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Muscle Fatigue


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#1 Aaron King

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 08:23 AM

On a job I did recently I found myself in a very bad spot as my muscles literally began to give out during a shot. It was a lengthy walk & talk with me back peddling slowly with the actors with a long lock-off where they continue their dialogue, and then begin to move again. We did this move three times and near the end of the second run I could feel the fatigue kicking in so I was able to have a grip on stand by for the third run at the lock-off point to give me support if my muscles started to give out, which they did.

During the walking portion of the third take I was doing okay, but once we got to the lock-off my body just slowly began to give out. I was able to hold my shot, but my body was not happy. Once we began to move again after their dialogue is when my muscles just said enough. My operating began to suffer as I tried to regain my posture. Luckily they called cut at that point, but I was about ready to drop. It wasn't that I was exhausted with breathing or heart rate, just my muscles fatigued in a very bad way.

My question is, what have any of you experienced in this and how do you handle it when you still have a shot to complete? They said not to worry, that they had the shot and were still going to get some coverage, but it was embarrassing for me as everyone could see me struggling their at the end.
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#2 Janice Arthur

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 09:51 AM

Aaron;

Not sure what others will say but I'd, just to be on the safe side, see your doctor.

Maybe you're talking about normal back fatigue but doesn't sound like it to me or to you or you wouldn't have posted.

(Your wife would say the same thing right?)

good luck and let us know what you find out.

Maybe a bad vest fit that day? or getting over a virus? or just a long shot when you were really already tired?

Janice
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#3 Sanjay Sami

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 10:06 AM

On a job I did recently I found myself in a very bad spot as my muscles literally began to give out during a shot. It was a lengthy walk & talk with me back peddling slowly with the actors with a long lock-off where they continue their dialogue, and then begin to move again. We did this move three times and near the end of the second run I could feel the fatigue kicking in so I was able to have a grip on stand by for the third run at the lock-off point to give me support if my muscles started to give out, which they did.

During the walking portion of the third take I was doing okay, but once we got to the lock-off my body just slowly began to give out. I was able to hold my shot, but my body was not happy. Once we began to move again after their dialogue is when my muscles just said enough. My operating began to suffer as I tried to regain my posture. Luckily they called cut at that point, but I was about ready to drop. It wasn't that I was exhausted with breathing or heart rate, just my muscles fatigued in a very bad way.

My question is, what have any of you experienced in this and how do you handle it when you still have a shot to complete? They said not to worry, that they had the shot and were still going to get some coverage, but it was embarrassing for me as everyone could see me struggling their at the end.


Some days are just like that. On a movie sometimes there is cumulative exhaustion, and it just catches you one day. Other days you feel like superman and could go on forever. We are not machines. There is a limit to what anyone can do, and each person has a different threshold on different days.
If you are tired, its better to ask for a break. If you feel embarrassed to ask for one, disguise it by taking the grip for a walk to show him some "area of concern" or ask the DP some irrelevant question.
Stall till you recover. Better than collapsing in a heap.
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#4 Rick Drapkin

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 12:35 PM

On a job I did recently I found myself in a very bad spot as my muscles literally began to give out during a shot. It was a lengthy walk & talk with me back peddling slowly with the actors with a long lock-off where they continue their dialogue, and then begin to move again. We did this move three times and near the end of the second run I could feel the fatigue kicking in so I was able to have a grip on stand by for the third run at the lock-off point to give me support if my muscles started to give out, which they did.

During the walking portion of the third take I was doing okay, but once we got to the lock-off my body just slowly began to give out. I was able to hold my shot, but my body was not happy. Once we began to move again after their dialogue is when my muscles just said enough. My operating began to suffer as I tried to regain my posture. Luckily they called cut at that point, but I was about ready to drop. It wasn't that I was exhausted with breathing or heart rate, just my muscles fatigued in a very bad way.

My question is, what have any of you experienced in this and how do you handle it when you still have a shot to complete? They said not to worry, that they had the shot and were still going to get some coverage, but it was embarrassing for me as everyone could see me struggling their at the end.


Some days are just like that. On a movie sometimes there is cumulative exhaustion, and it just catches you one day. Other days you feel like superman and could go on forever. We are not machines. There is a limit to what anyone can do, and each person has a different threshold on different days.
If you are tired, its better to ask for a break. If you feel embarrassed to ask for one, disguise it by taking the grip for a walk to show him some "area of concern" or ask the DP some irrelevant question.
Stall till you recover. Better than collapsing in a heap.

