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#1 Mike McGowan SOC

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 11:04 PM

So I recently got a call to do a fashion show. I was referred when they were asking for somebody that was good on the wheels. It was a pretty high budget, Chanel Paris, fashion show. I got hired to operate the 50' super techno crane. I was told by the producer that they wanted somebody who was really solid on the wheels as it was a key camera position and a live event and they needed everything to be perfect. I assured them I was god's gift to the wheels and they booked me.

So I show up on set for the rehearsal day. They have the HD video camera on the 50 and the crane Tec says, "you know how to use the joystick, right?? So I immediately reply, "no, never touched one before, I thought there would be wheels".

To make a long story short, I told them I could either do the wheels with an assistant to focus and zoom or they could let me stay wide and work hyper focal. They really wanted me to be able to zoom as I operated and the Tec told me he could zoom for me and have another grip swing the arm. We told the producer we'd work it out and got started setting up and finding shots.

The Tec encouraged me to give the joystick a try. We had a few hours before they were going to start rehearsing, know body was in the truck watching so I started playing with the joystick. For those of you that don't know, it's basically a little round knob the size of a quarter. You pan and tilt with your right hand and operate the focus and zoom with your left. I zoomed in all the way, had the guys fly the crane around and started trying to frame shit up.... As it turns out, the joystick is not that hard to operate if you just stop thinking about it and drive. By the time they were ready to rehearse I felt confident enough to rehearse on the stick. It went well and I ended up doing the show the next day with the stick.

I was taught from an early age that real operators use wheels. I like wheels and think I'm pretty darn good with them....... That being said (and I'm almost embarrassed to say it), I actually like the joystick better, at least for the crane. Not because I like working the focus or zoom but because I can ride the sensitivity with my left hand and actually make smoother transitions from really wide to really tight on the stick. It just feels good.

So, as it turns out, there are custom joysticks you can buy to use with various remote heads. Apparently, all the really hot shit crane operators (at least the hot shit video crane operators) use these things. Since I (as a Steadicam operator) don?t have nearly enough gear, I thought I might pick one up.


For those of you who have never used the joystick, give it a shot if you have the chance, I was surprised at how much I liked it.

For those of you that are old school joystick pros, what are your thoughts on the subject?

If anybody owns one, where do you get a custom remote head joystick?

mm.
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#2 JobScholtze

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 06:40 AM

I do my share of cranework overhere, with a techno 50 or Extreme. Its all joystick overhere. Even a microswitch joystick, operated with just one finger. Believe it or not, it work really nice. Left hand free for zoom/focus and 2 footpeddals for roll the camera. Its great to do ones in a while, instead of the hard labor
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#3 Ed Moore

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 08:11 AM

I suppose the obvious bit of kit is a Jimmy Jib, of which I own one (and Joe McNally, who's probably around here somewhere, has about eight hundred :). You can get what the manufacturer calls a 'film style' crank wheel controller, but I've never seen anyone using one. I suspect it does allow greater precision, but I find it's possible to pull off extremely accurate shots even at quite long focal lengths with the standard joysticks controller.

There's something about controlling pan, tilt, zoom, focus and swinging the jib all at the same time that gets into your brain and becomes very intuitive. Much like Steadicam, it's easy to get into that borderline-Zen state whereby the camera movement becomes an extension of your own wishes, with some unconscious bit of your brain handling the 'how'.

Edited by Ed Moore, 16 May 2008 - 08:13 AM.

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#4 Rob Vuona SOC

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 03:39 PM

Hey Mike,
welcome to the digital millenium and your first foray into the joystick world....LOL but for the record us joystick guys, well at least me, aren't so hot on the wheels so now your one up.....
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#5 JobScholtze

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 05:15 PM

here a few pics of the controls of the extreme crane i used today. ( same as the techno )

Right knob is head control, left is zoom focus. And i control the third axis with my foot. ( roll )
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#6 JobScholtze

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 05:18 PM

2 more
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#7 JobScholtze

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 05:22 PM

hmm, didnt fit in the last post. Excuse the quality, damn iphones
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#8 Mike McGowan SOC

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 06:18 PM

wow, that's pretty snazzy! so the extreme controler setup you used beggs the question, how many different types of controlers are there? and, could you just make your own custom set up and plug it in to all the existing cranes (probably not as there are too many variations of pin config).....
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#9 mark morgan

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Posted 18 May 2008 - 04:40 AM

wow, that's pretty snazzy! so the extreme controler setup you used beggs the question, how many different types of controlers are there? and, could you just make your own custom set up and plug it in to all the existing cranes (probably not as there are too many variations of pin config).....



hey mike
i'm pretty sure it depends on the manufacturer of the head
not so much the crane itself
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#10 JobScholtze

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Posted 18 May 2008 - 04:48 AM

wow, that's pretty snazzy! so the extreme controler setup you used beggs the question, how many different types of controlers are there? and, could you just make your own custom set up and plug it in to all the existing cranes (probably not as there are too many variations of pin config).....



hey mike
i'm pretty sure it depends on the manufacturer of the head
not so much the crane itself


Yep, this crane used the hothead. Techno have most of the time another head. It all depends of the rentalcompagny what the use and what there setup is. Do you want third axis or not, etc etc. But becose most rentalcompagnys have more then one crane, the also have more types of controllers to choose from. Its common here that the call you to ask what kind of controller you prefer.
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