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#1 Lukas Franz

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Posted 10 November 2009 - 12:21 PM

Dear operators and avid handsfree pilots,

it happened yesterday evening live on German television. The big show about the "Fall of the Wall" - 20 years later in Berlin.
They wanted to let small pieces of styrofoam wall fall like domino. The scene was prepared to let a steadicam operator on a handsfree transporter pass parallel to the falling dominos. Immediately after the start of the domino procedere the operators falls... terrible!

I don't know who the operator was. I hope he's fine and he's covered by insurance. Now that is what can happen. Of course anything like that happens ironically on a show where dominos are falling. What a terrible event for a steadicam operator...

The story with picture: http://www.tagesanze.../story/17688885

Peace.
Lukas
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#2 Erik Brul

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Posted 10 November 2009 - 01:08 PM

Dear operators and avid handsfree pilots,

it happened yesterday evening live on German television. The big show about the "Fall of the Wall" - 20 years later in Berlin.
They wanted to let small pieces of styrofoam wall fall like domino. The scene was prepared to let a steadicam operator on a handsfree transporter pass parallel to the falling dominos. Immediately after the start of the domino procedere the operators falls... terrible!

I don't know who the operator was. I hope he's fine and he's covered by insurance. Now that is what can happen. Of course anything like that happens ironically on a show where dominos are falling. What a terrible event for a steadicam operator...

The story with picture: http://www.tagesanze.../story/17688885

Peace.
Lukas


Hey Lukas,

Videoclip, shot behind the op.. you see him falling..


And the coverage and cut away:


There were at least 2 ops with segway.. donĀ“t know if the other one took over in the video at the left side or this is the operator in case..

Indeed, terrible !!! :o
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#3 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 10 November 2009 - 02:08 PM

Looks like the guy bumping in to it caused the segway to overreact and do a faceplant. I posted some youtube videos before demonstrating its tendency to do this in certain situations (pull back hard on the controls of the regular one and it will most likely end in a face plant). Seems like it might be possible for Segway to do something about this in the firmware although it might require faster reaction times than it is capable of.

~Jess
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#4 Mike Germond SOC

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Posted 10 November 2009 - 02:09 PM

I think that first video clip Erik posted proves who is at fault for that one! I'd be livid!
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#5 Sydney Seeber

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Posted 10 November 2009 - 02:26 PM

I think that first video clip Erik posted proves who is at fault for that one! I'd be livid!

I don't think there's much you can do when it's the former President of Poland and Nobel Peace Prize winner... I'm thinking a nice insurance payoff is about all he's gonna get. It's kinda odd that a couple of the news agencies blamed it on the camera man, rather than the video clearly showing Walesa backing into him... I think it does expose a problem though
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#6 Ken Nguyen

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Posted 10 November 2009 - 04:51 PM

I think that first video clip Erik posted proves who is at fault for that one! I'd be livid!

I don't think there's much you can do when it's the former President of Poland and Nobel Peace Prize winner... I'm thinking a nice insurance payoff is about all he's gonna get. It's kinda odd that a couple of the news agencies blamed it on the camera man, rather than the video clearly showing Walesa backing into him... I think it does expose a problem though


Hi all,
I wish he's well.
I also hope he has insurance to cover his medical expense, the damage of his system, and the (big) medical bill for Mr. Walesa (if being sued).
Clearly, it's the operator false.
Working in public environment likes this, safety for the surrounding people is your first responsibility.
And, sorry, no argument!
He fail to set a safety clearance between him and Mr. Walesa.
Look at the video again, the operator was too close to Mr. Walesa. If the arm of the Segway missed him, the left wheel would crush his foot.
The operator should start his position more from the right (there's room for this).
Instead of running from the back try to race with the Segway, the assistant should be on the left side to stop Mr. Walesa from bumping into the operator, also would have a chance to spot the fall.

I posted this up as a case-study for all of us only.
I have no intention to hurt the injured steadicam operator.
Fly safe,
Ken.
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#7 Charles Papert

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Posted 10 November 2009 - 05:42 PM

My biggest concern about Steadicams on Segways has always been that the operator is focusing on his monitor and may not be able to react to a navigation related issue. On foot, one has the advantage of instant reflexes to avoid a crash like this; when on a vehicle that is being piloted by another (golf cart etc), the driver is solely responsible for navigation and thus may be able to see something coming and avoid it earlier. I know that many are enthralled by the hands-free Segway and I'm not denying that they have their place, but in an uncontrolled live situation like this, there's obviously risks involved. I'm sure this won't be the last accident we see of this type. Obviously one can have crashes on any vehicle or even on foot, but this does represent an entirely different situation that is still relatively new.
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#8 Rogerhaugen

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Posted 10 November 2009 - 05:45 PM

Well this is not USA so I doubt he get sued.
But its not every day you crash into Lech Walesa. Something he will remember for a while....
Hope he recovers well!
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#9 Sydney Seeber

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Posted 10 November 2009 - 06:52 PM

He fail to set a safety clearance between him and Mr. Walesa.

Ken.

