Thread: 1st AC tips and tricks???
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08-12-2010 02:52 AM
Last edited by Alan Certeza; 08-21-2011 at 09:49 PM.
08-12-2010 03:12 AM
Last edited by Alan Certeza; 08-21-2011 at 09:50 PM.
08-12-2010 04:49 AM
- Join Date
- Jul 2008
- Newcastle - UK
I am by no means a pro-AC but from what i have picked up from being on set / research i would also include in your kit bag....
a tape measure
canned air/lens rocket
Im sure others will be able to pitch in a load more!
08-12-2010 09:00 AM
I would really suggest reading Douglas Harts AC book as quickly as you can...Not being rude, but just curious, do you have very much experience pulling focus?
Last edited by RyanT; 08-12-2010 at 09:05 AM.
08-12-2010 10:27 AM
Last edited by Alan Certeza; 08-21-2011 at 09:50 PM.
08-12-2010 10:32 AM
Here are some tips I had collected sometime ago. I dont remmeber who the initial author was but credit goes to him. The bottom part is by Sean Fairburn about working in a HD set. Hope it helps, good luck......
If you end up slating, the rule is: imagine a string running from the lens to the actor’s eyes, and place the open part of the slate along that string. Distance from the lens should be one foot for every 10mm of focal length, plus a little. That gets the slate close to full frame, which makes the editor happy. It’s important to keep the editor happy or they complain a lot. Always think about what happens to the footage after it’s shot: for example, if you’re shooting in a dark room, aim a flash light at the slate when you hit it so the editor can read it and sync it.
If the slate is close to the actor’s face then hit it lightly. Don’t scare them.
Use two hands for the slate: one on the clapper and one on the slate. The bottom part of the slate should always be still, because the editor is going to look for the frame where the clapper is no longer blurred compared to the rest of the slate and use that for sync. If both parts are moving then the editor will have a harder time syncing dailies, and you’ll hear about it.
Tail slates--slates at the end of the take instead of the beginning--require the slate to be held upside down to indicate that it’s a slate at the end of the take.
Always plan your escape route. Don’t run away after hitting the slate, but do move quickly. Hold the slate still for a half second after hitting and then get out of the shot. And update the take number quietly during the take so the slate is ready to go immediately.
The slate should ALWAYS stay with the camera. Don’t walk away with it; someone will come looking for you and the actors and director won’t be happy waiting.
Typically the sound person slates the shot so you don’t have to do anything but say “marker!” before you hit the slate. That varies from set to set, though.
The sequence is: the AD will say “Roll sound!” or “We’re rolling!” Then the camera will roll, and the camera assistant will say “Camera speed!” That’s when you slate. If you want to really impress them, hold the slate edge on to the camera until the camera has speed, and then drop it at slate it. That allows the operator/DP to see the frame past the slate right up until you hit it.
Don’t drop the slate in until the AD gets things rolling.
Always tab your tape, whether you’re pulling strips off the roll or laying marks or making labels. ALWAYS. It makes you faster, and in the camera department that’s important.
Don’t run on the set. You can run once you’re off the set, if you need to, but don’t run on the set. It makes the camera department look unprepared, and the camera department should always look cool, calm and collected. There’s an old saying: “The axe always falls nearest the camera.” Any sign of weakness in the camera crew and an insecure producer will start to worry. Worried producers make hasty decisions.
Work quickly, but don’t rush. The idea is to be so well organized that you know what’s important to have nearby when so that you can work quickly without looking like you’re working at all. A good crew doesn’t rush, but things happen quickly because the crew is always anticipating and has the right things nearby at the right times. You won’t get it immediately but it will come in time.
Watch the first and second assistants and learn. There’s a LOT to their jobs, and you’ll do well to learn their jobs both so you can do them but also so you know what they’re going through when they are working for you. It’s good to know what to expect from a good assistant, and to know when you’re working with one that’s not so strong.
A good first assistant constantly checks all kinds of things. As soon as the camera lands in a position the assistant levels it. He/she is always checking the stop, making sure the camera is set to run at the right speed, etc. There are so many ways for a camera to screw you that a good assistant obsessively checks things on it, especially before a take. The old saying for a quick check before rolling was:
FAST= Focus, Aperture, Shutter, Tachometer
Which means: check your focus marks, set the T-stop correctly, make sure the shutter is at the correct angle and the camera is running at the right speed.
