Every week on Sunday readers and commentors of this site will be featured in a post called “Comment Corner,” where I will scour and find the most insightful and useful thoughts posted throughout The Black and Blue community. That, of course, means comments you post on this blog, but also discussions and comments that are found on Twitter and The Black and Blue Facebook page.
Why This is Important
The readers of this blog range from camera assistants to directors of photography to first assistant directors. Those within the filmmaking community, no matter what job they do, benefit the most from others residing within it because at its heart, film is a collaborative artform.
As the readership has grown on The Black and Blue, the comments have become more in-depth, more knowledgeable and I have learned a lot from them. I think you can too.
Some of you have left really great comments with wonderful ideas and suggestions. I don’t want these to go unnoticed by anybody.
You have a lot to teach not only me, but others who read this site.
The Fine Print
Yes, there will be loose rules and they’ll be as follows:
- The week starts Monday and ends Sunday when “Comment Corner” will be published
- Only discussions or thoughts originating within The Black and Blue community will be considered.
- If your comment name has a link to a website, blog, or Twitter, I will link to it, but otherwise I will simply use the name posted.
- If the comment is really long, I will edit down to the part that attracted me to choosing it in the first place
These, of course, are not firm and I will likely morph them as this idea fleshes itself out, but I wanted you to know the ground rules upfront.
Also, please be aware of the comment policy of this blog which is basically a paragraph telling you not to spam me, attack me, or be rude in general.
The Inaugural Comments
Each week I will aim to highlight five comments, but since this is the first week and I have a whole backlog to deal with, here’s a list of 10 (in no particular order):
1. From a Twitter discussion between myself and others on Cameras as tools
@nathanrodger: Hear, hear! Innovation of the tools is important; but story is the soul. Without it, tools are just toys. You can be technical, without any creativity. Remove the tool-talk, then what would all these people talk about?
2. Adam Richlin on 3 Simple Ways to Become a Better Focus Puller Over the Weekend
An older DP friend taught me to use the top of the focus disk and remember “Come together, wander apart” (A simpler phrasing for your “go forward to come forward” neumonic). That stuck with me.
The other thing to do is use a speed crank on your focus wheel, and point it down. Pull the ball toward you if the character is coming toward you, push away if they are going away. (newbies learn this concept much quicker, and then you slowly gear them up to using the top of the wheel in reverse)
3. Chris on Why iWouldn’t Use an iPad Slate
As for the battery issue, there are a few companies that make battery packs that can output their power via USB. I’ve used one by Black & Decker before. Slap some velcro on the back of your iPad and on the battery, and you could have a hot-swapable batteries lined up for days.
Now I just offer that as a creative solution to a problem… Who really wants another batch of batteries to worry about on set, or another piece of technology just waiting to die on you?
Some sets are not all that technology friendly… shooting all day in hot desert sun, in damp or cold environments… you could run into all kinds of issues.
Granted, it would be nice to have an wall-weather iPad shock case with sticks and a sensor wired in so you don’t have to touch the screen to trigger it. (The iPad and iPhone data port do support all kinds of 2 way data) But really that is just the tech geek in me speaking.
Then all you need is a car battery, 300w amp, and a speaker on your back. Add a set of roller skates so you can move around set quickly. I don’t see what could possibly go wrong.
It’s good to see top-notch cinematographers embracing new technologies as TOOLS for a specific use, rather than their “coolness” factor. I really liked TSN, but I guess I would’ve liked it anyway even if it had been shot on film.
from ICG magazine:
“Cronenweth – who cut his feature filmmaking teeth on celluloid – has a more cautiously pragmatic view about the rapid march toward digital. “I think both film and HD are great,” he concludes. “They’re both tools that are separated by what kind of story we want to tell. I do have an application preference, however, and you don’t cut paper with a hammer and don’t hammer nails with scissors.”
5. Tobin Neis (Director of Marketing for Barbizon Lighting) on Expendables Shootout! A Three-Way Battle for Cheap Expendables
Local shops and equipment suppliers, like Barbizon, often have to charge more for their expendables because they don’t order in bulk like a FilmTools does. It’s the whole economics of scale thing going on. We understand that your expendables order was fairly modest but remember that Film Tools & Recycler are 5-7 days away, ground shipping from the East Coase & it is an additional expense. Even more if it needs to be shipped overnight.
The reality is that Barbizon is the main supplier to major films and television productions shot mainly east of the Mississippi and that we have a greater supply of film expendables than anyone in our geography.
In New York we have a constant stream of runners coming in for last minute supplies that are always kept in stock. Last-minute production demands is Barbizon’s daily order of business; and we are the go-to place to get all the production supplies you need in one place.
6. Aftercrash on Quick Tip: Slating in Frame Every Time
Another tip is to look into the lens for your reflection if you are wearing some sort of diffusion like a Black Pro Mist or even an ND. Make sure you do this BEFORE they start rolling so you’re not in the shot.
…instead of those erasers that fit to the top of your pen, i prefer a powder makeup applier, you can get them at any drug store for cheap, simple gaff tape to the top of your marker. even when they’re completely black they clean much much better/faster.
…something like this. obviously this is from macy’s and an uber expensive version. i grabbed some randoms from a walgreens that cost me maybe 2 bucks for three? wrapped around and ta-da. works great, i’m in the slow season so not a ton of work right now, but i’ve yet to kill off my first pad. i think i may even try washing it out.
8. Adam Richlin on Quick Tip: Using a Sharpie on a Slate and Erasing It
…Tape a backup thin-body dry erase marker to the back of the slate for emergencies (lost your other one, it died and you’re on a mountain, etc). On a Denecke Timecode Slate, this is best attached vertically to the metal box on the back. On a standard dumb slate, drill a 2/3″ hole down the end of the clapper arm (7″ deep) and hide it inside with a small cork or piece of gaff covering the hole.
9. Mathew Medeiros on Toolkit DIY: Homemade Hoodman
A material I use all the time is black corrugated plastic. It’s much stronger, weather-resistant, and will last for years if its cared for. It’s harder to find, though I found some at my local office supplies shop.
10. Kellee on Helpful Advice for Working on a Film Set
Great list–agree 100%. #2 is sooo very important. Excuses just make you look childish, immature and unprofessional. Under be polite I would add to really watch your mouth when you vent about the silly little things that frustrate you on set–you never know who’s behind you, or who’s friends of friends of who you are bitching about. Awkward! Also, being polite to bogies/lookie loo’s (the public) is important, but try not to get sucked into long convos with them unless you’re the PA locking them up and then by all means turn on the charm so the time they are being hassled by waiting quickly passes. On the last tip, I would emphasize having a sense of urgency and anticipating needs are very important. Be aware of what is happening. And I must add, don’t be That Guy who’s head is constantly down looking at their phone texting/facebooking on set when work needs to be done, or chatting up that hot PA or extra when we’re over here lugging gear.
Join the discussion
Want to be heard on comment corner? You can start by commenting on this post or anywhere on the blog in the next week. You can also follow me on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook to get your voice heard. I want to hear your thoughts and your opinions!