I was wondering what are peoples expecting on/off time during a days shoot? Lets assume a decently weighty rig. How long are you running with the vest on before taking breaks? How often and long are the breaks?
To give a backstory here. Any shoot I've been on before only had specific steadicam shots for the day. So I had to burn for maybe 20-50 minutes but then could relax the rig (and my back!). But I have a situation coming up where it's a long day and they want the steadicam as an ongoing b-camera. They say there will be breaks, but I'd love to have some kind of guidepost as to how often/much these should be?
Thanks in advance for your input. I know everyone's experienced and physical strength is different. I want to be fair both to my client and to my body. : )
I've shot baseball where I wore the rig with a live wireless HD transmitter from the opening pitch to the 7th inning stretch without taking the rig off.
I've also done a 3D feature film where I would wear the rig for one dance number (say 3 minutes max). In that case, I'd also let them know in advance that I could do a few takes in a row and then would require a small break (fortunately in this case the dancers got tired and needed hair and makeup re-done after about two passes so I got a break by default.
I've also done Amazing Race (for Australia) where I would sometimes wear the rig for a few hours (say going up the great wall of China) and really didn't have any place to dock it (though the bad ass host would occasionally hold the rig for me).
I've done television where we were "loosing the light" and I wore the rig for the master and both overs without ever taking it off (in a case like this, it was not the fault of anybody that we were running out of day, just too many pages trying to be shot before sunset so I was happy to help.
Conversely, I've done commercials where the DP and or the Director were 'dicking around' and didn't know their craft. So they would ask me to put the rig on, I'd mount up, show them the shot and then immediately dock it. Eventually they figured out it wasn't my job to stand there while they lit or figured out what they wanted the action to look like and either built a second camera on sticks to light with or actually rehearsed the scene with the actors before I picked up the camera.
The reason for all the examples is to illustrate that every job has different and specific criteria and every operator has different abilities and attitudes (I would essentially wear the rig indefinitely 17 years ago vs now I just politely say, "no" when they want me to wear it for an excessive amount of time). A note here is that when I first started I wasn't a very good operator so I relied on my endurance and can do attitude to get work. Plus I was 24 and dumb and in great shape.
An important skill set for an operator and a steadicam operator is the ability to communicate what you can and can't do and perhaps to suggest a better way to do something. This skill plays a big part in determining how long you should or shouldn't wear the rig.
I know that's not a minutes and seconds answer but it will hopefully provide some kind of base.
In terms of minutes and seconds, I full sized rig (PRO with an Alexa and Master Primes for example) could probably easily be worn for 5 or 10 minutes if needed but would preferably be worn for a minute or two (one or two rehearsals or takes) and then docked. A mini with a super speed could probably be carried around all day, including a trip to craft service.
Use your time now to practice lots of long/longer shooting stints and improve your core strength.
Even tiny breaks that they don't notice where you just get a moment is smart, without making big announcements that you need a break. So practice having the stand close by etc.
Watch all that energy you use early in the day when you're fresh too, save it for later.
Lastly, i try to never make the shoot about me; power through the hard parts without complaint. Use the day to get better/tougher, and make your client happy they hired you. It's part of the job so figure it out or this may not be the job for you. Guys/girls who complain seldom go unnoticed. The amount you are getting paid doesn't matter, cheap or expensive they expect to get the work done.
All above agreed, with emphasis on "tiny breaks". I feel that figuring out the rhythm of these is an art form. Sometimes you'll be asked if you need one, but not the majority of the time, so you've got to take the initiative. Dock up and stay within a foot or two, or take the arm off and walk the next shot with your bosses. If you are far from your dock, your dolly grip (or any available) will happily take the weight for a few. If none of them are present, shoulder it and lean against a wall/tree/rock.
They are probably going to take some time for A Cam to set each shot on your upcoming show, no matter what support platform. Use each of these moments, and quietly think about where you want to be next, because getting the shot effectively will typically keep you in the rig for less takes.
Sometimes the job hurts, and there's just nothing you can do about it: use the larger breaks between jobs to keep your core, legs and knees in good shape, and it may hurt less.
I much prefer many short breaks (even a 3second on the dock can help) to one long break where your body just cools down and you then you have to put on the cold vest on like a wet bathing suit. Also always keep a big smile (even if you are in pain) and if they ask does it hurt just say no it doesn't.
Can you put any more specifics of time to this? I'm positive that tiny dock breaks will happen... but in general, is there ANY type of "rule-of-thumb" for On/Off periods? SAY: 45 on, 15minutes Break.... Or any other combo?
Above it looked like 10 minutes and then a break for a larger rig isn't so unusual (See, I didn't know that!). With my larger setup (a Sony FS7 with a Shogun) I find 30 minutes with microbreaks between takes is enough to then want to take the vest off for a bit. But what if it's an Un-knowledgeable client who just thinks 4-hours on is normal? Or -is- that normal as well? I don't know. That's why some harder numbers would be awesome. (I understand there's a huge range of variables.)
Mike, you also mentioned an example "wore the rig for the master and both overs without ever taking it off" -- What did that equate to in minutes?
Note: I personally would LOVE to keep the rig on all day. I love using it (I assume like everyone here). I wish reality would allow for it.
I just did the wall of China too! But it was only with an OSMO (Oooh, nasty word). The bigger steps can be killers! I both wished I had my full rig with me and was also happy I didn't. haha...
In this thread I'm not trying to figure out my own endurance. I'm trying to learn what an industry expectation of endurance is. Your 2 hours on, 3 hours off (Is that what you meant? there was a typo. Or you meant "these" hours) is a great example. Curious for a range of people's experiences. Thanks!!
I know it may be hard to comprehend sometimes, but there is absolutely NO rules for time on/time off. Like many ops who've been doing it a while and jump from live to episodic to features to commercials, Music videos or corporate jobs. Sometimes I'm a human tripod when I was told it would be a few shots, sometimes I come in, do 2-3 hours and am sent home. Just recently covering the election coverage in Telemundo network studios here. I rigged up at 6pm sharp, and stopped at 3:15am. Extremely small moves,. my AC and I timed my breaks where I docked the rig, all included was just under 45 minutes from 6pm til 3:15am. none was over 2 minutes, Absolutely no liquid or food in studio so I would run out with vest and arm to the door where I would grab a mouthful of food, one gulp of water and back in, in time to rig up and get to position 1 for the live bump in. It was all live all the time except for the extremely short commercial breaks. Vest never came off for over 9 hours.
4 hours after wrap, I was on a cruise ship on another job that went 16 hours the first day.
Moral of my story/comment....
No matter what the job description is, expect anything..and DO NOT waver on your rate, this way you'll never be upset if your working too much as compared to any discount you may have given.
Remember like Mike says, SMILE! it's the best job on earth!.. Except for saving lives and kittens
Wow! Telemundo runs their business like they are in South America exploiting labor. Yes, I know they have been owned by NBC for years now. Sorry to hear nothing has changed since I left Miami 9 years ago.
That job was just one of those jobs where it was live, Good thing is the rig was light, a 13" Prompter but still light. Sled was 41lbs, was able to use the Atlas arm. They're not all like that with them.