Systems booth. Please stop by and check out his stuff. He's got some great gadgets. He may also need a hand running things since he's alone this year, so please offer a helping hand. I would be there to do it, but I'm out of town this year. Give him a warm welcome.
Happy Memorial Day to all our soldiers and their families, especially those of our fallen warriors. I'm taking a week off to go to Atlanta. Have a great week!