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#1 benedictspence

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 04:04 PM

Hi Dudes;

Just got back from a pretty nasty day shooting for MTV and wanted to pick the collective brains if anyone can give me any advice...

I do alot of work for MTV UK including the very nice Pimp My Ride and the not so nice MTV Cribs- my current bane. Just wondering if anyone out there had worked on the US version and could enlighten me as to how it is all shot...

In the UK version call is normally 10am- start shooting around 11. First we do a walkthrough with the celeb which today took around 3 hours; 'This is my Crib, this is my Car etc.'. Then me and the second camera (just a PD-150 so can't really be used or relied on for good footage apart from CU's) go through the house (handheld) to get big closeups. Next we clear the house and I do a walk through of the entire place in one go, 360-ing in each room a few times but not picking out any close-ups etc. Then we go though each room individually do a few push-ins towards plasma TV's , pianos etc. then leave.

Now my problems are many fold....
1) It looks crap- we don't have a pre light or a focus/iris puller (MTV UK isn't quite as well off as US). The light changes through the house; totally mixed daylight and tungsten- can't think of any quick, easy fix. Taken to using a ringlight but then that has it's own exposure problems...

2) I spent the day today in a 5 storey town house with narrow stair cases and single entrance, small rooms- this is what ALL uk cribs seem to be like; is it just me or do you Yanks get enormous bungalows with all the space in the world to spin around in?

3) Shot 4 hours of footage for a maximum of a 15 minute piece- it this overshooting or do you dudes end up with the same? I've only just got back from the shoot- almost 10 hours straight in confined spaces with the rig out infront of me, wearing the damn thing almost all the time (NLB too).

I know there doesn't seem to be much of a point to this thread other than bitching- just want to get an idea as to how you dudes shoot it... I've shot about a dozen so far and everyone is happy with the result (apart from me) but any pearls of wisdom would be quickly threaded into a nice pearl-wisdom-necklace-thing!

Ta v. much!

Ben Spence
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#2 Erik Brul

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 02:17 PM

1) It looks crap- we don't have a pre light or a focus/iris puller (MTV UK isn't quite as well off as US). The light changes through the house; totally mixed daylight and tungsten- can't think of any quick, easy fix. Taken to using a ringlight but then that has it's own exposure problems...


2) I spent the day today in a 5 storey town house with narrow stair cases and single entrance, small rooms- this is what ALL uk cribs seem to be like; is it just me or do you Yanks get enormous bungalows with all the space in the world to spin around in?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Hi Ben,

Nice postage..

1) I think they use in the States for all windows some extra studiolights which prevent the mixing with daylight and also prevent iris problems.

2) I have been in the States several times. I think all the so called popstars do live in villa or bungalows with only one floor so no stairs. I was in Florida some weeks ago, (rented a villa) and saw a MTV Crib overthere and thought at that particalar moment :

It should be relative easy to shoot a mtv crib look a like inhere (rented villa), nice rooms, nice doorsteps with enough room to keep the rig aside of you.

Hope the operators from the US will leave some feedback,

regards, Erik
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#3 Richard W. Davis

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 03:32 PM

Ben,

CRIBS is a particulary unique shoot. It is hard as hell on the body it is less than optimal for lighting etc...you have to overshoot a lot. ( because of the speeded up stuff in post)blah blah blah I have shot very many of them over the years, not so many anymore as I am on SCRUBS 8 mos. a year.

That being said I always use a focus/ iris puller (we have had custom brackets made for mini TV's attached to the Preston FIZ. ) I tell any assistant that it is more of an iris pulling job than focus as you generally shoot wide) Yes in the US we generally have a lot larger places to shoot , but we still shoot plenty of tiny places too. Just did Rob Schneiders 1923 Storybook Tudor house where upstairs I had to duck through every doorway...I am 6 2" it was probably good I shot it not Dave Chameides or Gavin Aames who are even taller. Oh and we don't shoot any PD 150's we use two either Sony D50's D 35's or 600's and or The occasional Ikegami. And yesa there is a lot of color temp mixing.

On the plus side of CRIBS the people I work with are delightful and I have traveled the world with them including London twice(I experienced the smallness and stairs) Barcelona, British Virgin Islands , Jamaica etc. So all in all it's tough but I think it's pretty fun.

As for Lighting, we run a chimera on a Frezzi dimmable sun gun and adjust accordingly. Yes it is not the prettiest on TV(it will never win a cinematography award) it is what it is...Once you accept it you can enjoy the ride. But you are going to be tired.

Remember you can always say no if someone calls...I promise you there will be a half dozen guys who would kill for the job.

All the Best,

Rich Davis
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#4 benedictspence

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 03:54 PM

Hi Guys!
Cheers for the replys!

