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It finally happened to me !!

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#1 GregCode


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Posted 17 February 2004 - 09:52 PM

Let me set the stage

Music video with two kids running full steam. We were up in a canyon in Malibu. The ground was dirt and rock and uneven. First shot was a preceding shot which went very well. We then turned around for a shot following the two kids. Of course I don't need a spotter I say. Camera rolls and action, the kids bolt. I take two steps the second one landing on a loose rock and my rig jets out in front of me and down I go, head first. It happened very very fast, yet I said to myself on the way down "Wow it finally happened to me.

Damage report:

Body- cuts, bruises, headache, sore back, sore neck. I think I'll make it.

Camera- no damage except for a filter

Rig- :( I don't know the full report but it's not good.

Tomorrow begins the insurance circus ( Can't wait) Good thing I have Erwin to talk to!

I'll let you know how it goes

Greg Code
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#2 Charles Papert

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Posted 17 February 2004 - 11:14 PM

Bummer Greg, sorry to hear it.

After two falls over the years having (in those occasional instances)"no thanks"'d a spotter, I've seen the light. Sort of a bright flash of light leaving spots behind...! I know a lot of operators feel that a spotter will get in the way, or will possibly bring them down if THEY fall, and maybe it doesn't look as macho or whatever; but for me it's just not worth it. I now use one for nearly every shot, unless I'm walking forwards on level ground. A great spotter is just about invisible anyway, until you need them.

Hope the body and gear get better soon (and maybe you get some new goodies out of it!)
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#3 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 18 February 2004 - 04:01 AM

Bummer Greg, sorry to hear it.

After two falls over the years having "no thanks"'d a spotter, I've seen the light. I know a lot of operators feel that a spotter will get in the way, will possibly bring them down if THEY fall, maybe it doesn't look as macho or whatever, but for me it's just not worth it.

Hope the body and gear get better soon (and maybe you get some new goodies out of it!)

I 2nd that. Had a fall in January, declined the spotter since it was SUPPOSED to a fast walk up a set of stairs....

Well the actor ran. I followed, hooked a toe on the steps Started to go down, almost got back uder it but couldn't quite get there. Decided to Power forward since I had a nice soft group of extras to slam into. I made it 25 feet forward hit an extra who saw me comming and actually CAUGHT the rig.... I on the other hand opened the door that they were knockng on with my head and landing on my left knee...

Now I'm not totally sure that a spotter could have help but you never know, so I will never make that mistake again.

BTW the insurance claim was one Hytron 50, one battery plate and mount on the Pro II, and the Lower post mount. Total cost was less than $2,000 Not bad considering.....
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#4 Mitch Gross

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Posted 18 February 2004 - 09:07 AM

I hope that extra got a little something added to his check for that save!
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#5 Brad Hruboska

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Posted 18 February 2004 - 12:50 PM

You know until you do the fall, you just don't know....I did one music video where the spotter tripped me two times. Mostly the falls have been the result of someone leaving a case or a bag or a something in the path that the spotter misses, I had a nasty almost fall in Mexico, on the beach, sand caved and i got the back of my leg necely lacerated, that salt water stings guys....Forward falls are the worse cuz its hard to get under the rig and save it, possible on grass, or pavement ( if you remembered your knee pads). Running shots = knee pads..... :rolleyes:

Really go over your rig, check all the screw lkeads and bearings, if anything feels different, it has been bent and is in need of replacement. IF YOU HAVE A CARBON FIBRE POST, CHECK IT VERY THOUROUGHLY, OR TRY AND GET IT REPLACED. They have a nasy habit of failing catastophically months later.....
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#6 ericoh


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Posted 18 February 2004 - 06:02 PM

I had my first about 3 weeks ago. Fortunately I was walking backwards. I had worked with these grips before and they know my style of operating (it was a music video). I don't use a spotter in most situations as I find that unless I've worked with them before they can get in my way (especially in performace style videos where the operating is about "cool movement and angles").

