Do you remember participating in “show and tell” in grade school? You got to bring something — anything — into class and give a little speech about it. Maybe you were nervous or maybe you couldn’t wait for the attention, but either way, it was a fun day in the classroom.
At The Black and Blue, there’s been a little bit of show and tell going on already. Yesterday, there was a bit of showing off of production stills and photos. Now it’s time for “tell” with the best comments of the week.
This Week’s Comments
Here are this week’s best comments in no particular order.
At our rental company we’re using the DENZ Flange Focal Controller to check our Digital Cinema Camera’s, since it’s the most accurate way to check the flange focal distance and having an indication how to schimm a camera. So far we never had to schimm any of our Alexa’s or our Phantom HD Gold, but especially when people used heavy zoomlenses or periscope systems we like to check the camera(‘s) after a shoot. Lens mounts don’t like the heavy stuff, so make sure you support and mount a heavy lens (with two persons) in a proper way.
Standard checks for an AC on film are Steadiness, Harp and Lens. During these tests any focus issues will be reported once the footage has been processed and they’ve reviewed the tests in telecine. (the funny thing is, on commercials, we sometimes only get the results the next morning, halfway through a roll of film on day one.)
During lens tests I test focus (and if the lenses line up correctly and are collimated), infinity on zooms (few people do this, and you should! take it off the plinth and check it outside!) and shoot the standard lens charts with focus ratings. These charts rate on a scale from something like 1-6/7 or A-F/G. When testing zooms I’ll shoot wide, tight and zoom movements for the test. Any back-focus, focus, camera movement, lens calibration issues will surface in the test.
There are marked differences in assisting/pulling focus & working with digital/video vs. film. There are many similarities, however, there are 2 very different skill sets and experiences required to work with each. We need to know all of it.
Speaking of Harrison Ford, I have a Harrison Ford story I’m sure you will all enjoy:
I was the 1st AC on “Presumed Innocent,” starring Harrison Ford, back in the late 1980’s. This was my last feature (of 10 I did) for Gordon Willis ASC. The story takes place in Detroit, so we started the shoot in Detroit, for about the first two weeks, before moving back to New York for the remainder of the 3-month shoot.
Our first day of shooting started on the roof of an apartment building in Detroit, a six-floor walkup building (no elevator). My 2AC and a Camera PA (no Loader on this job) and I unloaded what we needed from the Camera truck in front of the building, and were dreading the six flights of stairs to get to the location (Damn that Location Scout!!).
A station wagon driven by one of our Teamsters pulls up to the front of the building, and Harrison Ford, who I had not met yet, gets out. No one is there from Production to meet him, so he walks up to me, and introduces himself to me. “Hi. I’m Harrison Ford. Call me Harrison. You must be the Focus Puller,” and shakes my hand. I guess the roll of white tape on my belt was his clue.
I replied in the affirmative, and introduced myself and the rest of the Camera Crew.
Harrison says, “We’re shooting on the roof, right?”
I say, “Yes, I’m afraid so.”
He says, “Well, give me something to carry.”
Flabbergasted, I replied, “Excuse me?”
He says, :”Well, I gotta go up anyway, and you’ve got a lot of crap to bring upstairs. Give me something to carry.”
I said, “Pardon my astonishment, but no actor has EVER offered to do that before. Are you kidding?”
He laughed, and said, “No, I’m serious.”
I looked around, and said, “Well, how about that battery and that magazine case?” pointing them out to him.
Harrison said, “Perfect. See you upstairs.” Then he picks up the Panavision 24 Volt battery and 1000 ft. Magazine case, and heads into the building, and up six flights of stairs.
“Thanks a lot,” I yell after him.
“You’re welcome,” he yells back.
Of course, Harrison only made one trip with equipment, while the ACs and I made about six trips, but it was still impressive, that he asked to help, and then actually did.
After the morning’s shoot, we were going to wrap the rooftop location, break for lunch, then do a “Company Move.”
After the last “Cut” on the roof, Harrison comes right up to me, and asks, “Where’s my Magazine and Battery? I’m headed down now.”
I gave him the cases, and he cheerfully headed down to the Camera Truck, where he left the cases on the tailgate.
So when I say that Harrison Ford is my favorite actor, I’m not only talking about his acting skill.
Plus, he remembered our names, which very few big stars take the trouble to do.
On my first film set working as a PA, we were shooting in a carpark in London and during the early evening, while walking down one of the stairwells, I found (and had to remove) a hooker and her client. For the rest of the shoot I’d get “Hey can you get me 2 C-Stands, the big lamp and a 34c brunette” !!
The good thing was everyone knew who I was and got me work after the shoot.
5. Rafael Farinas on Quick Way to Quit Fumbling with Your Hex Keys
When you have a screw in new equipment that you are not used to, just check where the equipment was build or made to discover if the screw is in Metric or Imperial System. For American and British equipment go to Inches Allen set of keys. For German or French and others, go to the centimeters Allen set of keys.
Thank you to all of you who comment on the site and have done so in the past. Keep them coming — I love reading what you have to say.