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A shout out to Andrew Mitchell, the crew of Glee, and shooting on film

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#1 Dave Chameides

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 09:52 AM

I spent yesterday at the Saban theater in Hollywood watching the filming of the GLEE finale in front of about 2000 fans. My wife's god-daughter flew out for it so i was there with her (and of course I think the cast is dreamy too). It was a really interesting experience because I rarely get to watch other ops, especially guys on a large stage where you can see the whole dance play out in front of you. As the guy who's always in the rig and not watching others in it, it reminded me of how truly cool steadicam is and how wild the whole dance between the AC, grips and op are.

Andrew Mitchell is the op on the show and to say that he is doing amazing work is pretty much an understatement. He spent the entire day shooting a 4 minute piece from multiple angles, doing what we all love to do, choreographing relatively on the fly, and doing it flawlessly might I add. I was up in the balcony but had a monitor and it was awesome to watch him work and see what he was framing at the same time. The fact that he wears the rig on the wrong side (goofy foot) is nothing short of amazing to me as I can't fathom how he can control the rig that way (ooh I'm gonna hear it about that). So a huge shout out to Andrew and the rest of the crew and a thanks for making us all look good and elevating the art form even higher.

While it was great to get to see Andrew operate, there was a sad aspect to the day as well. Glee is old school and is shot on 35 mm using a Millenium XL (if I recall correctly). As I was watching Andrew float around the stage, turning and winding through the dancers as he felt the shots should play out, i couldn't help but realize how different this scenario would be if they were shooting video. Either he'd be tethered, which would effect his performance to the point of not being able to execute the shots he was doing as well or at all (think dancers surrounding you at all times), or, if untethered, I don't know that he or any other op would have been able to physically get through a 13 hour day of that kind of physical punishment due to the weight of the cameras we are being forced to fly. Sure there are smaller cameras, but if this show were digital it would likely be Genesis or F35 so it would have been an issue. I guess I'm just old school, but it was sad to recognize that this type of shooting may be becoming a rarity.

Anyhoo, great work Andrew, it was a pleasure to be able to watch you in action.

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#2 Michael Fuchs

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 06:31 PM

what a great post dave--Every time I happen to see that Glee is on, I often stay on it or switch back to it, mainly because the show looks so good and you can tell that it's shot on that format that you call "film." Besides being lit very nicely, it doesn't take long to notice how solid the operating is as well--a dying, visual gem of a show indeed and it's pretty cool how you got to see them action. big sigh, off to my next 5d shoot :(
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#3 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 30 April 2010 - 02:05 AM

I agree Dave.
I think I've watched a total of 10 minutes of Glee, but when I did I thought it looked great.
Then I heard several weeks ago it was shot on film.
God bless them.
I know what you mean about not being able to physically do a show like that on a Genesis or F35.
When I did "The Runaways" I was in the rig all the time, often for nearly every shot of the day, not only for "speed" but for convenience
and the "look" even though a lot of those shots could be on a dolly.
Because it was a period piece (1970's) we shot on Super 16 with the Arri 416.
During the concert footage, I'd run all around the stage, up and down the stairs and around Kristen and Dakota, sometime for 7-8 takes (music video like).
I would keep thinking to myself, if this show was shot on the F35, there is no way in hell I could do 4 minute takes running all over like that, much less be in the rig for 80-90% of some of the days.

I can embrace HD, but I truly hope like they pretty much abandoned the BL4's in the early 2000's for XL's and LT's, the F35 and Genesis get dumped in the next year for newer lighter better HD cameras. I can't wait to try the Alexxa, I hope it's all it's cracked up to be for us.

In the meantime, I'll tune into an episode or so of Glee to check out Andrews great work, and support a show that's shot on film.
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