Richard; yeah I figured thats what the answer would be- oh well worth an ask... Believe me, I know I'm lucky to have the gig! I was in bitching mode last night; I do still enjoy the cribs shoots- just need to break through the back pain first! We normally shoot on a dvw790 or a 700; with a big heavy PAG on the back for the ringlight; not too heavy but enough to make you sweat in those 5 storey houses... I've only done London based cribs although did get to go to italy for Dolce and Gabbana- talk of some NYC job soon. As for lighting, when I started it was with a 30v 200w Rifa light but because of the way we walk through the house with the celeb (unplanned and without cuts if possible) it became a bit of a liability. The ringlight has usual exposure probs but to be honest made life a lot less stress- and the talent love 'em!

Erik: Cheers dude- but that's just making me jealous! :) One day I'll show up and they'll have covered the whole house in CTO and chucked in 150w bulbs in all the fittings! Maybe if I ask for it as a birthday present from MTV???

Ben
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#5 joe mcnally

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 05:20 PM

Hi Ben
hope youve recovered a bit.
Can you persuade them to shoot on a lighter format say DSR570/450 ?
If so you could use the Flyer, if it did not fall apart on you too often ! Hello Tiffen
failing that get rid of the big battery on the camera. Can you power the ringlight from the 12v output of the rig ? Use a light Lion Pag on the camera or power it from a second 12/24v output on the sled Baer Bel ???? Or a second output from an Ultra rig
Use an LCD monitor. take viewfinder and any bits and pieces off the Digi. Handle.
Lose the camera quick release plate and screw the dovetail straight onto the camera or use the Baer Bel lightweight dovetail.
Sorry for the BB plugs but they are real solutions.
Use a light arm, new G40 or something.
Do the new Tiffen G40 arms fall apart like the Flyer arms ?

Lighting forget about it. As Lighting cameramen we tend to get a bit obsessed with correct colour temperature but believe me people watching MTV uk et al do not give a stuff and this is a good thing. Its hard to gage clients expectations. Let them grade it. Have you tried using auto tracking WB ? Mate if they arent paying for vision eng etc make a virtue of it.
WK wont help you through those narrow UK doorways I am afraid.
OK bottom line is, move to USA or anywhere MTV has shows with big houses.
Sorry only having fun but I can see you right where the money is very soon Ben, dont sweat the small stuff, think big it does not cost any extra.
Keep smiling
Joe
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#6 David A. Wolf

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Posted 27 July 2005 - 11:25 PM

Benedict:
I've been DP-ing Cribs since the first episode back in May of 2000 at Master P's house. While every "Crib" is different in size, style and structure, I have found a few tricks that really help the shoots. First off, I use two Sony D-600s and utilize the 4300K filter quite a bit for the mixed light situations. The mix of daylight and Tungsten really has a pleasing warm look to it, as long as there is not too much sun spilling in. I always turn on as many lights as possible in every room we are shooting, sometimes dim practicals and then "tweak" curtains and blinds so as not to have an overly exposed window. Windows still get blown out a lot but mostly we are concentrating on the interior of the house and not the view. Shots through the windows I can get later with an iris pull during the b-roll.

Secondly, I try to light the entire tour with as few lighting changes as possible. This really helps continuity and speeds up the whole tour by not having to stop and re-light. I will strategically place lights in corners or behind doors where even the wide angle lens won't see them. I always walk through, before rolling cameras, and show the Steadicam Op and the rest of the crew where the lights are and where the "safe areas" are for ducking out of the way. Rob Schneider was practically standing over my shoulder as I put up a 1K next to some prized surf board and oil painting in his living room the other week. After he looked at the light and the room he asked me to "bring it down a stop". I thought that was pretty funny, but complied by putting in a scrim. Then he told me what a nice job I did. Whoo hoo!!! Thanks, Deuce. I always bring an handfull of clamps as well to mount lights on doors, doorframes and closet shelves (to see the fabulous shoe collections.) Space permitting I will put up a Chimera, but more often than not I will simply bounce the light off of the ceiling if it is white.

Pushing 3db of gain is pretty common, too. As Rich said, we won't be winning any cinematography awards, but hey this is MTV. I don't think the majority of the viewers of the show care or even know the difference. Most people are used to watching too much reality crap anyway that they have become accustomed to varying degrees of video quality.

Since most of us here across the pond have been working on Cribs for a few years, we have a pretty good shooting style and formula going on. We probably average 2 1/2 to 3 hours of footage per camera. Some houses more, some less. Being a Steadicam Operator myself, I have been blessed to have flown my rig only a handfull of times on Cribs. More than I'd like to admit it, I know what 3-4 hours in the harness non-stop feels like. It don't tickle!!!

