Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Feb Freeze '19

Quickie update - went to White’s February Freeze and saw the new Panther S-Type dolly. Sebastian from Camadeus was great on showing the capabilities. Unfortunately I didn't get a full hands on.

And caught up with Jesse and Frank from Chapman.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Wakamole

January seems to be the month of convalescing. Thankfully I get to sit out “Snowmaggedon ’19” on my couch sipping champagne and scarfing down  bon bons….

It’s been a while since I’ve contributed here. I feel awful. For those wondering, I’ve been hiding in space. I’ve just finished on two seasons of television on “Start Trek Discovery”. The NDA I had to sign was large enough to stop cars so I had to be ultra careful about what I said and didn’t say. I found any topics I wanted to discuss was directly tied into the show which made it useless.
One thing that became a thing the second season was the use of the stabilized remote head on the dolly. I was left in the room with actors while the operator, focus puller and everyone else was outside. Made for some lonely times. Or spent talking to “oneself” over the head sets. I am looking forward to a season three….

One thing that came up and bit me was sound. No, the boom guy wasn’t rabid. For some time I fought with the floors - the paints used and materials.  With the use of the stab head they didn’t want to give me the time to lay dance floors. So I was stuck between a rock and a hard place with squeaking tires. Baby powder would dry the tires out and become useless over time. I couldn’t use Zep because of the slick mess it left behind. Got to the point that if I ever got a chance to get on track, they’d be so dry that they’d squeak there too.

For a while I’d stay after wrap and pull all the tires, wash them, then re-Zep them to reimpregnate them overnight and reinstall in the morning. Eventually this became too tiresome so I gave up and just covered the tire with an inch of cloth tape. Worked the best but had to be replaced every week or so (or if I ran through a puddle).

I’m seriously considering switching to Fisher next year to see if their tires fair any better. We did put my Hybrid IV through its paces with all sorts of neat builds. Love the strength of that arm. Now if they could only get me a black one…

Big shout outs to James Parsons - B dolly grip, Francois Daignault - A Camera operator and Andrew Stretch - A Camera Focus puller.

I’m off to the White’s February Freeze to meet up with Chapman folks and maybe see this new Panther dolly.

Friday, February 01, 2019

Requested post: What Do You Use For Dance Floor?

  I put in a call for suggestions for posts on our Facebook page (I just got in from work and am two drinks in and too tired right now to do a whole link thing. Look up dollygrippery on FB) One of the requests was for what materials are used for dance floor by different Dolly Grips. First, I'll go into a little history. When I started, we used birch plywood and luan (yes, luan as a top layer). We would lay it out and screw it to the plywood with one inch screws. As you can imagine, it cracked and popped and didn't work well at all but it was what we had. Later on, someone discovered plastic polymer sheets as a topper over the birch (birch is the ubiquitous plywood used in dance floor. It's all I remember as a young set grip). These sheets were the game changer. They were flexible and quiet, and durable. Now there are two types of plastic toppers used: ABS and Sintra.  We use 1/4". Which one you use is really up to you. I've used both, and really don't see(or care) about the advantages of one over the other. It's a plastic sheet. ABS is more rigid and sometimes has a pebbled surface on one side. Sintra is more flexible which makes it easier to get into small spaces. I tend to use Sintra more mainly because that  is what my best boy orders and I don't really care as long as it's square and the edges are smooth. I tend to not be too picky about which material I use. They both have their strengths.
  The bottom layer is a little trickier. For years, as I mentioned before, birch was the go-to choice for plywood. It's straight and smooth and relatively light. Everyone used it for years. Then it all fell apart (literally) I noticed it around 2006 when I did a movie in New England. After about two weeks, the birch we had started bowing. Then it started falling apart. It was later explained to me that most birch found in the US was low quality Chinese made birch. So we began the search for a better plywood. What we found was Baltic Birch.  Plywood from The Motherland. Heavy as hell but it kept it's shape and worked well. Later on and for the last few years, I've used Red Oak. On the show I'm on now, though, we were assured that the birch was American and not likely to fall apart like my last experience. So far that seems to be the case three weeks in. Anyway, there's my short answer to the question. Thanks for asking!

D

For those of my friends not in the business, a "dance floor" is merely a slang term for a plywood surface laid on an existing floor to give a smooth camera move in more than one direction, unlike track.