The shot was suppose to be a POV of a person being blown back by a shock wave. It required me pushing in from about 25ft away to a CU (25mm lens), and when given the cue, I was supposed to pull back just as quickly while booming until the rig was quite high above me. Fortunately there was a grip walking beside me because on the third rehearsal, I brought the rig to far over my head and my feet simply wasn't travelling as fast as my body. Just like Greg, the thought "no way, I'm falling" went through my head and everything slowed down to "bullet time" from the moment I tripped to the moment I hit the ground. When time went back to normal again. I was on my back, Ryan (the grip walking beside me) had my rig in his hands. The only injury I sustained was a badly banged up thumb (see pic) on my operating hand as it got pinched by the yoke of the gimbal.. The rig was fine as it didn't even touch the ground. Of course this was the first steadicam shot up for that day, so I went on and operated another 7 hours with a bum thumb. Suffice to say I thanked Ryan for saving me the hassle of makin an insurance claim.

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#7 Lawrence Karman

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Posted 18 February 2004 - 09:18 PM

:o :o :o :o :o :o Eric, I didn't need to see that. I think it was Dan Kneece who said any time he goes near steps with the rig he puts on knee pads. I have followed his advice religiously amd perhaps Eric's experience will reinforce that to all readers. It's worth enduring the "you already got the job" jokes. Thankfully I haven't taken a tumble on the stairs yet.
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#8 Daniel Stilling DFF

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Posted 19 February 2004 - 02:04 AM

Hey all,

Well, I had a fall again last December when shooting a feature in New Mexico.
I was running backwards on loose gravel, shooting a car. The shot was supposed to stop at a certain point, but they kept going, the director didn't cut, so on I went until I reached an area where they had put cables on the ground, and of course I tripped and too soon my butt kissed the ground, followed by the camera and then my rig.
Well, as it was 15 degrees, I was wearing huge boots, and that didn't help.
I had a spotter, but he was useless. Didn't even feel him trying to keep me up.

Result: a broken Heden motor, quickly replaced by production with an M1 (not a bad trade!!) and bruised ego (again!!)

Daniel Stilling
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#9 Ruben Sluijter

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Posted 19 February 2004 - 07:07 PM

I had my fall on a live television show while I was on air!
Production covered up a hole in the pavement with a piece of carpeting during a commercial break and I forgot where it was!
As I preceded someone walking out of the Big Brother house my foot slipped in the hole and I went back and to the right really, really, really fast!
My incredible fortune was that there was a rather large fence between me and the fast approaching ground so my fall was broken by slamming the rig into said fence.
It happened so fast that neither my assistant nor the lighting guy, who was struggling to get through the gate at the time, even realised what happened.
In fact, I hardly realised it until it went quiet in the intercom and I replayed the incident in my mind.

Even during the slow-motion "bullet-time" moment (that I certainly experienced) it didn't occur to me that I might be falling and that that would explain that weird sensation of incredible speed I was experiencing and why the ground was growing at such an alarming and unnatural rate.
I remember my biggest fear being that I lost the shot while I was on-air...stupid isn't it, considering that I came very close to seriously hurting myself.

It is a very exclusive club and none of the members are probably very happy about joining it but it does give you a unique respect for the rig that you can't put to words.
You know what can go wrong and it's not just academic knowledge, it's something that is very difficult to explain to people.
It's also a very effective wake-up call to always remember your safety checks (the ones they try to hammer into you during the workshops, where you might think...no, won't happen to me....)
And let's be honest, it's very easy to become complacent about those and just 'do the shot quickly'.
It usually will go wrong during the so called easy shots....
So take care out there because it's so ridiculously easy to fall you'll be surprised you've never done it before.

EDIT: Yay!!! the story of my pain and embaressment has made me an advanced member!!!
If I tell the story of the horse, the naked women, the cauliflower and the police officers, that should make me super-supreme-advanced-very-big-member!

Peace, Ruben "I wonder if the ground will be friends with me" Sluijter
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#10 ericoh


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Posted 20 February 2004 - 09:25 PM

:o  :o  :o  :o  :o  :o  Eric, I didn't need to see that. I think it was Dan Kneece who said any time he goes near steps with the rig he puts on knee pads. I have followed his advice religiously amd perhaps Eric's experience will reinforce that to all readers.

Sorry if I grossed you out Lawrence. :wacko: You're absolutely right about the kneepads. I often use them anytime the ground is uneven, gravelly, or full of cables. This time we were in a studio and it was level concrete. Also, knee pads would not have helped as I fell backwards. Only damage was y thumb and a little scuff on the arm of Walter's Lightweight Harness. Being the great guy that he is, Walter was more concerned for my well being than his demo harness.
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#11 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 25 February 2004 - 01:48 PM

Well Greg, hope you are okay.

