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assistant role

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#1 sebastien BARBARA

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 08:33 AM

Hi all !
I would like some advice about the usual behavior of an assistant during a backward walk. I made my first paid work a few day ago. We were two steadicamers preceeding two people during an ITW, short focal, easy... (even if i hadn't install bubble due to last minute exchange of monitor)
The result when I saw it was pretty horrible: headroom, stability, frame, horizon, all was ugly as if I never hold a steadicam before. I'm even more unforgivable than the sled was heavy, with digbeta, another monitor etc.... The feeling when I was alone, reharsing, was very steady yet.
BUT: i worked with my steadicam training companion as the assistant (which he never did before) , and he hold me so firmly (almost want-to-operate-instead-of-me-feeling) than I almost falled back or pushed on him during the real shot. VERY UNCOMFORTABLE FEELING during a one-shot take of a big business Leader.
So, given I never worked with someone holding me before, is it normal to be gripped so firmly than I could'nt move freely when someone is supposed to guide your way back?
When I talked about this to my assistant, he told me he did so to avoid me touching people around (who were numerous, given the space was open to press people).
How do you manage this ? Establish a code like touching the operator the side he must go or so ?
Thank you:)
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#2 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 01:30 PM

I have had a similar experience where my spotter was holding on so tight I couldn't rotate my body the way it needed to go and it ruined the shot. I then instructed him as to how I prefer to be spotted and all was good.

What I have found to work best is to tell the spotter that if they want me to move a certain direction that they should jab me in the side with their fingers. If they grab your vest and try to physically move you no matter how hard they try you will barely notice. A soft jab in the side on the other hand is very noticeable yet doesn't keep you from moving the way that you need to. If the spotter wants to keep a firm grip on your vest because it is a situation where they are afraid that you are going to fall that is perfectly fine as long as they are able to do it without putting any force on it. They can use their other hand to steer you.

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#3 sebastien BARBARA

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 01:56 PM

Thank you very much Jess for the advice. This misadventure is turning in my head since it happened cause it seems me so sad that I trained so evenly for months, worked my physical shape, operated in 3 short movies to prepare the first professional day and produced finaly a so bad plan :) And was puzzIed cause I know I can produce something clean enough when conditions are as simple as they were (which is the reason I wqs not particulary stressed). Excepted I never trained to walk back with my assistant. I will know now what is the next thing to practise:) Just hope next time will be less surprising:)
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#4 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 12:50 PM

Generalizations are difficult but here are a couple, from my somewhat limited experience...

1. A spotter's job is NOT to steer you, except from danger. You can't control the rig when someone is trying to control you. Micro-rehearse with them before the take, go make sure they are not influencing your operating except to keep you from falling. Essentially, you are responsible for knowing where you are going, even going backward.

2. If you're going through a (un-controlled) crowd, I would think the better way would be to assign another assistant to "part the waters". Everyone should know ahead of time where you are going...the talent, you, your spotter, and your crowd control assistant. Don't let the talent think that they can just wander around and you can/will follow them anywhere.

3. I am partial to the "hand-under-the-bottom-of-the-vest" technique, per Peter A. Your assistant puts their fingers inside the bottom of your vest back (palm up). If you are coming close to an obstacle, a sharp upward tug (with steering if needed) alerts me and helps keep me upright. Otherwise, they do a light touch that you can barely feel, and they follow the pace and direction you set.
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#5 sebastien BARBARA

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Posted 08 October 2010 - 08:20 AM

Thank you Mark !
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