A good camera assistant never gets in the way while getting focus marks. He/she will get them during/after blocking, by measuring out to the talent or their marks; and occasionally after a rehearsal, but only on a tough shot. A camera assistant will only be really obtrusive about getting marks before a take if the shot is a really tough one, and the assistant doesn’t make a habit out of stopping the set to get marks. You want to save that for when you really need it. You won’t have to do this yourself, but you should watch how it’s done.
In 35mm, lenses 50mm or longer are where focus starts getting tricky, or on any lens when the stop is wider than about T2.8. I got good enough to where I could keep anything in focus at T4, but T2 and T1.3 are really tough.
Second assistant tools: marker (for slate), pen (for camera reports), scissors (for cutting film when a mag comes off the camera; not necessary on a RED shoot), screw driver with swappable heads (for screwing and unscrewing various things over the course of the day); white/black camera cloth tape (for marks and tags); small flashlight (most useful when leveling the camera in the dark and lighting up the slate). Don’t worry about picking all this stuff up tonight, you’ll get it on the set tomorrow if you need it.
There was a legendary camera assistant by the name of Dick Barth <http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0058564/> who established the four rules of camera assisting:
(1) Show up early.
(2) Punch in on time.
(3) Do your job.
(4) Keep your mouth shut.
Number (4) doesn’t apply to asking questions of your superiors on the camera crew at appropriate times. It does mean that the wrong comment or “suggestion” at the wrong time can land you in a world of political trouble if an actor, director or producer hears it. You’re there to do a job, but not to contribute artistically. That’ll come later.
MOST IMPORTANTLY OF ALL: Always look out for your safety, and don’t put yourself in a situation where you can be hurt--or where someone you trust can’t pull you out of the way in time. Dick Barth was run over and killed as the result of a poorly designed car stunt while working on a TV series.
Here are some great tips on how to pull focus.
You've probably already heard this advice vis a vis focusing, focus marks ...
* Learn your depth of field. Know what the lenses can do. They can be your friends.
* The only focus reference that is worth anything is one that doesn't move.
* Ninety percent of the time when your focus goes soft it's because you are focused too close. In other words if the operator says you are soft, best bet is to ease the focus back.
* If you get "surprised" by an actor leaning in, such as when a person leans forward to get up from a seated position, the focus adjustment is invariable one and a half feet.
* There are definitely times now-a-days when you can pull focus off a monitor, especially long lenses wide open. Useful for tight inserts (following a pen across a page), swing/shift lens shots, snorkel/borescope shots. It doesn't work if the camera zooms and you are on a dolly or jib arm/remote head, because you will not be able to interpret the video size change as being a push in (focus change) or a zoom in (no focus change).
* Focus as seen on video (video dailies!) might look O.K. but might not be good enough HD. On the other hand, a shot that looks slightly soft with projected dailies might be perfectly adequate for video.
* There are times when the operator must pull his own focus. A human's 3D vision peters out after about 300 yards. With extremely long lenses (1,000mm) past 300 yards you cannot reliable distinguish where your target is in relationship to possible focus marks. You might if you have a very uncluttered vista. But if you have say a horsemen riding towards you among a bunch of brush it's almost impossible. btw. you have about 70' depth of field with a 1,000mm at 5.6 focused at 900'.
* You should know the distance between your out stretched finger tips, and half of that, etc. Finger tip distance is close to your heights.
* Always guess the distance before measuring it.
* I like to use a retractable metal tape measure for close in work and to have handy for measuring distance references in the set, ie. tables, linoleum squares, rugs, etc. I use a small 3/4" by 12 or 16' metal tape measure. People with larger hands don't mind using a 1" by 25."
* For very close up work, know the distance from the film plane to the end of the lens or matte box. Judge distance from the front of the lens/matte box to the subject and add the known distance back to the film plane.
* Don't clutter your lens with too many marks. You'll just confuse yourself.
* If you are doing a lot of long lens work in a set area (sports arena) draw a little diagram with distances indicated.