But...isn't this kind of what you've been waiting for? Now you can get some new gear and replace some (or maybe most if the damage was bad enough) of your older Master Elite gear.

It could end up being a blessing in disguise!
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#12 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 25 February 2004 - 05:36 PM

Hey, this thread reminds me that I've gotten lazy about wearing knee pads. While I do put them on for running shots, as well as stairs, there are too many other situations where I don't. This is in part because I'm unhappy with the pads I have, as I'm always adjusting them. I carry two pairs - one soft pair that slide over your pants with an elastic keeping them in place and one traditional hard shell pair that have velcro straps. I find that I spend too much time fiddling with them though (especially the hard shell pair). There is a company in the North Western United States called Duluth Trading that sells bags (Gatemouth), etc. that claims they have the ultimate knee pads (http://www.duluthtra...p/catgloves.asp). What kind of pads are you folks using and what to you think?
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#13 ericoh


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Posted 26 February 2004 - 03:43 PM

Hi Alec,

Those Duluth knee pads look comfortable. However, they seem to be more for people working on their knees as opposed to pads that protect your knees from a fall/impact. Not to say that they won't work.

The knee pads I use are roller blading knee pads which are made specifically for falls/impact. The first layer is a layer of neoprene that cradles my knee with a hole cut-out for the patella, creating an "air-gap" (for the lack of a better word) between the 1st and 2nd layer. The next (2nd) layer is also padded with shock-absorbing "nipples/bumps" on the inside. The third and final layer is the outer layer which is made from hard plastic. There is also an "air-gap" between the 3rd and 2nd layer. I guess the theory is that should you fall, your knees will not get any impact on them due to the "gaps". I don't know if I've confused you with my descriptions. Anyway, they are made by Rollerblade. Like you I sometimes wear soft knee pads inside my rollerblade ones. Depends on the situation.


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#14 Erwin Landau

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Posted 27 February 2004 - 02:24 AM

Knee pads are a great help. (Didn't Ted Churchill always wear Pads, Always hidden under his long wide pants...) I have a pair at all times on my cart just in case, the moment I hear: running, stairs, through the woods, or anything that is quicker, stranger, etc. then usual I put them on. I have some ancient scate pads, you know the ones you would get with roller scates, you remember the ones with 4 scateboard wheels...

Not to heavy duty but enough to save your knees, I use them a lot when I have to start or end on one knee on a shot, or for a extreme low lock offs etc.

Oh, I just remembered a story:

I was shooting on a stair case of a public building, 2 years ago I believe, you know the huge ones, about 20 steps. Preceding an actor and of course diagonal down the stairs.
I had a very eager and over enthusiastic spotter. We did a rehearsal, on the first, the spotter trips and falls down the stairs, a couple of bruses, bloody elbows... I'm fine.
We do another rehearsal same thing but this time he almost takes me with him.

I tell him, I'm fine and I don't need him to spot me... Long story short. We had to do 7 takes... because of Sound. The guy kept spotting me anyways and was tripping every single time wipeing out with a huge amount of noise and swearing... on the 6th take they send him away to the nurse, I think he had a concusion... 7th take without him... perfect, print, moving on.

A spotter can be gold or just drive you nuts....
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#15 iankerr



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Posted 27 February 2004 - 03:27 AM

Not quite the same as tripping but...

One of my first operating jobs was during the Commonwealth Games in '94 (?). I was one of two SK operators that the host broadcaster used to introduce each racer for the track events.

I had just finished shooting the last runner's intro and was returning back to the sidelines for my next shot when I took my hands off the rig to see how the arm balance was doing (I was used to a EFP and hadn't quite got the hang of the SK's adjustments).

WHAM! The stud at the base of the arm snapped and the whole rig cratered into the track. I remember thinking "The camera fell off! No, the arm fell off! No the camera fell off!".

I stared at the rig as the crowd of 50,000 behind me made a "Woooah" sound before I sheepishly dragged the rig off the track. I pulled the camera off and threw the viewfinder back on in time to catch the finish.

When I spoke to the SK supplier they figured that the camera was overweight for the rig- cel phone in hand we weighed the camera on the athelete's scale and reported back to the supplier that we were 5 pounds under so at least that made me feel a bit better...

The first and last time I used an SK- never liked them. I did keep a souvenier...

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