Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Explanation of Terms

  I have been asked by more than one reader who isn't in the industry what certain terms mean. Here is a handy glossary (not in alphabetical order cause I ain't got time for that):


AD- Assistant Director- The director's right hand person. Does the shooting schedule, calls rolling to roll camera, keeps the set moving by dealing with logistics so the director can concentrate on the actual creative process, deals with extras, keeps the set moving.

DP- Director of photography (also cinematographer). Lights the set. Chooses lenses, shooting stops, etc. Basically responsible for the look of the movie. Head of the camera department, grip, and electric departments.

Dance Floor- A surface laid over an existing floor by the dolly grip when the floor is not smooth enough and the camera moves are not linear in which case track could be used. Usually consists of 3/4" birch or oak plywood covered with a 1/" top of plastic sheets called ABS or Sintra.

PA- Production assistant. Often an entry level job under the AD. "Locks up" roads, streets buildings, etc to keep crew members and non crew members from walking into the shot. Has many other responsibilities such as wrangling extras etc.

Technocrane- A camera crane with an extendable arm. Commonly used lengths are 30 and 50 footers although there are max lengths anywhere from 10' to 100'. Camera is operated remotely by the camera operator. The arm is extended by use of a control commonly referred to as a "pickle." Often the pickle is operated by one person while the arm is swung around by the dolly grip. While Technocranes used to be a specialty item only brought in for particular shots, now they are common and a show will often "carry" one for the run of shooting. Has made use of fixed length cranes very uncommon (anyone want to buy a Giraffe Crane?).

Electrician- In the movie world, electrician refers to Lamp Operator, not a household electrician like you may think. Electricians in movie world are also called sparks, or  juicers. They power the set and set up and operate the lighting instruments under the direction of the Gaffer. 

These are common terms I may use from time to time. If there are any more terms you would like defined please shoot me an email.

D


Monday, October 07, 2019

Actor Safety

  I look at part of my job as keeping the stars of our shots safe from whatever it is I'm doing to achieve them. We use a lot of heavy stuff with sharp corners and also create a lot of trip hazards. I once worked with a DP who refused to allow me to ever lay a dance floor in such a way that an actor could step on or walk on it. This included just laying the room so that they were always on it. I had to make strange cuts and customize each floor which took forever when I could have just laid a pad and kept them on it the whole time.While this is a little extreme, I do try to minimize anything that may possibly break their concentration or cause a hazard while they are trying to do their thing. I'm always looking for anything that I may have done that might injure them. I'll put a tapeball or a duventine pad on sharp dance floor corners or, if they must somehow cross a piece of floor and aren't wearing shoes, I'll make a pad of duventine across the edge so if they do catch it, they won't stub their toe. I always, if there is an opportunity, point out any trip hazards to them.  If possible use floor, planks or an offset so they don't have to cross track.
  My least favorite shot to do is a camera looking straight down on an actor. This one always gives me the willies and I'm always relieved when we get it and move on. You should never have a camera over anyone without a safety. I usually screw a bolt into the plate to stop any danger of the camera sliding off and will attach a daisy chain safety from the camera to the dolly, or run a line to the grid overhead, or even build a goalpost with speedrail over the camera and run a line to that. In addition, if it's a static shot, I'll take out the boom control handle and build up under the arm with apple boxes or a small combo stand. Leave nothing to chance. I've even had actors ask me if the camera is safe and I'll take them through all the precautions we've taken. Incidentally, all this should be done with the stand-ins also. Don't let yourself get bullied into shortcuts by a DP in a hurry or an AD who's trying to stay on schedule. Usually you'll see this shot coming and will be able to have the stuff waiting in the wings to be used. Always be looking for what could go wrong because if it can, it will and your career and more importantly, someone's safety and even life is on the line. If that little voice is speaking to you from the back of your head listen to it.
  Anyway, just a couple of things to keep in mind.
Stay safe,
D