Friday, April 25, 2014


  It's been a while, guys. I'm sorry. I've just had so much going on and to be quite honest, the whole Sarah Jones situation just kind of took the interest out of it for me. But, I'm here now and a post was suggested to me by my Best Boy the other day that got me thinking. I was slated to start a movie a while back. It was a huge (I mean really big) studio movie and the DP had some reservations, having not worked with me before. I got a call from the operator who said that they had not been particularly pleased with their last two dolly grips and he asked if I could possibly use a laser on crane shots. I'm a strict sightline guy. I have no time for looking down at laser marks when I'm swinging a crane arm (especially a Technocrane) around. I've done it the same way for over twenty years and I've done fine. Being the upstanding, set-in-my-ways dolly grip that I am, I said "absolutely," (Hey, I've got a daughter starting at Florida State). I tried it for about three days and then abandoned it and you know what? The DP didn't notice. Guys, sightlines work. You can't watch actors and camera while you are swooping around and also glance down at a laser mark on the ground. Trust yourself. Use the Force. If you have any sense at all of where the camera should be, you don't need them, If you don't have a sense of where the camera should be then it's time to develop it. Lasers, while they have their place and are a tool in your toolkit, can become a crutch. Let them go. Plus, they just show everyone how far off the mark you are. The Captain has spoken.


Anonymous said...

Gripping is a feeling.

Yep, that feels right... we're good.

Anonymous said...

Also here in the grip department, we aim for pretty.

Wick said...

"How can you think and hit at the same time?" - Yogi Berra. Plus a) how do you mark a point in 3 dimensions with one laser? and b) are the actors using lasers nowadays?

D, thanks for sticking to your principles,


DW said...

Totally agree... I never liked the laser on the short end of a crane. I've had them mounted before, and they always end up screwing me up more than helping. I've never had anyone ask or "demand" me using one, and yes, I can make it work if necessary, but generally, I find a laser more distracting than aanything.


Anonymous said...

I use a laser some of the time. At the very least it gives me a 100% accurate start frame. And yes- I 'feel' it and use sightlines. If I'm as good as I expect myself to be then my laser ends up on the mark anyway. It's just another tool. Nothing to be scared of.
Also, to mark a point in 3 dimensions using a laser (for fixed boom cranes with a static base), one only need affix it to the arm (before the turning point obviously) ensuring the beam is true vertical, and bingo, 3 axis laser guided accuracy. For cranes mounted on track or telescopic buggers, you need another marking system for that variable.
On a side note, on my first feature film as a dolly grip (after a couple already being given the boot from the show), was a baptism of fire. First shot I was involved in was a very fast track in/ boom up into Christopher Lees face. I wasn't a vastly experienced dolly grip, but knew enough to give it a good bash. But that wasn't good enough for the (insert big name) DoP, who proceeded to clamp a laser on the Fisher chassis (which was fine by me), and then slapped one on the nose of the arm, at an angle, which of course let everybody on the set know how exact or inexact my move was. I hated it. But I came away from that movie a much better dolly grip.

G Boehling, NY, Local 52 said...

I couldn't agree more. Lasers do more harm than good. Thanks for your excellent page.

Azurgrip said...

I'll weigh in here. I do use lasers. One, properly placed, can do a world of good. On Pacific Rim I was having to swing a Scorpio - now these weren't crazy 12 mark moves, but I had to avoid the other Scorpio and the set was moving. I could find my spots, run a tape between points and would be able to follow with incredible precision. Del Toro demands that kind of precision.

Now, if I'm outside on a sunny day and all the shot calls for is a boom down - ferggit aboutit.

I got used to lasers when they first came out and all the focus pullers felt they had to use them to mark walk and talk distances.

Just another tool, like monitors.

TAPA said...

For those of us who don't know anything about gripping and cranes, what do you use the laser for? I've mostly worked in TV, and have never seen a laser on a crane. (Of course, I've never looked for a laser, either.)