Sunday, January 19, 2020

1917

  I had looked forward to this movie for a while. The first world war is the war that we hear the least about. Even though it was known as the War To End All Wars. Early on, I had heard that it was a "one shot movie" in the style of Rope. This, along with the subject matter, had me intrigued to see how and what they did. I was not disappointed. As an aside, the press keeps mentioning the "one shot" aspect as if it's a gimmick or a fancy Hollywood trick like 3D or Glorious Smell-O-Vision (look it up) meant to put asses in seats. This isn't that. It's really the best way to tell this story. It's immersive and visceral. The camera never leaves the protagonists and you as the viewer are taken along (whether you want to go or not) for the ride. Camera movement almost becomes a character in itself in this picture. In a lot of ways it's like being on the first hill of a rollercoaster. You're slowly clanking and lurching toward the top and you know that a big drop is coming followed by a bumpy ride. Under the sure hand of the legendary Roger Deakins and Key Grip Gary Hymns and his crew, the camera movement is nothing less than spectacular. The only problem I had was that the whole time I was watching it, some part of my mind was constantly shuffling through camera platforms; "OK, that's a Stabileye on speedrail, that's a crane, that's a steadicam." Joe Blow from Minnesota won't have that problem though. Go see it. Whether or not you think the subject matter was treated the way it should have been, it is a technical marvel. If you want to know how it's done, here's your answer.
  8 Am call tomorrow. Blah,
D

Saturday, January 04, 2020

Back to Work

  Well, the vacation is over. Monday morning I, along with many of you, will jump back into the grind and will carry on until around April. The job I'm currently on is a new streaming series. Instead of breaking it up into separate episodes as we're shooting, we treat it much like a six month feature. The director and DP are constant. This adds to a certain cohesion that is often compromised in standard series shooting where the DP alternates and the directors are on a revolving door. We know the drill and the fastest way to get things done.
   One of the systems we are using regularly is the Oculus head on the dolly. This works very well for a lot of things, but isn't a universal tool for everything. Wisely, our DP likes to use an arsenal of tools for many situations. We often go from Technocrane, to dolly, to mini Libra underhung on speedrail and carried. They all work really well in specific situations. I really like the Oculus on the dolly. It gives the operator and I a tremendous amount of freedom to find shots as we often make them up on the fly with little rehearsal. While this works well and the Oculus is an amazing head, don't make the mistake of thinking a stabilized head can fix everything. A wavy floor like a linoleum one will still often show up onscreen, especially on a longer lens on a dolly. It's best for high frequency vibrations like a wood floor. If you use it on a very wavy floor, it's best to leave off the vibration isolator. Pneumatic tires also help a lot,  Anyway, that's my 2 cents worth.
  Good luck in the coming year and stay safe out there. Remember, take nothing for granted and if something can go wrong it will.
D