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Direction for Steadicam


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#1 Jeffery Cools

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 12:35 PM

Hi guys,

The local directors guild has approached me to help put together a work-shop for directors who want to use steadicam in their productions. I have a pretty good idea of where I'm going to start but I'd really like your help. I'm sure we've all been asked to use the steadicam in a matter that speeds up production i.e. stand here and shoot, now stand here and shoot and I'm sure we've been asked to do a shot that's really better suited for tripod or dolly etc. This is where I need your assistance. I'm looking for advice to tell directors about how to use the steadicam more effective. The guild feels that because Steadicam has been around longer than most of the new directors have been living. The steadicam operators have a great deal of knowledge in how direction (camera only) should happen on a set. If you have any great story's about when a steadicam should be used and when it shouldn't be used (safety first) please share them. I'm sure we'll all learn from this. Thanks in advance!

Jeff
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#2 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 10:40 PM

Jeff,

A couple basic misconceptions that you should dispel:

All the coverage for a scene needs to be done on the Steadicam once you start a scene that way (i.e. CUs on actors when they stop during a walk and talk) because they fear it will look different. A good stop on a Steadicam can certainly be cut to conventional coverage.

Wide lenses only. Give me a break.

Something you should imprint in their brain: NEVER TOUCH THE STEADICAM OR THE OPERATOR
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#3 nick franco

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 10:49 PM

Something you should imprint in their brain: NEVER TOUCH THE STEADICAM OR THE OPERATOR

Yes, Yes, Yes!
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#4 JamesSainthill

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 12:35 AM

Hey Jeff,
Give Damon Moreau a call. Like yourself, he also lives in Calgary. Recently, he was the 'A' Camera/ Steadicam Operator on a little film called "Brokeback Mountain" & the 'B' Camera/ Steadicam Operator on 'The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford" starring some guy by the name of Brad Pitt.

From what his Father-In-Law tells me about him, he's a class act and very nice guy. I'm sure he would be happy to offer you some insight and maybe even guest lecture at your seminar.

If you don't have his phone number you can find him in the IATSE 669 membership directory or you can find his contact info on his web site - "www.goinsteadi.com" .

Hope this helps and good luck with all those DGCers!


J.St.Hill
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#5 Andrew Gibbins

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 06:19 AM

Jeff,

A couple basic misconceptions that you should dispel:

All the coverage for a scene needs to be done on the Steadicam once you start a scene that way (i.e. CUs on actors when they stop during a walk and talk) because they fear it will look different. A good stop on a Steadicam can certainly be cut to conventional coverage.

Wide lenses only. Give me a break.

Something you should imprint in their brain: NEVER TOUCH THE STEADICAM OR THE OPERATOR


I am considering getting into operating (looking at finances etc)! Why on earth would they touch you?
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#6 Lars Erik

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 10:32 AM

They touch you and the rig for a number of reasons. Sometimes the director is too close to you and touch the bottom of your rig with their legs by mistake. This happens at least once a day.

Other times, they just get a new idea and want to help you re-frame, which never works. And they try to move the rig or you, and this all usually makes the rig unsteady.

So basically, the only person to touch the rig, is the op. Because very small movements on the rig, can be hugely visable.

The only person to touch the operator, is the spotter. The person who helps you not to fall, i.e. when going down backwards down stairs and stuff like that.


LE
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#7 Charles Papert

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 11:41 AM

Typically when you are lining up a shot and walking it through with the director looking over your shoulder, a certain breed of director (and sometimes DP) will want to grab the post and show you the frame they were thinking of rather than have to describe it. I've learned a number of techniques to deal with this; two of my favorite are as follows:

Chances are good that their "preferred" framing will not be all that accurate, so I then ask "oh, do you want that much headroom"? and they will say "no, no, of course not" and then they dip the frame down and I say "oh, Ok, so I should give them a haircut", or you can add "do you want all of that extra movement in there too? I can do that if you like" and pretty soon they will get so frustrated trying to make the rig behave that they will let go. Don't forget to lean forward to pretend to study the monitor with them, which of course will make the rig start to shoot out away from you and force them to have to reign it back. This is a bit of a smartass way to go about things, but if you can get away with it depending on the personalities involved, it will work wonders.

A really simple and effective way is that again, when they grab the post and line up what is again always a slightly off frame, you put your hand over theirs and guide them into a better framing, "like this?" 99% of them will be so spooked by the physical contact that they will immediately let go and realize they were invading your domain. Be forewarned: the other 1% might try to follow you home after wrap...!
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#8 nick franco

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 02:29 PM

Only 1%? come on you're just being modest. :rolleyes:
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#9 Rob Vuona SOC

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 03:05 PM

Great Topic, but not specific . . . .By this I mean all of you are doing such incredible productions such as "Brokback Mountain" . . .etc . . . which by the way had incredible steadicam . . . !!! But did your question regarding the directors include all of us Multicam Live TV Steadicam Operators who have to have a cable attached. Because if you are including us then there is a whole new line of recomendations . . .LOL . . .

Cool topic

Thanks

Peace Out
Rob
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#10 Andrew Gibbins

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 04:26 PM

I can't believe that directors or DOP's go anywhere near an operator or rig. That astounds me! I have been a 'normal camera operator' in a number of situations and have never had that. Do they not trust Steadicam operators or do they want to fiddle with the cool gear?
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#11 Dave Bittner

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 09:02 AM

Something that's always amused me is how often a director will assume the "steadicam stance" (right hand crossed in front, left hand out, looking like Darth Vader doing a force-choke) when trying to walk through a shot with you.

Directors and DPs who are new with steadicam always want to try on the rig, and I always try to get them in it as soon as possible. This gives them and appreciation for (a) how heavy it is and (2) how hard it is to make it look easy.
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#12 Gus Trivino

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 04:17 PM

uhuhuhuhahahahah

"...Be forewarned: the other 1% might try to follow you home after wrap...!..."

great advice Charles

A good idea is:
-Buy a electric lighter igniter.
-Modified it to 12V with his control to the gimbal (like a Zoe control Zoom)
-When the director touch the Sled, Turn on the lighter... :D
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#13 Martin Stacey

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 06:30 AM

Hi Guys

A director would never touch the rig.... Yeah Right!!!!

Cheers,

Martin

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#14 David George Ellis

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 07:13 AM

Do they not trust Steadicam operators or do they want to fiddle with the cool gear?



I think it comes from an inherent propensity to show than tell. I can understand that. Annoying, yes. But if they can't say it, then I'd rather they put the hand on during the blocking, not the take. Sounds stupid, I know. But I just let go of the post and have them try to frame the shot themselves to show just how sensitive to touch the rig can be.

After they show me, I then put what they said into words such as, "Oh so you want me to frame out the drunken cheerleader and then reveal her when the midget crosses into frame?" Whatever it takes to get the shot right, I'm all for it. In the field of communication, touching is as much a part of communication as speech.

To put my two cents in Jeffery, the Director should have a storyboard of the shots in question and spend a little time blocking on the day. Also, if the Director insists on looking over your shoulder during a take, they must give you an arm's-length distance to cover any miscues by your subjects.

Good luck,

David
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#15 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 11:57 AM

"drunken cheerleader... the midget crosses.... In the field of communication, touching is as much a part of communication as speech.... they must give you an arm's-length distance to cover any miscues by your subjects."

Sounds like a typical night at Jumbos Clown Room with Ron.
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