* Keep in mind that your focus distance is an arc around the camera, not a line perpendicular to the camera.
* Don't make too much of an issue about focus so that everyone starts to become hyper aware of it. They that count will start becoming paranoid and it becomes a big deal. But if you need time for marks, speak up. And speak up if you need another take. Cheaper to do it now then having to reshoot. Don't bug the operator by constantly asking him if focus was O.K. You'll have to learn to know whether you can trust him/her focus eyes.
* Always watch dailies from as far away as you can. Everything looks sharper from back there. :-)
* Always look at rushes and study your work when you have the opportunity.
* If you are putting marks on a studio follow focus marking wheel, put a reference mark on the lens barrel that corresponds to your closest focus mark. You'll need that to realign your follow focus with the lens focus barrel if they come adrift just before you roll.
* The length of your camera + mattebox/shade is a good traveling distance reference when working off of a remote head/crane arm.
* Before each shot, think FAST - Focus, Aperture, Shutter, Tachometer (fps).
Remember that focus carries 2/3 back from the point of focus and 1/3 in front. If you are in doubt, cheat an inch or two forward. (Of course remembering Mako's caveat about close focus).
• Pulling focus on moving shots has as much to do with music and rhythm as anything. The rehearsals are very important (when available) to find the rhythm of the shot, and once you and the operator and the actor are locked in, making the shot is much easier. When you are told to 'shoot the rehearsal' it's not a rehearsal any more.
• A good dolly grip is worth his weight in gold. (Not always an insignificant amount). He can tell you if he is an inch or two off his mark, and you can sometimes compensate. You should have your own dolly marks anyway so you should already know if he has missed. He can also totally bone you.
1) Where is the show going once done? Feature, TV, DVD, Internet, Interactive CD-ROM? This lets you know how critical everything needs to be.
2) What Frame rate will you shoot? 1080 or 720 is not an answer. 23.98Psf, 25Psf, 29.97Psf, or interlace 50i, 59.94i, 60i over pseudo 24? (They’re all 1080 on the Sony F-900, Not so in Panasonic P2 line).
3) What Aspect Ratio will you compose for? HD is 16x9 so, 16x9 (1.78), 1.85, 2.35, 4x3, or 16x9 letterboxed to 4x3.
4) What safe area will you use in the viewfinder and through Post? 90%, 95%, 92.5%, 80% or a custom size. Then roll on a chart.
5) Will you record sound on the camera as it's shot AND/OR record separately? Sync sound as it's shot vs. manually syncing sound in Post $$$ or both.
6) What timecode method will you use? Free Run TOD or Record Run? Free Run TOD is broken code, Record Run Hour# = Tape#. At Tape# 21 roll TC back to hour "1" keeping tapes in 20 tape blocks.
7) What is the route the footage will take through Post? What medium will you record to: HDCAM, D5, Hard drive?? Downconverts to DigiBeta for AVID offline then Online in HD take Locked master in for audio layback and Color Correction? Consider VFX/Animation and what medium will they receive.
8) How do you intend to move the camera? Dolly, Boom, Ped, Sticks, Gear Head, Fluid Head, SteadiCam, Hand Held, Underwater, Aerials, Crash Cam.
9) Are you shooting with Primes and Cinestyle Zooms or ENG style Lenses? Consider all accessories and setup time for both.
10) How much work do you expect to do in Color Correction? Getting as close as possible to the intended look will only help. Having at least some CC available will help in a pinch.
11) How will you monitor the HD in the field/on set? In HD and/or Downconverted and will there be Video Playback? Size and proper viewing environment must be considered. 9-inch for composition/focus only (in-red function monitors only), 24-inch for true tech look in dark. Video Village and Engineering workstation are two different places.
12) Are you going to hire a DIT or are you going to fly the plane? Extensive testing through final out is critical for a DP and everyone on the camera crew. Everyone should have a solid working knowledge of shooting HD but getting an experienced technician will help insure success. If you intend to do all the work in post (not recommended) having someone that knows what they're doing is still a good idea.
1) HD exposes like color reversal (Slide film rather than negative)
2) HD has less latitude than film I call it 4.5 Under and 1.5 Over.