I hope some of this helps or at least keeps you inspired to continue shooting the show. It is true that there are a lot of people out there who would kill to have your job.I hear it all the time. So make the most of it, but above all have fun doing it! Good luck.

David Wolf

Ps. Rich, I ordered the Cine IIIA Ultrabright the other day for my rig. It should be in this week in time for me to take it to Las Vegas next weekend for UFC.
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#7 Richard W. Davis

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Posted 28 July 2005 - 04:58 AM

<<Ps. Rich, I ordered the Cine IIIA Ultrabright the other day for my rig. It should be in this week in time for me to take it to Las Vegas next weekend for UFC.>>

Terrrific Dave I think you will enjoy flying that a lot!!! If you have to do exposure with it though check bars often especially under changing lighting conditions. I think you are going to love that Transvideo Cinemonitor IIIA Ultrabrite. 1200 NITS is delightful. As always great working with you amigo. See ya,

Rich Davis
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#8 benedictspence

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Posted 29 July 2005 - 09:03 AM

Cheers Guys!
Thanks Joe, Rich and David. Much appreciated...

David; I do pretty much the same thing re. temperature; normally just go into the Cameras menu (sony dvw-790) and dial in 4300k electronically, leaving the filter on 3200k. Gives me that extra bit of stoppage! Think I'm gonna insist on a couple of hours pre light next time; just doens't make sense shooting it the way we do.... Will bring a bag full of clamps and magic arms! I understand what it's like having talent and their PR telling you how to light; I do loads of MTV work, lighting celebs all the time... My favourites were madonna who wanted a dedo clamped onto the camera handle, turned up full wack and a director who turned off 2 kinoflo Tubes to "soften" the key.

Just got my new shiny Pro Arm deliverd too! Very excitied about putting it through its paces!

Ben
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#9 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 05:32 PM

Baptism by fire yesterday! I did my first MTV CRIBS show and even though this is an old thread, the show still lives up to its reputation as a lot of hard work. We shot, we shot more, we over-shot and then we shot some more. I think we went through NINE tapes in my camera, plus whatever the DP was shooting for B roll. It's a good thing I enjoy the physical part of operating too.

The producer, Director and DP were great to work with and fully understood it's a difficult day for Steadi... no breaks but at least they asked ;-}. The camera was a Panasonic HDX900 with 4.5 Fuji lens. We used my Bartech for iris, mounted two wireless audio receivers and a Frezzi with softbox on top plus my CanaTrans. They all had their own handheld RCA TV receivers to watch and the AC used my Camos 7" for iris pulls (not the best to judge from but it was what it was).

Thanks to Rich for his advice, the DP for his honest description upfront and the other postings here so at least I walked in mentally knowing it would be a big day. It's a lot like the 12 and 24 solo mountain bike races I used to do; the same level of fatigue at the end as a 12 hour but without the sleep deprivation that comes with a 24 hour race.

Maybe this is payback or karma for all those days I sit on-set for ten hours and only spend twelve minutes in the rig!

Edited by Robert Starling, 15 July 2008 - 05:33 PM.

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#10 Rob Vuona SOC

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 06:05 PM

Baptism by fire yesterday! I did my first MTV CRIBS show and even though this is an old thread, the show still lives up to its reputation as a lot of hard work. We shot, we shot more, we over-shot and then we shot some more. I think we went through NINE tapes in my camera, plus whatever the DP was shooting for B roll. It's a good thing I enjoy the physical part of operating too.

The producer, Director and DP were great to work with and fully understood it's a difficult day for Steadi... no breaks but at least they asked ;-}. The camera was a Panasonic HDX900 with 4.5 Fuji lens. We used my Bartech for iris, mounted two wireless audio receivers and a Frezzi with softbox on top plus my CanaTrans. They all had their own handheld RCA TV receivers to watch and the AC used my Camos 7" for iris pulls (not the best to judge from but it was what it was).

Thanks to Rich for his advice, the DP for his honest description upfront and the other postings here so at least I walked in mentally knowing it would be a big day. It's a lot like the 12 and 24 solo mountain bike races I used to do; the same level of fatigue at the end as a 12 hour but without the sleep deprivation that comes with a 24 hour race.

Maybe this is payback or karma for all those days I sit on-set for ten hours and only spend twelve minutes in the rig!

I told you to be careful what you ask for, that you might just get it . . . .welcome to the wonderful world of Television 10-12 hour days, 8 of which are in the vest . . .LOL . . .
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#11 benedictspence

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 07:12 PM

Hi Robert et al!

Three years on and I've just finished another series of Cribs. Not much to add really but to say here in the UK, but it's still one of the few jobs where I don't look forward to how I'm gonna feel at the end of the day!

