Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Moment From The Set...

DP: "You're starting too late."

Operator: "We started when he entered frame. You want to be moving already?"

DP: "Yeah, you should be moving before he comes in."

Me:  "You want to text that to me next time?"

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Thing (2011)

  Or as they should have called it, Shit (2011), is a simply horrible movie. Every lazy filmmaking mistake you can make was made in this piece of crap. Sigourney Weaver lookalike? Lazy filmmaking. CGI creatures that were done BETTER thirty years earlier by Rob Botin with stop motion animation? Lazy filmmaking. Bland Swedish (Nordic? Norwegian?) character development ? Lazy filmmaking.The last twenty minutes when the characters are suddenly on the planet from Aliens? Lazy filmmaking. American hero (?) with a raspy voice? Lazy filmmaking. As a huge fan of John Carpenter's The Thing, I really was looking for something special out of this movie. What I got was bad CGI, worse acting, and even worse filmmaking. Blah blah blah and I'm done with it. So if you have nothing to live for or have absolutely no taste in movies, rent Shit (2011), or as it is marketed, The Thing (2011). 
  The Captain has spoken.

Better Early Than Late

  We are doing a lot of blind* Technocrane moves on this show with a very exacting director (and DP). As a result, I've recently become reacquainted with one of my old rules that I had almost forgotten: generally, it's better to be a little early, and fudge it in the feather-down, than late, because you can never catch up. This is a principle that usually comes in handy when you are trying to match to a certain passage of dialogue or land on a specific word in a piece of dialogue. As long as you don't get too far ahead, you can always stretch out the move in the feather to make it almost unnoticeable. If you're behind, there is almost no way to catch up and you end up just stopping short when the dialogue ends, running the risk of ending on too loose a frame. Usually, this is a function of actors getting faster in their dialogue as they get more comfortable with a piece of dialogue. Especially off camera dialogue. This happened earlier this week when the writer/producer (whom I've known for years)was reading off camera to an actor supposedly watching him on an iPad. Another actor was cued to walk in on a specific word in the off-camera dialogue and I had to be in a certain spot to see him walk in in the background. He read faster and faster until the camera was flying around to reach the specific point in the dialogue. At this point, the only way to not be late was to get there early, and slow it down into a creep to the number two spot before wrapping around the actor who walked in. It worked (although we still took around ten takes to get it right. So remember this: better to be ahead and slow down, trhan behind and rush to catch up.

* A blind move is one in which you can't see all the actors or set pieces because of your position on the bucket. Also called "flying blind." It often involves a little on the fly calculating combined with desperation and luck.

Thursday, May 09, 2013


  Let's talk about Technocranes for a moment. I generally love them. As long as you have the right size (not too large, not too small), they make life a lot easier. You can hit multiple points in any shot without laying floor or track, and the shots generally become more creative just because you have the ability to go any direction in space (assuming you have the room). On exteriors, usually the bigger the arm, the better. It gets a little trickier on interiors. I have found that often you have more arm than you need. By which I mean you sometimes end up trying to thread a fifty footer around in a space where a thirty, or even a twenty would work much better. Here's the crux of the problem though: too much arm, and you are forever fighting the bucket end hitting walls, etc, and too little, you end up laying track for an extendable crane. Today, we had both situations. A large space to swing a fifty around in, but it wasn't quite enough to get us the reach we needed. So we ended up laying forty feet of track to do an extremely technical series of moves in a space where a thirty footer would have made life easier (because of the shorter bucket end swinging through doors etc.) By the end of the day I was exhausted. No, utterly exhausted. We swooped and circled, and dove in and quite literally missed the walls on the bucket end by sometime a half an inch. With a Technocrane, it's always a game of variables. On a normal dolly shot, you have a Dolly Grip, an operator, actors and a focus puller. With a Technocrane you add another: the pickle operator. So now you have six variables that all have to work together in a ballet of movement. When you add the extra variable of an interior shot dodging cars, and support beams, and lighting fixtures, it can become a little daunting. The only good thing about an interior Techno shot is the plethora of sightlines. Outside, you generally start high, which gives you nothing but the sky as a sightline. So I'm forever trying to remember that the matte box is straight up from the church steeple, and the sidebar is at hipbone height. I don't use lasers. I've got enough to watch for without trying to calculate if the laser is off the tape mark because the extension is off or I'm too high or low. This reminds me of a story, which I've told here before, of the dayplayer who informed me that I "shouldn't use the sun as a sightline because it will move." And with that, I'm out.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Finally, Something To Do

   I've been a little lax in the posting duties lately. Mostly it's because we have not only gone into straight nights, but also have entered a dialogue phase of shooting where the camera isn't mounted on a car, so I actually get a chance to swing a Technocrane around, or push a dolly. As a result, I'm a lot more tired than I normally would be, so forgive the rarity of posts.
   Don't forget the Fisher Open House on May 18th from 9AM to 4 PM. have a beer tell Frank Kay hi for me.
   Well, it's pissing rain (a continuation of the rain I stood in all night). I've got cheeseburgers from Five Guys, a jug of Captain Morgan, and the beginnings of a six day work week starting at 11AM in the morning. Life is good.