Sometimes the decision of which camera platform to use is easy. You're given a situation, you weigh the options and the answer is self explanatory. Sometimes it's made for you. The DP says, "Just throw down a stick of track and do it on the dolly." Sometimes, you have to mentally flip a coin (a weighted coin depending on the conditions) and go for it. You can't spend too much time debating it. My dad, who was a bricklayer in his younger years used to have a saying: "Quit figuring and lay block." This means you can pull your ruler out and calculate everything down to the inch for every scenario or you can give it your best guess based on experience and go to work. Anytime I find myself overthinking a shot I'll whisper to myself, "Quit figuring and lay block." Then I just go to work. And it's never not worked out.
We had a similar situation last week. We had a shot which had several points to hit with about six actors standing on one side of a long table. The DP suggested the Technocrane off the bat. The operator and I both balked at the suggestion because often when you get into more detailed work, a fifty foot camera crane isn't always the best tool to use. We both wanted to put the Oculus on the dolly and go. We debated for a few minutes and mentally flipped a coin. A weighted coin. It was weighted toward the crane because the Oculus needed to be underslung to get out over the table at one point. On the other hand, I knew the way these directors and DP worked, we would end up going somewhere height wise that hadn't been planned on. (Also, we were covered because the crane had been the DP's suggestion). So, we quit figuring and laid block and it worked out to be a great shot.
I hope everyone has had a good, safe week. We had a moment of silence for Sarah that same day. Be safe out there and don't be afraid to say No if something seems off.
Time for a refill.
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