Great people and some great experiences round the UK and europe- always a fun shoot if not an easy one.

Again still finiding it hard to let the lighting go- I'm used to making things look a little nicer on camera. The series I've just finished was on a Sony 970 digibeta, normally with a ringlight or litepanel kit, I try and keep it all daylight or all tungsten depending on the room. It's not really a job you can be fussy on- they need a sh*t load of shots to edit together far more than they need beautifully lit stuff.

I'm never happy about how the show looks at the end of the day, although production alway seem happy with the end result. I think it goes to prove a point perfectly; that you don't have to produce the most amazing pictures in the world, but do a reasonable job and (importantly) be a happy guy while you're doing it and they'll get you back series after series!

Oh and I just got back from the Cribs wrap party tonight too!

BTW please have a look at my new website with my showreel and example of my DoP work at www.benedictspence.com if you're bored or something...

Ben
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#12 Bryan Trieb SOC

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 09:16 AM

Hey Y'all,

I DP/Steadi most of the MTV Canada Cribs.
Of course, I find all the same challenges you've mentioned.
We shoot on Digibeta and I too constantly re-white balance for each room at 4300 on the filter wheel for interiours.
I rig a LitePanel to the camera for talent's face during the tour.
As well, I turn on every light in the house, but when needed I ceiling bounce a Mole-Fay (daylight) from behind a door or wherever least obtrusive....it's just the right amount of kick, especially for small-medium sized rooms.
I also have the Bartech but have custom rigged the gimbal mount focus module and put the MONE motor on the iris ring, set the camera so I can see the F-stop display in my monitor, and I roll my own iris from room to room....using a wide lens, pre-setting the focus marks. They never give me a 1st who's into pulling wireless, so that's how I get through the day.
Sometimes for really tight spaces I'll keep my front mount harness on standby, but generally get through most narrow doorways and staircases.

We generally don't overshoot too much because the director/producer forms her ideas for the story quite well on the day, so I generally don't shoot more than 4 tapes on the A camera.

My fav celebs are usually the pro skateboarders cuz they always give me weed at the end of the day after they see me sweating.
: )
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#13 Rob Vuona SOC

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 12:38 PM

Hey Y'all,

I DP/Steadi most of the MTV Canada Cribs.
Of course, I find all the same challenges you've mentioned.
We shoot on Digibeta and I too constantly re-white balance for each room at 4300 on the filter wheel for interiours.
I rig a LitePanel to the camera for talent's face during the tour.
As well, I turn on every light in the house, but when needed I ceiling bounce a Mole-Fay (daylight) from behind a door or wherever least obtrusive....it's just the right amount of kick, especially for small-medium sized rooms.
I also have the Bartech but have custom rigged the gimbal mount focus module and put the MONE motor on the iris ring, set the camera so I can see the F-stop display in my monitor, and I roll my own iris from room to room....using a wide lens, pre-setting the focus marks. They never give me a 1st who's into pulling wireless, so that's how I get through the day.
Sometimes for really tight spaces I'll keep my front mount harness on standby, but generally get through most narrow doorways and staircases.

We generally don't overshoot too much because the director/producer forms her ideas for the story quite well on the day, so I generally don't shoot more than 4 tapes on the A camera.

My fav celebs are usually the pro skateboarders cuz they always give me weed at the end of the day after they see me sweating.
: )

Weed? whats that? . . . .LOL . . . .only in Canada . . .oh and maybe Amsterdam . . .Da!

Hey B,
Do you know that guy Mike Holmes the TV contracter up there I want his number?
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#14 PeterAbraham

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 12:10 PM

I used to shoot Cribs for a few years. Maybe..... 1998-2000. Did a bunch of 'em. Merciless hours indeed. The fun was balanced by the frustration of it being a near-documentary gig. We'd get a light on a stick sometimes- and that might be handled by a novice, which would make for momentary harsh shadows.

One of the benefits of doing them is that it forces you to increase your peripheral vision substantially. Tight spaces, uncontrolled locations, walls, windows, furniture, glass, etc. All are in the way, all cannot be moved, and all must be accounted for on the fly. Some rooms were shot without even a walk-through. We DID have lighting sometimes but not consistently.

I know I'm forgetting a bunch, but here's a rough list:

Redman

Ja Rule's Crib

Miami Star Island House Party hosted by Ja Rule

Russell Simmons ( penthouse directly across the street from South Tower of WTC )

Missy Elliott

Ozzy Ozbourne home while still under reconstruction ( pre-series )

Halle Berry and Hugh Jackman's "Cribs" shoot in NYC

O-Town

Jamal Anderson ( Atlanta Falcons player )



Peter Abraham
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The Tiffen Company / Steadicam
pabraham@tiffen.com
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