Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Coming up for air


Just a quick intermission between shows, barely enough time to catch my breath nor catch up on sleep. It’s crazy stupid work wise here!

Next show, the operator has requested Fisher dollies for us to use. I’ll be the first to say “I’m a Chapman guy”, but I’ll also try anything -  once… I’ve done shows with Fishers which have been both good experiences and bad experiences.

The most recent Fisher experience was bad. Once again, the DP had suggested the use of a Fisher Ten. I had squeaky track wheels that I could not fix - Zep, Pledge, water, baby powder, locked wheels, unlocked wheels (not all at once) - nothing worked. I tried for as long as I could then finally the Key Grip stepped in and gently suggested a change.

I’m perplexed as to why I wouldn’t be asked what I feel comfortable using. Budgets aside, would production force one lens manufacture over another on a Director of Photography? Doesn’t a Gaffer have a preference of the manufacture of lighting fixtures? An operator be forced to use one fluid head over another? So why can’t I pick the dollies? (wow - doesn’t that sound like a six year girl whine!).

Thankfully I work in a market where there are choices, but in this case the choices are being made for me. What would you do? 
 
Hopefully once the dust has settled and the hangover has cleared, D will be able to deal with his technical challenges and share his most recent adventures!

Friday, January 29, 2016

OK, Here's My Explanation

Computer down. Typing on pad. I'll be checking in soon.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

It's The Easy One's That Get You

  I've said it for years. It's not the five point dance floor moves or the swooping Technocrane moves that are your undoing, it's the seemingly easy moves that get you every time. I think it's because it looks so easy that the Director is thinking, "What's the big deal?" while you try to move with an inexperienced actor, that the really big moves (that you make look easy) get buried. I've talked about this phenomenon with steadicam ops and other dolly grips, and it holds true.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Guest Post


I received an email  recently from some filmmakers asking to do a guest post. I get a few of these every so often and usually discard them. This one, though, interested me. The director had written a short post about the movement in his film and I thought, "Why not?" I haven't seen the film, so I can't speak about it one way or the other, but I did find it interesting. So check it out....

Creating the Cinematic Camera Movement for LA Riots Short, April’s Way

By: Robert Nyerges, Director

Originally, April’s Way, my latest short about a Korean store owner struggling to protect his family and his market during the looting of the 1992 LA race riots, was conceived as one single shot. An evolving narrative, as well as location and budget constraints forced our hand to trim that concept down into a series of long sweeping takes with multiple hand-offs to help accentuate the multicultural collisions that are featured in the story. 

I’ve always been inspired by the Spielberg approach of turning two shots into one. Obviously, he adopted it from the old studio style of shooting movies but I think the impact and practicality still remains. I prefer to shoot my projects dynamically for time and efficiency’s sake. For example, one of the long takes early in April’s Way follows two characters down a grocery store aisle in a medium shot, until the end where they round a corner and dip out of frame. We continue the shot by introducing another character in a wider shot who eventually walks towards the camera to create a close up. End shot. 

Cinematographer, Nicholas Wiesnet, was also on board with this style from the moment I presented the project to him. “We are both very much drawn toward classic movies. We wanted this to feel grounded in reality but we also wanted it to feel cinematic.” Niko said of our similar preference for aesthetic. He even referred to the style that we both wanted to achieve as that of a ‘Movie-movie’. “By movie-movie, I just mean you’re enhancing reality. You’re making reality slightly magical so that it hits certain emotional chords. Whether that means starting on someones back and pushing in really slowly, etc…You’re enhancing the drama and just responding to the script.” 

To accomplish these types of shots, we knew that a Steadicam was the best approach. Our operator, Neal Bryant, was such a champ and definitely the right man for the job. He used the Steadicam M-1 with the Arricam LT, and we also had to cut all of our film down into 400’ rolls to accommodate the size and weight needed to fly the camera on the sled. 

Unfortunately, further location limitations, as well as technical issues with our camera and video gear resulted in an even further reduction of our cherished long sweeping Steadicam shots. Inevitably, only two of the long takes remain in the film and the rest fell into more traditional coverage to facilitate quick turn-arounds. Niko said, “We had limited time and didn’t have much time to improvise. We had to move fast. The fact that Robert storyboarded was really critical to us making our days and getting all the shots that we needed to tell a story.” We remained on the Steadicam for the majority of the shoot for the sake of speed and since our budget didn’t allow us to carry a Chapman in our arsenal. Poor Neal, with all of his talent, ended up feeling like a ‘Human Dolly’.

Overall, I think the style still shines through and we successfully achieved a cinematic look to the film that still feels gritty and down to earth. I’m super happy with the way the film looks and we couldn’t have achieved that authentically if we had shot on digital. 

We are currently in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign to finish the film. Please head to the link to support and share. every little bit counts!

Check it out here: http://kck.st/1MRUKrU

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Little Down Time

  Hi all. I actually have a couple of weeks off before I start the next one. This comes after a marathon of about 22 weeks with only a couple of days off (and sometimes not that) between jobs. Now I sleep until noon when I can and drink long into the night. I say things on Twitter and Facebook under the influence that may go viral at any time and end my career (not really). Anyway I'm still here, just not in the mood. My wife has given me a "honeydo" list of 16 items that I am to complete before I go back "to work." Let me read off a few: New kitchen sink faucet, fix screen door, fix wall under stairs, move the couch, take BBQ to Goodwill, fix hole under fence, help me paint the chair, and these are just a taste. So you all can see what I'm up against. As I'm a notorious cheapass, I recently found myself taking apart the freezer accompanied by a Youtube video on appliance repair. I was, of course, successful but it took four hours. Therefore, my posts have been few and far between as the demands of family (wife) have left me with precious little time for writing about the intricacies of pushing dolly. Please forgive me and don't stop checking in. Also, if your freezer is leaking water onto the floor I can totally fix it.
D