Anyone who knows me knows I have no compunction with grabbing some tools, cracking just about ANYTHING open and figuring out what's wrong/how to fix it. Sometimes, you just need to go to the guys who make it and have them fix it.
I was on a promo shoot in Hollywood on Wednesday when I noticed my side-to-side of my PRO DB3 was in need of adjustment. When necessary, I can do this between setups in a matter of moments with 2 tools in my kit. However, I was having trouble backing the 4-40 dogpoint screw out of the adjustment knob, which resulted in me stripping the screw.
I started making phone calls for other PRO owners with a DB3 in LA, and 2 immediately came 3 people came to mind. Knowing Dave Baldwin was the closest, I texted him and briefly explained: "Not an emergency with repercussions on set, but definitely a problem in my mind. Can I borrow your DB3?" He says sure, and within 15 minutes, he's on set handing me his PRO HD Upper JBox and DB3 attached.
Removing the screws to swap my DB3 for his just seems tedious, so instead I just decide to remove the MDR2 and swap his Upper JBox and DB3 for mine.
So, between setups, and in less than 5 minutes, I removed the camera, removed the MDR2 from the quick release shoe, unlocked the upper JBox collar, popped off the bayonet and released the centerpost LEMO, swapped in Dave's Upper JBox and DB3 and rebuilt. IN LESS THAN 5 MINUTES.
I didn't need a PA to run my sled to the manufacturer for them to do the repair.
I didn't need an hour or 2, everyone waiting on me, to correct the problem.
I also didn't need a small adjustment that could potentially influence my shot to be the albatross around my neck all day, distracting me from THE SHOT.
I know I've fallen into some of the "bad habits" of newer operators as far as paying attention to the shot, staying on set and being the operator. I've been working hard to correct that issue. I also know my nature as a huge techie and obsessive gear-head, so knowing there's something that needs fixing on my sled would distract the hell outta me when I should be watching the setup, helping talk lights in and out of the shot, etc. A few minutes time and a hell of a guy like Dave Baldwin later, and I've got peace of mind and total focus on the shot.
Having backup gear is great, but having parity and modularity for backup gear is essential. Having a community of Steadicam operators that support you and are willing to loan you a key piece of their sled for a day is also amazing!
So, thank you Dave Baldwin! Looks like I owe you a trip to Taste of Chicago once you're back!
Also, thank you Jack, Michelle, Chad and Tommy at GPI PRO Systems for taking the time to quickly fix what I screwed up! I promise to watch the videos next time so I know what to tighten down and what not to...