As a steadicam operator, in some instances, you're treated like a donkey. You are expected to go take after take without putting the rig down. Because of this , I train pretty hard. I go on my treadmill with a 40 lb. backpack and 20 lb. dumbbells in each hand doing bicep curls and then just holding the weight for 45 minutes. Steadicam is a pretty physically demanding tool. I hope you have some kind of workout routine that you do. Stretching and yoga will help your back and working on your core will help with stamina.
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#5 joe mcnally

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 03:25 PM

Hey Aaron
wow, feel for you and hard to know without being there.
My thoughts
I think you always need to offer a solution if you cannot achieve a shot, goes for everything not just steadicam.
So maybe a suggestion to the split the shot up a little ?
Had you been eating well before working ?
A good nutrition drink might of helped.
Any possibility you could have walked forward ? I find walking back best for framing but occassionly you have to let it go a little.
Could you have reduced the load a little ? What camera package was it ?
I personally dont think any ammount of extreme training should be necessary for working, good to be fit of course, but its not an Olympic event its just a days work remember.
Hope thats of some help or opens up possiblities
All best
Joe
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#6 David M. Aronson

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 08:46 PM

I've been in that same situation a number of times. If it's a really long shot, I talk to the director beforehand about having a docking stand nearby and taking a five to ten minute break between takes. They usually use the breaks to talk to the actors about delivery and other directory stuff. If they don't want to take the breaks, I causally remind them that I'm strapping 70+ Lbs of stuff to myself and them doing something that requires the accuracy of calligraphy. Sometimes it cant be avoided though. I was filming a high school basketball game and one of the players was going to score his 1000th career point. My director kept telling me that it will be any second. Long story short, I was locked off on one end of the court for 8 minutes, the players got a buzzer beater and I had to run across the court to get a shot of him and the fans. It almost killed my cable wrangler. I should have told him to give me some more slack...
Anyway, don't let them bully you around, but be a nice guy about it.
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#7 Aaron King

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 09:44 PM

Thanks for the responses. I make my way to the gym several times a week, and do as much practicing as I have time for, so I like to think that I am in decent shape. This was the first time I had ever experienced this kind of thing. The camera is a fully built ARRI Alexa with Preston, 2 motors, cine tape, zoom lens and Boxx transmitter... so a decent load.

As far as being under the weather as Janice mentioned, beyond seasonal allergies I had not been sick, and we had just had lunch an hour before so hunger wasn't an issue. The scene we were doing was a downhill battle against daylight, so it was a constant "let's reset and go again quickly" before there is no light to shoot with. Having a fair breather in between takes is crucial. We all learn from these moments and move forward.
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#8 RonBaldwin

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 10:15 PM

long fast back-peddaling is really tough, up hill can be a killer! Spend time on an eliptical going backwards...just thinking about it gives me the peach-pit quiver!
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#9 Osvaldo Silvera SOC

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 10:30 PM

Aaron,
Did you feel you were sweating more than normal? Eat differently the last few days? Dehydrated? I read you mentioned you had eaten lunch an hour before, maybe something was happening in your muscle tissue. If you were back tracking, maybe don juan would have been better. Maybe you weren't used to that much weight at that moment.
I do alot of Live work and when I'm on a fiber connected camera, it's super light!( 3A arm almost all the way loose), then I'll work a live show with a Link wireless and Return receiver and it will take a few hours to get used to the weight, and after a few days, it's not bad to have it off the stand for an hour at a time. Takes some getting used to.

Yoga is an excellent way to keep things flowing and build core.
I always stretch before and during any job, and remember, don't stretch cold, warm up first. cold muscles can rip!
Hope everything turns out good!
Ozzie
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#10 Aaron King

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 08:20 AM

In hindsight, I have thought that don juan would have probably been a better choice but my framing usually isn't is sharp in that position. I guess its the trade off when you need to go for a while.

The job I had done for the previous two days before this were in fact with a much lighter build for a music video, so I was used to being able to go for a long time and keeping the rig on for extended periods. Going back to the heavier build did require me to do a bit more warm up before rehearsing as my body wasn't used to the extra weight like Osvaldo mentioned. As far as being exhausted with heart rate, being out of breath or profuse sweating there wasn't an issue, just muscle fatigue. Due to fighting the setting sun there was just hardly anytime for a proper break between takes. I had time for a quick swig of water and it was time to go.

I always stretch and get my body moving before I go into the rig at the start of the day or before my scene is up, but I guess I could sometimes do more. I have done more time on this show and haven't had issues, just that one particular scene.

I appreciate all the feedback.
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#11 James Davis

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 09:53 AM

Sometimes tightness in the spinal erector muscles can creep up on you over time and make you fatigue a lot faster.
Along with the rest of your body (of course) warm up and stretch your spine properly as regularly as possible to help keep the muscles supple, I like to use a swiss ball at the gym, plus controlled dead hangs are good too.

There are also a few yoga stretches that are great if you are not in the mood for entire yoga routines.

Some people rave about gravity boots also but I have never tried them, yoga is brilliant as it is essentially static holds and deep stretches, so again great for flexibiltiy, don't forget to stretch your abs too, excessive tension in the opposing muscle groups can also bring about muscle fatigue prematurely.

My two pence.
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