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Near-wipeout, immortalized


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#1 Charles Papert

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 01:32 PM

Last year I did the pilot for the NBC series "Raines", which premieres tonight (Eric did the series run). There was a scene where the cops surround a house and take a battering ram to the front door; one particular shot was being covered by the A camera from the front yard, and at the last second I was asked to jump in and "find something" with the Steadicam. I saw an opportunity to track with the back group of cops by sliding sideways through an adjacent yard. No rehearsal, right into picture. I remember that the lead cop came on faster than I had expected, and after a number of sidesteps my foot got caught up on a rock or a depression in the ground and I lost my balance and fell sideways. Unbelievably, there happened to be a grip standing in my path who caught me and all was well--I would have most certainly hurt myself as well as the rig since the next thing behind him was a picket fence (possible impalement?!).

Since all of the attention was on the A camera, no-one saw what happened so we reset for the next take and I sussed out the issue in the path (and operated the next take with the rig on the other side so I wouldn't have to scuttle sideways). Then I noticed the EPK crew perched 15 feet away, and asked the shooter if he had caught the boo-boo. He played back the tape and indeed, there was a perfect shot of my near-demise. I was going to get a copy of it somehow but we didn't get around to it.

Today I was watching one of the promo clips on the NBC site and guess what appears in it--they cut just before the really "graphic" stuff!

http://www.nbc.com/R...ideo/#mea=65611

Accident is at :31 seconds from the end (it counts backwards to 0).

Personally I think I look remarkably ungainly throughout, the sideways shuffle is pretty goofy looking (remember I was caught off-guard by the actor's speed) but against my vanity, the moral of all this is worth sharing: CHECK THE TERRAIN BEFORE YOU SHOOT. We stress this at the workshops but in the heat of battle, especially in episodic TV and when a shot is being essentially improvised, it can be easy to forget. I think I would have taken note of the hoof-catcher and been ready for it, certainly I would have been operating with the rig on the other side of my body.
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#2 WillArnot

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 03:20 PM

Thanks for that reminder Charles. And thanks for having the guts to post that. Really important to check terrain, but perhaps more so to develop the mind-set to recognize the situation arising as you are being put into it.

I remember that original CP training video with Ted and Jerry. There is a great sequence on running with Ted. He particularly remarks on the importance of checking the path.

Most admirable of all... having the wisdom and selflessness to share a stumble with us. Thanks again Charles.

Will
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#3 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 03:50 PM

Charles,
I'm surprised you didn't notice that's grip's foot sticking out to trip you! You know dolly grips are always going for the glory and he just wanted to catch you and earn your praise.
Seriously though, it's lucky that guy was there, and lucky he turned and saw you, because I think you were going over that fence. You may have had a picket right in your important parts.
I want to see a split screen of the BTS footage and the shot you were doing!
In such a small area it's easy to just go ahead and do a shot without checking the ground, since it seems like: "What could happen in this 5 square foot area?" I guess you showed me what could happen. It's a good reminder of day to day safety.
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#4 Steven Acton

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 05:37 PM

I'll give you a 5.9 for style :P
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#5 mark morgan

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 07:42 PM

personally,i think you saved it and made the grip kid look good
,i'll give you a 9.5 for that stylish back arch with a slight twist before the fence and the grips head,the look on the grips face was priceless
plain and simple very nice save
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#6 Charles Papert

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 02:30 AM

I'll give credit where credit is due, the grip totally saved me just by sticking his hand up--he was a very strong guy so he managed to arrest my forward motion instantly. I was VERY grateful. If the yard had continued another few feet, I might have regained enough control to come to a stop on my feet, but that fence was just too close. Will, that's funny that you mention the EFP training tape, that was in my mind too as I wrote the initial post in this thread. The beginning of this shot did in fact make it into tonight's show, as the female cop rounded the front fender of the car.

I should have recommended you guys watch the episode tonight--Frank Darabont ("Shawshank Redemption") directed it and he had some nifty visual ideas, inspired by Altman's early 70's zooming style. We had the Optimo 15-40 on the Steadicam and were constantly building zooms into shots. After some initial attempts to use my Preston Gimbal Microforce, I found it too tricky to make subtle enough zooms while walking around (I was seeing "pumping" in the focal lengths on my footsteps) and switched to the Radio Microforce which I gave to the DP, Oliver Bokelberg, who sat at video village with the control. It was dicey at first, very strange having someone else noodling the frame size mid-Steadicam shot, but we quickly developed a telepathic communication and it became a lot of fun to see what developed from take to take, as his zooms inspired certain moves on my end and vice-versa (sort of like jazz musicians trading fours). The result was a few shots that upon watching the show tonight stuck out in my mind as being really interesting and unlike anything I've seen before on a Steadicam.

