Tuesday, April 25, 2006

don't breathe too deep, dive in to work

i'm not sure what a 'normal' day is for a camera assistant, but it would be nice if today were such.

if days like this were average and i worked so 3-4 days a week, man, i'd be the pride of the peaches.

i was up late last night cleaning the bathroom [success] and rebuilding a new diddy bag [partial success], and so spent longer in my comfy bed listening to the 101.9 morning show and so left later than planned and so got to cosmic later than planned.
no worries, whenever.

i spent the morning getting acquainted with the equipment, learning what all they have, how it al fits together, and where it all goes, as well as how the camera works. once you learn one camera, you can pick another without too much work, but each one has its nuances.

when i knew the basic ins and outs of the operation, i set to work on prepping for the shots this afternoon. rich loaned me his ipod to keep me happy-- i have gotten to the point where i can now do all the dark work on an aaton-III mag in roughly the same time as the final chorus on 'sheep go to heaven'; doing an entire mag, from air canning it out to taping and labeling takes roughly one 'like a prayer'.

i was given some petty cash for lunch and left to find a cool place in salt lake-- normally it seems there is an abundance of character-filled establishments, but i spent 20 minutes seeing nothing but wendy's and taco bell. then i found 'curry in a hurry' and an open parking meter out front. stellar, until i noticed that all but 17 cents of the change in my car had been used to buy a sundae a month ago. they promise curry in a hurry, so maybe i could get it done in 17 cents' time. i shoved my dime and nickel into the slot and saw that there was 30 minutes already there by some lovely grace.
the lamb curry combo was absolutely wonderful; more of a middle east variety, rather than a southeast asian style--like baba's used to make.

for the record, i think my 15 cents bought me 7 minutes.

i went over in my head several times all that i thought i would need for the shoot.
and i noticed a bit of a paradox in the general situation: i was brought on as a green 1st a.c. because this was a small shoot--just a few shots. yet we had roughly the same amount of equipment as we did last week and i didn't have an official assistant. so i was doing all the work of a 1st a.c. plus whatever jeff the talented 2nd a.c. usually does; and since we didn't have a gaffer, i was carrying the light meter and keeping track of how the sun changed over the afternoon.
light-ish work, yes. but two and a half jobs of light-ish work.

to be fair, our grip really hadn't much to do at all, and so helped out at a 2nd when needed, which was much appreciated. he pointed out that a grip's job really is 'camera support.'

so how did i do?

well, i think i did fine.
and i thinkt they think i did a good job.
[they don't know how many times i was thinking, 'i didn't bring a backup of ______, so if these don't last, that's gonna rot']

but we really won't know until we see if the footage is in focus.

and that's somewhat of a wild card.

we get out there for our first shot, in front of the wellsfargo building, and eager greenie jeff is laying out all of the cases, ready for anything.

'let's throw on the 200mm.'

trial by fire, i guess.

so we're shooting a guy coming out of the building coming at us from roughly 25' down to 12' with an f4.
now, for those of you who weren't in my 285 lectures, the skinny is that this means i have roughly a 1' plane in space that is in focus, and the rest is not. and it's my job to turn the focus on the lens as this dude is briskly walking toward me and keep him in that focused plane all the while.

one of my 1st a.c. skills that i need to practice is getting focus marks of where the talent is during the take while everone is rehearsing and planning without getting in the way.
that greg rehearses minimally and likes to shoot and go leaves me hoping there is enough of a moment of focus that he can use it in the commercial.

i'm nervous, but i think we've got something usable.

the rest of the shots weren't that bad--100mm and 50mm aren't so bad after that.
and later on, when we had a 16mm on at an f8/11, well, that meant everwhere from 1'9" to infinity was in focus.

we had an adventure with our actor getting on the train as it pulled up so that we could get shots of him getting off, only to have the door close finally on him and watch him get whisked off to the next stop.
this happened about five times.

at the end of the day, greg shook my hand and said it was great working with me.
by the end, i kind of knew what he wanted and how he worked, and it was kind of fun.
i wish i hadn't forgotten all the little things that i did [our last shot was a stop underexposed because i forgot to check the light even as we had waited there for 10 minutes...] and i'm praying that the focus will not be unacceptably horrendous, but all in all it was the best 12-hour day i've had in a while.

it's fun to try something new anyway.

final word: oingo boingo's 'not my slave' is my favorite song of the moment. i wish i could share it with all of you.

1 comment:

Em said...

I'm glad you had a good day of work, sometimes I think God gives those to us to keep us sane-ish. But he never seems to give us more of them than we absolutely need.