I taught a dolly class for our local last Saturday. We had a great crowd and at least this time they were all grips (the first one I taught consisted of mostly people with little or no set experience and, strangely, a wardrobe lady. I was happy to have all of them I just thought it a little premature to be taking a class on dolly when they hadn't even put in any time as a set grip). I any case, it was a good group and several of them displayed potential. We briefly touched on eyelines for crane marks and it got me thinking that it may be time to revisit this subject. I've been asked several times about lasers on the bucket. Most here know my views on the subject: Bad Idea. When you are swinging around a fifty foot arm, your eyes need to be on that camera, not only to see what the actors are doing, but to keep you from doing embarrassing and potentially dangerous things like decapitating extras or slamming the camera into low hanging obstacles. I don't have a problem with using lasers to get back to number one or make it quicker to get to number two to look at something. But if you develop your eyeline skills, the fact is, you just don't need them. By eyelines, I simply mean finding an easily distinguishable point on the head, or camera and lining it up with both a vertical and horizontal point. For instance, you may find yourself at a number one which is directly up from a light pole, and horizontally lined up with the roof of a nearby building. This gives you your longitude and latitude for quickly finding it again. The only thing is, your eyes have to be in the same spot in relation to the bucket for this to work every time. I always place my head just off the corner of the handrail on a Technocrane. It may take a while to get into this habit, but now I do it without much conscious thought. Going to number two? just head over until the matte box is directly in the lower left hand corner of that window. Eyelines also keep you from constantly erasing and remarking the floor as the shot changes. You just have to develop a memory for relationships with objects to the camera. It takes a while (or it did me) to develop this on a consistant level and be able to quickly spot horizontal and vertical references. But once you do, you will find that setting up shots and changing marks happens a lot quicker and without as much drama. Give it a shot, and turn off the laser.
By the way, I would also like to thank Bill Wynn for stepping in and helping out with the class after I worked all night and was a little bleary.
I'll try not to go so long between posts next time. I'm just a little snowed under with stuff.