I disagree that it was the operator's fault... Clearly the former president would have taken several steps backward had he not run into the camera, i don't think it would have mattered where the guy was, given the narrow space he was in, and if he were much farther right, his fall would've been softened by a flimsy fence and some really cushiony bystanders. Someone should've made him aware of his surroundings, there's no question about that, maybe something along the lines of "Mr. President, there's a huge f-ing camera behind you", and yeah, I suppose the AC could've done so...
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#10 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 10 November 2009 - 07:29 PM

And of course we have no clue what planning did or didn't happen for this shot. He could have been told not to step back and did or something else entirely could have not gone as planned.

~Jess
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#11 Mike McGowan SOC

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Posted 10 November 2009 - 09:51 PM

I find it to be quite interesting that the AC is even part of the conversation... The AC's I work with would feel about as responsible for that accident as they would for global warming or my wife's hair cut. They would say something like, "I pull focus and make the camera work, keeping the operator and the talent from crashing is the grip's job".

And I tend to agree. Many of you were at one point assistants. Those of you who assisted at a high level know the kind of intense focus and consentration involved in doing that job (one of the hardest in the business). I've done shots (as have many of you) that were so increadibly difficult for the AC that it was almost a miracle that they pulled it off. To suggest that they should 'helpe' me with something at the same time would be insane.

Grips are on sets for a reason and it's not just to set flags and carry sand bags. Whenever I do something that pushes the edge of safety, I make sure that I have the proper crew doing their job.

As far as who's fault it is, the buck stops with the operator. He assumes responsibility when he put on the rig (and more so when he stepped on the handsfree). More over, if I were his insurance company (unless that specific type of work was in the policy), I'd refuse to pay. If a base jumper dies should his family be able to sue the owner of the bridge he jumped off? You are riding a motorized 2 wheel vehicle in a crowd at high speeds with a top heavy 200+ pound operator and camera, the risk happens when you agree to do the job.

For reference, I rollerblade backward very quickly with my rig. I make every effort to do it safely and I have still crashed a few times. I always have a grip (usually 2) running with me to spot me but even if the grip is the one that trips me and takes me down (which has happned before), I dont blame him, I'm doing something inheintly dangerous and I assume responsibility for my actions. I resent the 'sue your problems away' attitude, it's part of whats wrong with the world.

We also as operators (in addition to taking responsibility for our own actions) have to have enough balls to say 'no' when something is not safe. Nine times out of ten, production will very quickly do what needs to be done to make it safe.

My 2 cent rant.... :P
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#12 William Demeritt

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Posted 10 November 2009 - 11:14 PM

In the words of my father: "Nobody intends for it to happen, that's why it's called an accident."

We can Monday Morning Quarterback this thing ad nauseam, but unless we were a part of the equation, it's all conjecture. Someone could watch that video and blame the operator for not telling everyone to be ultra aware of him and not block his path. They could blame Mr. Walesa, saying he didn't properly maintain clearance.

Personally, I'll save this video as a reminder of the precautions I need to take as an operator to ensure the utmost safety of those I work with. Looks like a great learning experience and reminder to protect ourselves and protect our subjects. In the end, accidents happen, and we should make every effort to diminish their likelihood.
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#13 Sanjay Sami

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Posted 11 November 2009 - 03:24 AM

As far as who's fault it is, the buck stops with the operator. He assumes responsibility when he put on the rig (and more so when he stepped on the handsfree).


I completely agree with mike. I don't think its anyones fault really. You can hardly expect Mr. Walesa to be thinking about whether or not he has left enough clearance for a camera operator while he is flagging off the dominoes signifying the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the oppressive communist regime, something he will have huge feelings for.
At the same time you have to feel for the operator. Its a huge occasion, and no doubt he didn't want the dominoes to get too far ahead of him.
It does remind us of the risks involved in using the hands free on occasions such as this.

Sanjay Sami
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#14 chris fawcett

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Posted 11 November 2009 - 03:53 AM

Ouch,

I hope the operator is unhurt.

The second time I was on a Handsfree Segway, I ran the wheel up against an obstacle and something like this happened. Subsequently, I practiced banging against things until I understood how the Segway responds to this. Since then, I have run up against obstacles while shooting, including climbing halfway up Jon Beattie's calf at top speed when we were horsing around at yellow Springs, and have fortunately had no spills yet.

There is no doubt that you have to exercise caution while operating on a Handsfree, and passing someone whose back is turned to me (and might not know, or have forgotten, I am there) is a definite no no in my opinion. I can understand the operator's decision to try to creep past so as to get the shot, but it is a decision I hope I would not have made in the circumstances.

Chris
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#15 Jason Torbitt

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Posted 11 November 2009 - 06:58 AM

It's a horrible looking incident. He goes down very quickly with a horrible twitch from the Handsfree. If you look carefully on the wide shot, you can see that Mr. Walesa actually bumped into the Klassen hardmount just after hittng the Operator himself, which is what knocked the Operator off-balance.

What it is also easy to forget is that the Operator will have also had a director in his ear. It is also obvious, as he is soft mounted, that he will have been operating somewhere else in the arena before making his way over and mounting the Handsfree. Possibly with little time. I'm sure that they will have blocked the movement through, but obviously nobody had briefed Mr. Walesa on the situation - or he forgot.

Either way it's a horrible accident and looks to be a messy scenario for Operator, his gear and the RF camera.

Horrible - hope he is OK.
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