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#1 benedictspence

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 11:14 AM

Hello everyone!

Thought I'd pick the brains of all you worldly wise operators out there...

I operated on a music vid a few weeks ago on S16 and one of the setups involved a 360 round the artist during a performance. Now we did 3 takes of this 3min song, one wide, one mid one long lens and I've seen the finished result and the whole promo looks great. The shot required me to tread a circle with a diameter of around 6 meters at a good fast pace and constantly change directions; the director was giving me the cue, quite tricky actually.

The director is a good friend of mine and he mentioned that they had to tweek the picture a bit in post because the horizon was a hair out, only once or twice but at key points. I knew this was happening while I was shooting but had great difficulty keeping a level frame; normally I have no problems! While it didn't cause any real issues and the post fix was absolutly fine I don't want to have the same problem again.

So my question is this... what could I have done to make it easier to keep the frame level?

Since I was changing direction at high speed would having a neutrally balanced sled have helped in anyones opinion???

If it helps I was shooting on an Ultra and an SR3...

Cheers dudes!

Ben Spence
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#2 JobScholtze

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 01:04 PM

Hi Ben,
A couple of month ago i did the same thing on a music clip. I found it hard too, but it helped me to balance the tilt as precise as possible for that shot, so i didn't had to make corrections for the headroom, but one step closer and there it goes. But for some reason the director asked for more headroom, so i did.

Here are the results
LINK (14mb)
It was all shot on steadicam in about 6 hours in the vest. :unsure:
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#3 David George Ellis

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 04:10 PM

Hey Ben,

It sounds like to me you did as good of a job as you could, given the circumstances. If you were having horizon issues while operating, it seems like you may have had to make quick starts and stops or panning adjustments while operating. And probably something I haven't thought about as well. I'll use the bosom approach to help figure out the problem you had shooting. How was the rig in juxtapose to you? Were you shooting in a linear track (rig directly in front of your body and lens facing action), or was the rig flying away or crashing into you in Missionary or D.Juan? Did you feel the rig wasn't in static/dynamic balance with what you were planning to shoot? Were you allowed to do rehearsals? And if you were, did you make equipment/operating adjustments to get the shot right? And now, my story.

I had a series of shots similar to what you had described (wide and tight), on an SR3 as well. During the rehearsals I realized it was tough to track around talent clockwise and maintain a distance as they danced in counter-clock circles around each other in a freestyle fashion. Everyone was dizzy by the end.

I took a beating reacting to the "choreographed" spontaneity. Instead of walking my marked lines which talent wasn't forced to abide by, I figured to widen out or tighten in a little and maintain headroom. It was more of an elliptical orbit. That way I wasn't so concerned panning with my operating hand as much and causing a conflict with the sled and it's momentum.

It seems to me the more I diddle the post when moving, the higher the chance I stand of altering the horizon in an unwanted order. But if I alter my body positioning, the less I have to think about making that little pan motion to keep the frame composed. I didn't have to adjust too much, though. Just enough to have them filling the frame to the Director's satisfaction. I won't lie, it wasn't all perfect. The actors fell out of frame a time or two. Either from fatigue or fear of fatigue.

Since the Dir wanted to keep talent justified to one side or another on the tight shots, I told him it was more ORGANIC to have them fall a bit out of frame, but not disappear. Turns out he ended up using those shots. I got lucky I guess.

I'll leave you with this last piece of advice you may have heard before. A well-seasoned veteran once told me right before I bought my PRO the four primary objectives to operating in order of priority:

1: Make sure you get what the Dir wants to see at the beginning of the shot

2: Make sure you get what the Dir wants to see at the end of the shot

3: Make sure you get what the Dir wants to see during the shot

4: Make sure your horizons are on the level

Looking forward to your feedback and I hope some of this helps you self-diagnose. You might wanna try doing that same shot in your spare time with the rig in different balance techniques to find what works best for you. Good luck.

ONE,

David
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#4 benedictspence

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Posted 14 May 2005 - 06:04 AM

Hi David!
Thanks for those tips; reminds me of when I first started as a Lighting Camera Op- I was told by a very experienced camera man that there were 2 golden rules...

1) Get on with people.

2) Don't f*ck up.

Follow those and you'll have all the work you need! Seems to have worked for me so far!

As to how I was operating... The sled was bang on dynamically balanced. I was shooting both clockwise and anti clockwise round a single static performer- framed in the centre. As for the rig position; due to the speed the director wanted the shot I was walking forward with the rig infront of me facing right angle to my left. Then for the change of direction I would very quickly stop myself and the rig; spin round the camera to that it maintained it's position but I was on the other side. IE me facing forward and the rig infront with the camera facing at a right angle to my right. Does this make sense?

Although most of the time these transitions from clockwise to anticlockwise were fine- there were a few where I lost the horison and because there were so many verticals in the shot even a hair off axis and it was quite obvious...

I was thinking- if I had the rig neutrally balanced would this have helped those transisitions?