Eric Fletcher and camera assistant Robert Schierer have both told me that for the regular run of the show, the visual style eliminated all zooms and went very long lens, so subsequent episodes will have quite a different look.

I just realized that the show can be viewed in its entirety on the NBC.com site, but that little box and limited resolution make it a less than cinematic experience.
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#7 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 02:40 AM

Eric Fletcher and camera assistant Robert Schierer have both told me that for the regular run of the show, the visual style eliminated all zooms and went very long lens, so subsequent episodes will have quite a different look.


Nice stuff in the pilot Charles. It will re-air tomorrow night.

Our shows are MUCH Different in look with our show runner banning zooms and hating wide lenses, even though we did use a bunch of them! Robert did an amazing job even when Felix would have us throw the 150mm up on Steadicam. Felix also had this insane love of 300mm closeups at 12 feet.....

It is amazing how much different a pilot can look compared to the series. The pilot I'm doing now with Guy Ritchie and Alan Caso has a fantastically stylized looks (Very Guy Ritchie) and if it gets picked up I hope that they keep the look, But like your "Raines" it might be too unconventional to keep.
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#8 Charles Papert

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 09:33 AM

Re-airing the pilot in the same week? Instant re-run! TV is getting stranger and stranger. Especially with this new deal of putting up entire episodes on the web. Another show that started last night, "Andy Barker PI" (Chad Persons did the pilot, I did the subsequent 5 eps) is viewable in its entirety on the NBC site--i.e., all of the episodes that haven't even aired yet! Weird.
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#9 Matt Petrosky

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 03:18 PM

Thanks for this post Charles... it's big of you to use yourself as an example. It's should serve as a good reminder for everyone.

-Matt
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#10 Steven Acton

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 06:02 PM

Mark - that was out of a possible 6.0 :rolleyes:
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#11 Dan Coplan

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 12:35 AM

That was worth multiple viewings. I think it's more intriguing having the video cut before the save to imagine what could have been - surely a circumcision. Not that I wish anything remotely painful or gruesome for you Charles, but I did just come from "300" and I have a bit of blood thirst on the mind.

Dan
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#12 Charles Papert

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 01:42 PM

Old thread, but it popped up in Google after I was searching for something else. The original link is gone but it's viewable on Youtube, around the 1:29 mark.

As noted earlier, my form seen here is embarrassingly closer to a guy trying on the rig for the first time at a trade show than seasoned operator, but I think it's worth taking the bullet again to remind any and all of the dangers of high-speed work with the rig, especially when the terrain hasn't been spotted first. I'm thinking of that clip of the guy running and shooting sideways and fully pancaking over the curb, and the football field one that was just posted. With more and more newbies getting into the rig especially without the benefit of a workshop, there will be more injuries of this type and eventually someone is going to really jack themselves up. No need to mention names but there have been some major operators who have been forced to retire early because of injuries relating to falls (I opted to get out before that happened to me).
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#13 JamieSilverstein

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 02:55 PM

Accidents can be part of the business. HAVING said that, avoiding accidents is the way to prolong ones career and success. Walk a route without the rig a number of times, until you are comfortable with how you are going to attack it. Make sure that the route isn't invaded by an errant sandbag or stand (I nearly lost it all due to a sandbag that wandered into my path as I was backing up with Danny Glover. Luckily, as I was just about to land flat on my back, possibly fracturing my skull, breaking every bone in my body and dashing my rig into a thousand pieces, my rather large and extremely strong 2nd assistant grabbed me from the clutches of near death). Finally don't let ADs or producers force you to rush through a shot just so they can make their day. Things done properly take a little time. The time taken often results in successful shots. Cut that time short and you can potentially seriously harm yourself or others, not to mention look just plain old stupid.
Just my 2ยข.
Jamie
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#14 Kevin Andrews SOC

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 05:08 PM

Holy yikes!
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#15 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 09:26 PM

Finally don't let ADs or producers force you to rush through a shot just so they can make their day. Things done properly take a little time. The time taken often results in successful shots. Cut that time short and you can potentially seriously harm yourself or others, not to mention look just plain old stupid.

I had that point hammered home for me once when an AD was rushing a shot in which I was hardmounted on an ATV and traveling within a couple of feet of a number of mortors that the pyro department had setup. I simply needed to talk to the head pyro guy to verify that the ones on the same side of the road as me were not loaded or being set off for this shot. The AD assured me that they weren't and was trying to rush things. I held my ground only to find out that no one had told them I would be there and they were planning on blowing all of the ones I was driving by. To get an idea of the scale we are talking watch this:

~Jess
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