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operating on a boat?


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#1 Morgan Lowndes

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 06:19 AM

have been offered a shoot on a fairly large fishing boat. 35mm short drama, and fairly simple camera moves, but hard mount not possible.

its sounds like too many safety issues though... slippy unsure footing, salt water, choppy seas...
my common sense says dont get involved, and i have said this to production but they are still very very keen.

any advice? couldnt find any obvious threads about this, has anyone done this or is it a strict No no...

thanks
morgs
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#2 Alan Lifton

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 08:00 AM

You've raised all the appropriate issues. Safety is prime concern, but you might want to also consider that the saltwater spray is gonna get into your system and eventually have a detrimental effect on the rig. Even with using some sort of steadicam raincoat, the spray is pervasive. Me, personally...? I'd turn it down...
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#3 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 10:05 AM

I tried it once in Dubai. It's not impossible, however, the smaller the boat, the more impossible it becomes to get a usable shot. If you're shooting in relative calm, like within a breakwater, you may have some measure of success. But once you're out into choppy water, the shots will likely be useless AND your own safety becomes a huge issue. You're better off using something like "Perfect Horizon."

And as mentioned, do whatever you can to protect the gear from spray and wipe everything down immediately upon returning to dry land.

Oh, and sunscreen! :)
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#4 Brant S. Fagan SOC

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 10:50 AM

Boats. Just think of the possiblities...Great shots on the water, lunch at sea, death by drowning, sharks, jellyfish...The list is endless.

So should your list of concerns for working in such an environment.

Having said that, there are ways to conduct yourself and make killer Steadicam shots on the water.

First and foremost, ask all the questions you would for land-based operation.

Then, start working on everything else. How big is the vessel? Licensed captain? Deck issues and access, below deck(s) rules and safety, engineering issues, power for charging your batteries, location for dead case storage, etc.

Start thinking about being able to wear a PFD (personal floatation device) that fits UNDER your Steadicam vest. Think about an inflatable pfd for comfort reasons.

How about lifelines, spotter, AD to handle communication and cues?

How cold is the water when and where you will be working? What about survival suits?

This would be my list of starting point for investigation into how feasible and safe this operation could be. I am sure that this list will likely generate more questions and issues.

Yes, you can work on a boat. Make things safe by asking all questions before boarding. Make sure because your life depends on how you handle all the issues. No one else is really concerned about you, except the Captain and his ChEng and maybe the Bosun.

I have done some solid work aboard vessels as small as 18' but under tight restrictions. I have also come very close to going overboard from a 42' sloop on the East River in NYC because, well, no one cared about my safety enough to help. My assistant and I shared a lifeline; he started to head for the rail and the passing wake from the Staten Island Ferry almost tossed him and me overboard. I was able to use the weight of the Steadicam to counterbalance me long enough to yank him back from the rail and then stop the Steadicam from bumping me overboard. Stupid situation, stupid job and almost a stupid ending to our day.

Bottom line, if you have any doubts, don't do it. The reaction time will not be enough to allow escape from the rig before you hit the water.

Offer to join a tech scout on board the vessel. Make them pay for your time, too. If they ask, just suggest that a small accident while shooting will quickly consume their insurance aggregate. Trust me, they will know what that means!

Good luck!

Best,

Brant
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#5 Mike McGowan SOC

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 11:24 AM

Living in Miami, Florida, I get asked to work on boats all the time. I've been on everything from a 12' John boat to a super oil tanker. I've done it in all conditions from calm bay's to hurricane level, open ocean waves.

Steadicam on a boat is totally doable but you need to know a few things. How big and what type is the boat? Is it a 25' open fishing boat? Is it a 32' sport boat? 14' Zodiac? 45' cabin cruiser???????????

Next and just as important, where is the boat going to be? Open ocean means you need a bigger boat even on a 'calm' day. In the bay you can get away with a smaller boat but even the bay can be rough in the right weather.


If you can post some more specs on the boat and location I can give you my 2 cents.

mm.
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#6 Morgan Lowndes

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 12:28 PM

theyre going hand held now, because of safety issues and also disagreements over fee's.
i feel happy about this as it all sounded a way too sketchy for me!

thanks for the info anyway chaps
morgs

mike - its a 30' fishing boat off the coast of Cornwall, uk. any thoughts on this? i live in Cornwall so its only a matter of time before this situation arises again...
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#7 Rob Vuona SOC

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 02:21 PM

"The reaction time will not be enough to allow escape from the rig before you hit the water."

Morgan,
Brants quote is correct, I can attest being underwater with a rig strapped to me wasn't fun !!!
and no you guys don't get to hear about that story because I will never live it down . . . .LOL . . .

But Mike's words are correct as well, totally doable just ask all the right questions, get it all in writing and I charge 20% more for that kind of stuff.

I had alot of success while on a shoot in Hawaii on a large Catamaran below deck and on deck, but ship to ship at the end of the lens wasn't so great

Fly Safe . . . .and dry
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#8 Chris Callarman

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 03:38 PM

Brants quote is correct, I can attest being underwater with a rig strapped to me wasn't fun !!!
and no you guys don't get to hear about that story because I will never live it down . . . .LOL . . .

I just love under water stories...
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#9 Mike McGowan SOC

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 04:34 PM

theyre going hand held now, because of safety issues and also disagreements over fee's.
i feel happy about this as it all sounded a way too sketchy for me!

thanks for the info anyway chaps
morgs

mike - its a 30' fishing boat off the coast of Cornwall, uk. any thoughts on this? i live in Cornwall so its only a matter of time before this situation arises again...



Not knowing that area, I will assume that the sea can be pretty rough at times????? I would say a 30' open fishing boat is safe provided you have a dedicated grip with one hand on you at all times and the other hand on the boat. I would also be very very very very very very clear with the producer and director and AD that if you feel like it's not safe (ie, its really rough and you feel like your rig could get wet or you could easily fall) you have 100% contorl over whehter you shoot or not.

Better to say, "sorry guys, I dont think it's safe" than to ruine you rig or die. But in general, a 30' open fishing boat in the right conditions is a safe place for a steadicam.

mm.

ps, you can pretty much rule out your stand on a 30'er (you would need like 20 sand bags for it to be safe). You basically have to hold the rig or have a seat to set it on....... remember, one hand on your rig, the other on the boat all the time.
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#10 Will Eichler

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Posted 14 April 2008 - 11:35 AM

To chime in on Brant's excellent comments, I use a PFD when I shoot Tyler mount stuff for boating companies that is a CO2 inflation system. Pull the ripcord and it inflates. It stays nice and small otherwise.

It comes to mind as, though I've never put my vest over it, the best candidate I've seen for a small PFD until needed. My chopper pilot owns them so I don't have access to them for a brand name. Until deployed, they look like a pair of suspenders with a waist strap connecting them.

Best to all,

Will Eichler
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