To be honest the best way of shooting this would to have been a take clockwise then a take anticlockwise- but didn't get a rehersal or a chance to have a think about the shot!

Just re-read your post david; yes it was a linear track! Would have saved myself some time typing there...

And Job; cheers for that- I really like the vid. Did you use the Kino Kamio ringlight?? I owned one of those for a year but it kept blowing tubes left, right and centre. Also I found I couldn't use it on Superwide video lens'.

Apologies if I don't reply anytime soon- I'm away in Lisbon for a couple of days!

Ben
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#5 Andre Trudel

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Posted 15 May 2005 - 12:37 AM

Hi everyone,
I have heard of this post-production aid in the stabilization of the horizon to some major motion picture Steadicam shots. I was wondering what software is most commonly used for this in the industry? In your case Ben, do you know which program your director used?
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#6 David George Ellis

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Posted 15 May 2005 - 12:57 AM

IE me facing forward and the rig infront with the camera facing at a right angle to my right. Does this make sense?

Although most of the time these transitions from clockwise to anticlockwise were fine- there were a few where I lost the horison and because there were so many verticals in the shot even a hair off axis and it was quite obvious...

I was thinking- if I had the rig neutrally balanced would this have helped those transisitions?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Ben,

Totally makes sense...

Hey, shit happens, and...

I have heard of a few operators who shoot this way as thier normal method. I could theoretically see it working, for you don't have to think too much about your pendulum action, but I believe you still would have to work any kinks outs to get that down pat. Then again, it looks like you would have to be feathery on the operating hand so's not to alter your horizon with any minute hand movments, b/c it will want to go where you put it knowingly or otherwise. At least you know you have one axis mostly under control when the rig's bottom-heavy.

When I do a linear track switch like you mentioned from clock to counter-clock, I feather into the switch pan, let go of the post (look ma, no brains!) and sidestep the rig into a linear track the other way, recapturing the post at a lucky moment. But I also have a very forgiving XCS gimbal. I'd say try the neutral balance and see if it caters to your preference. Let us know how it goes. I tried it once and felt more at ease doing it the ole' fashioned way. But it did make my up-tilts feel equal to my down-tilts, though. Maybe with a little more practice it will come in handy. Good luck.

David
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#7 RobinThwaites

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 07:44 AM

Hi Ben


Glad to here the operating is going well, your inclination toward a more neutral balance is good but since you were using an Ultra you can also help yourself by using the stage tilt to keep the post nice and vertical for your chosen (or the directors) headroom.

Robin Thwaites
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#8 joe mcnally

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Posted 17 May 2005 - 03:46 PM

Hi Ben
yes as Robin says Tilt stage helps big time. Also with the Ultra and of course lots of other sleds, extend the post a lot that would give more inertia in the tilt axis keep it fairly neutral. We should all get used to neutral rig with the AR as surely it would need to neutral for whizzing upside down and back again ? How about gyros would they have helped ? Next time maybe get a doorway dolly to ride. Was the shot too fast to walk backward on the reverse ?
Have yo decided on your arm yet ?
Hoe this is a bit of help
Joe
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#9 JobScholtze

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Posted 17 May 2005 - 03:52 PM

And Job; cheers for that- I really like the vid. Did you use the Kino Kamio ringlight??

Yes i did use the Kino, i rented one around here. I use it so much that i am looking for one used.
Thanks for the compliment, i am proud on that clip. Little time and than that result.
Good luck
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#10 benedictspence

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 07:20 AM

Hello All!

Thanks for all the tips and advice- I guess the only way to really make sure I can nail those 360 shots next time is the secret weapon.... practice!

Joe: Yeah the shot was too fast to change direction just by walking backwards. And yes, I have decided upon the arm- am gonna stick with the Pro idea; I think it makes good sense and I don't want to wait around for the Geo arms- will call you next week sometime!

Andre: I truly can't remember what the director was using... I don't know that much about film post production. Think he might have fixed it in the TK; using a spirit I do believe. Either way since the promo was for TV and shot on film they had the resolution to squeeze the image in a bit a correct (the very slight, might I add!) mistakes.

David: Cheers for the tips! Sounds like I was trying a similar movement to how you described; hands off the post for the turn around etc..- just need a bit more practice to get it perfect!

On an unrelated note... did some work last weekend with Morgan Freeman! I don't get star struck- how can you in this job... but I felt very nervous working on a (semi) drama with the guy... also managed to get a photo- even though it looks like i've been stuck on in post! YES!
Attached File  morgan2.jpg   85.32KB   188 downloads
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#11 David George Ellis

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 09:10 AM

Ben,

Cheers to you! If you can, get the "un-posted" transferred footage so we can judge how bad it was. Don't forget (I'm sure you haven't), if you are as passionate about this craft as it seems you are, you will be your HARSHEST critic. It may have been just nerves as well that could has caused you some of this stress. In any case, practice will make perfect. Congrats if the Director is still happy, and FU*K'em if they can't take a joke. Take care.

David
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