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#1 Brent Johnson

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 07:09 PM

How often do you use a grip or assistant to spot you during a shot? For every take? A specific move? Or only when you deem it unsafe?
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#2 Mike McGowan SOC

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 08:00 PM

I like having one around most of the time but only really 'use' them when I'm going backwards.
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#3 Kevin Andrews SOC

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 09:23 PM

Rarely. Unless on a platform or near a drop. But I'm never afraid to ask when needed. Safety first.
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#4 David M. Aronson

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 10:48 PM

Whenever I'm moving backwards, doing a really complicated move, on a platform or some sort of drop, or if it's a live event where I'll be on stage.
I try to get the same person to spot me every time. After a couple shoots, we knew what the other one was thinking.
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#5 Stephen Wymer

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 12:11 AM

I think it's really personal preference. I choose primarily to be without a spotter except in dire circumstances, or whenever I am unable to navigate myself by either tape or using environmental reference or lines in space. Mostly because spotters tend to grab and jerk me unnecesarily even if asked not to, but I think that's due to the level I currently work at. I tend to like spotters that tap me in the direction I need to go.

I've rarely had the same spotter on different shoots. I think walking down stairs backwards is a must, regardless. But that's just my personal opinion.
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#6 Brian Freesh

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 01:18 AM

My very first real gig was a very small shoot, EX3 on my Flyer, small crew. I showed up, set up my rig, then saddled up and walked with the DP to a platform that was 3 steps high. The shot did not require me to use the stairs, but I did need to end on the edge of the platform. I had just gotten on to it when I turned to see how much room I had to the edge, and was pleased to see the Key Grip, whom I'd yet to meet, already standing attentively behind me. Honestly, I might not have even asked for a spotter as the rig was so light and the fall short enough to theoretically catch myself. But the confidence in knowing a trained professional was there was priceless. I never once felt concerned about stepping off that ledge.

Unfortunately, if I have to train my spotters I do not feel any safer with them. If it's a safety issue and a green spotter i just change the shot. However if I just need them to keep me from bumping into things that might affect the shot I run through it once or twice slowly, without the rig if need be, so I can show them how to do it.
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#7 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 04:10 AM

How often do you use a grip or assistant to spot you during a shot? For every take? A specific move? Or only when you deem it unsafe?

Totally depends on the shot, Having said that when I ask for a spotter the guys know that I REALLY need one
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#8 James Davis

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 04:43 AM

Only when I deem it necessary really, so for instance:

If we're shooting quite wide and i'm walking backwards, I find it helpful if I have to land on a very specific object or area with the camera I get the 1st/2nd AC to lay a mark for me, I then explain to whoevers spotting me during the shot that I want a double tap on my vest when I am 10 paces away and a single tap when I am 5 paces.
If there is a good grip involved then I will often put some trust in them to help dictate the pace when approaching the mark.
If it's a second A.C. or junior grip, I just make sure I am really clear about how I want to be spotted, I also make sure they are present to hear and see the blocking for the shot and I also make damn sure that they are kept in the loop about any changes after the rehearsal/in between takes.
Communication is absolutely key.
If we're shooting tighter say on a 50mm upwards, then often there is enough room to lay marks that won't enter the frame so I can better gauge the distance without any assistance.
Although if the terrain is rough and there are obstacles involved that I have to negotiate then I will insist on a spotter if I am moving backwards and don't feel Don Juan is appropriate for the shot.

Stairs, if I am going up the stairs I will have 1-2 people running behind, if I am going down the stairs I will do the same, I never go down stairs backwards though, disaster waiting to happen in my opinion as you are putting yourself in a position where you will be the first thing to hit the ground with no way to break your fall, at least if you are shooting don juan going down a set of stairs in all likelihood the sled/gear will hit first and take some impact and you will have a chance to roll a little bit.

I also always make sure to tell my spotters if I absolutely look like I am going to fall on stairs, always push/pull me into the stairs, better to hit a step or two then to tumble down the whole lot I reckon

Although there was a shot I did recently, a move which ended with a very sudden lock off coming in from a full sprint at the edge of a set of stairs, with shots like that I would definitely not want to be without a spottter, especially considering how fast I was going before I pulled up to a halt.

Lots of variables to consider really, it's kind of like saying how often do you use an 18mm lens to a DP, whenever the shot calls for it and whenever you need it.

Safety first.

Edited by James Davis, 04 May 2012 - 04:45 AM.

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#9 Brent Johnson

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 02:56 PM

Thanks for the awesome tips/stories. It's hard to gauge when your a newbie what's acceptable and whats not when being on set. Do you guys also bring a chair or ask to have something to sit/relax on while not shooting? Between takes or when your not needed instead of standing around all day?
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