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Forget the Nits, Be A Great Op

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#1 Dave Chameides

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 06:11 AM

I don't really hang out on this board that much but lately I've been considering actually upgrading to an HD monitor (ya know....for kids) and I've been trolling through all sorts of posts, old and new looking for information.  And may I say, it's hard to recognize some of the writing on here as coming from Steadicam Ops. 


I know that things have changed a lot, but when I started some 20 plus years ago, being a Steadicam Op meant more than being able to balance a rig and execute shots - it meant you carried yourself with a certain air of dignity (at least that's what the amazing Bob Crone taught me) and that we were all in this together.  Ops stuck together and we didn't publicly flame eachother or call eachother out.  Granted this was pre internet and even pre cell phone, but we realized that publicly badmouthing one of us, or publicly acting like a jerk in the way that we dealt with eachother and others, made us all look bad.  Maybe I was alone in this but I suspect I wasn't.  


We didn't all love eachother and in fact, one on one, I can guarantee you there was some of the same sniping that goes on here, but it wasn't in public and it wasn't as cruel as many of the comments I've seen here are. And at the end of the day, if an op was on set and was down, a call went out, and ANYONE, and I mean ANYONE, who could help came to their aid.  Because we were all in it together and we realized that if one of us looked bad, we all did.


What happened to that?  


I'm sure others will say that I am being overly nostalgic, and perhaps I am, but there was never the amount of vitriol out there that I see on this forum sometimes.  And it's vitriol over relatively stupid stuff.  So what if Op X likes a rig other than yours and Op Y thinks he has more nits than you have?  Who cares?  Does their opinion diminish you as an op?  Chill out.  Do good work, be professional, help others and expect nothing in return than the knowledge that you are a pro.  Period.  




I think we can be better than this.


And on the subject of Nits, I had the great fortune to do C cam on Person of Interest with Ron Baldwin the other day.  So great to hang out with another quality op, chew the fat, and catch up.  And as an added bonus, Aiken Weiss showed up to see the Director so there were three of us for a bit.  Quite nice.......but I digress....ah yes, Nits.


Ron flies the Nebtek HD monitor (I'm sorry for calling you out Ron and showing people what a terrible op you must be because of the monitor you use) and I hadn't seen it.  Moreso, I'm always confused by this whole "HD is unusable in daylight" issue.  Unusable?  Anyway, we took his monitor outside and viewed it in full daylight and under a silk as well (we tried cloud dancing but nothing changed).  As with almost every other HD monitor I've tested, you could see it in pretty much every angle accept where the sun was directly reflecting and then I was able to just adjust the angle.  Sure the colors were muted, and it wasn't pristine, but you could frame the shot.  So I'm confused by what "unusable" means.


As I started this stream of consciousness I pointed out that I've been in the rig for over twenty years.  In fact I started out with Model 1 serial number 23.  For those of you who don't know what that was, it had a 2 inch monitor that generally turned on, lo mode meant a 20 minute retool and even then you had to bend over like a pretzel to see the monitor, and the post was about 3/4 inch wide if that.  And you know what?  I did some pretty good work with that rig (when it turned on) and once, on a music video, some pretty good work with it when it didnt turn on by watching a 13" wood paneled CRT TV we were transmitting to that the grips ran next to me with.  


So ease off on all the angst about the gear if you would.  Sure you want the best gear you can get for your money, gear that's right for what you are doing with your career, but gear is not going to make you a great operator and railing on someone else's gear isn't going to either. Practice, execution, comportment, and being a professional are what are going to make you great.  Stick with that and you'll make us all proud.


To paraphrase Bob all those years ago "The irony of what we do is that if we do it well, no one will ever know we were there."  He stressed that this had to do as much with attitude as it did with operating.  And I think he was right.


Thanks for reading, now off to ice my back and kick the kids off the front porch.




(And again Ron, I'm really sorry for outing you with the whole Nebtek thing.  I think you've got a good future ahead of you and should you get a good monitor with more Nits some day, I think you have a chance.)

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#2 Henrique Araujo

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 09:32 AM

Great post!
I'm quite new in the forum and seen some of the posts you refer too. I might not have a big rig yet or a nice monitor but I'm always ready to be there and help when needed.
I hope this post helps to bring a nice atmosphere to our community.
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#3 Mike Germond SOC

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 09:59 AM

Thank you! Many of us do not have the clout to stick our necks out like this, and I agree whole heartedly. "Nits" could be replaced with "arm", "sled", and many more components...
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#4 RonBaldwin


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Posted 25 September 2013 - 10:49 AM

A fine comb will also get rid of nits
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#5 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 10:58 AM

Well said, Dave.  Well said.

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#6 William Demeritt

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 12:10 PM

"Crack is whack!" -Whitney Houston

"Nits are nuts!" -Dave Chameides
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#7 John Stout

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 12:23 PM

Like  1,000 times...

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#8 chris bangma

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 05:58 PM

Basically you summarize to say that it is just a tool in the end, and its all about how you use the tool.  Granted some tools are a little nicer in the end, but they do not make a bad operator better, or a good operator worse.

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#9 GerardSava



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Posted 25 September 2013 - 06:14 PM

Damn it! I'm a week away from a new rig, only to find out I'll still be a terrible person.

btw, which way off the porch go the kids? In or out?

Lucky to know you, 


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#10 Rob Vuona SOC

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 07:15 PM

Hi Dave,

I just paraphrased this in another post but not nearly as eloquently as you.   Great Post,  


but, to quote Baldwin, from a night of drinking at his house, where he said, Charles Papert once told him that all operators learn, hone their craft, peak, then start on the downslope to sucking after about 15 years . . . . .LOL . . . . .


Obviously the fact that Baldwin is using that Nebtek suggests that he is on the downslope . . . . . . 



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#11 John Buzz Moyer

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 09:12 PM

Don't those knights say "Nit" ...or, is that "Neet"??

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#12 Jeff Muhlstock SOC

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Posted 26 September 2013 - 07:47 AM

I love this thread!  And I like the guys who are posting here!   I did a commercial this summer and the Director actually suggested I turn off my monitor to get an "authentic POV" performance...  hahahha  WTF.   I did this, and he loved the shot!  So there, no daylight monitor needed!  So much for upgrading.  I'll stay with what i have for now.


riding the downward slide...



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#13 PeterAbraham


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Posted 26 September 2013 - 08:03 PM

Agreed, this is a great upbeat thread!


Oh lordy. 27 years in. Downward slide, into pit, emerged from pit, happily Operating again.


Well articulated, Dave.


Proud to have owned # 23 ( Old Smokey ) before you. Superb provenance in that sled...


Bob taught me how to teach. His grace and professionalism and decency were inspiring. Still are.


Not mentioning which monitor I use. Because it doesn't matter.


The real community still exists. It always will. Know why?

Because nobody likes a bully.



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#14 Stefano Ben

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 04:24 AM

Wonderfull post Dave!

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#15 Kevin Andrews SOC

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 02:01 PM


To paraphrase Bob all those years ago "The irony of what we do is that if we do it well, no one will ever know we were there."  He stressed that this had to do as much with attitude as it did with operating.  And I think he was right.



Love this! 

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