3) HD has much more bottom end in the blacks than top end in the highlights, better to under expose rather than over expose.
4) You can get in essence Timed dailies in Camera which I have found gives you More range than had you done nothing to the image. "Best way to get to a good image is to start with one."
5) You can do a Digital color correction session after the picture is locked then again after it gets "Filmed out".Take every opportunity given.
6) HD is Tungsten base so ND and Color correction filters are built into the camera and are ND.6 ND1.2 ND2.4, also an 85B+81B.
7) Electronic Shutter set to ON @ 1/48th is equal to a 180° shutter. Shutter OFF increases blur in motion equal to 24 FPS @ 1/24th.
8) Like any new Film stock Test it to determine how your lighting style looks with this medium if adjustments should be made.
9) Insure your 1st AC's and operators know how to properly set the Back Focus or your images will be soft. (when applicable)
10) Shoot Record run Timecode even if you do multiple cameras. Cameras do not need to match TC for post to sync it up. It creates more problems than it's worth to shoot Free running TC.
Camera Power Distribution
AC-550 via 4 pin to HDCA-901 or Camera
Onboard AC power supply via Aspen, Anton Bauer, Sony.
Onboard SONY Lithium Ion Battery (dovetail mount) Onboard Anton Bauer Battery (3 prong mount)
Accessory Power Distribution:
Onboard monitors, Downconverters, Lens lights, DA’s, Wireless receivers & Transmitters.
Hirose 4 Pin 12v DC out of Camera.
Anton Bauer 2 prong from Camera Battery Plate.
Off board Block Battery 4 pin direct or to Mini distro box.
Stop Wide Open, if to bright shutter or ND Down.
Turn Peaking and Contrast up, Brightness Down.
Zoom in; Focus on Back Focus chart, Zoom Out wide.
Adjust BF till crispy and sharp.
Reset Stop, shutter or ND, and Viewfinder.
Record Run, TC Generator runs only while recording.
Free Run, TC Generator runs continuously.
Shift & Advance are used to set Code (Hour=Tape#) Jam syncing with Genlock, TC Out & In for Free Run.
Locket Box external TC source also works well for Free Run.
Part of the Camera dept and a necessary part of shooting in HD.
Situation will determine how many and what type. Cables go from camera to the Engineering Workstation or Tent Generally: Go Fiber Optic if Possible or SDI, YPbPr (RGB), Sound, Remote control cables. Video dept (Video Village) has their own cables that are downconverted NTSC and should come from the Engineering Workstation. Now Fiber optic reduces all to One.
Field of View
Wider than 2-1 for HD Lens FoV to 35 mm Film lens FoV equivalent or 2.35:1 on the wide focal lengths. (1.85 in 90%) Not as much on longer focal lengths, closer to 2:1
Depth of Field
Don't be deceived about having too much and taking it easy.
Build your own charts to understand each lens f-stop/Focal length characteristics. Wide angle lenses have more but the DoF drops sharply as you increase focal length.
Sound (it is now!!)
You may be responsible for plugging in Sound cables Ch 1, Ch 2 And double checking good Tone levels on LCD panel @ -20db When you record Bars at the head of every tape also lay Tone from sound. Using the denecke timecode generator Attached to Cam SB-2 Sound's Timecode may also be fed into your Ch 3 @ -30db
Onboard Monitoring in HD (ERG & Astro are good) HD SDI off the HDCA-901 or Evertz onboard downconvter.
HD Analog YPbPr off camera (will also carry Menu and VF info).
NTSC Via Downconvert.
Aspect Ratio adjustment
Decide what aspect ratio you will shoot beforehand Build yourself some safe area and shoot Frame charts to insure Post knows what you are doing.
Operator File Page <03>
Marker : ON
Center (crosshair) : ON 3
Safety Zone : ON 90%*, 80%, 92.5%, 95%
Effect : ON
Aspect Mode : Var V*, 16:9, 15:9, 14:9, 13:9, 4:3, Var H, Vista1 (1.88), Vist2 Mask : ON 50 (level of dark area shade) Var Width : 940* (for 1.85 inside of 90%)
Shutter Speed/ECS Adjustment
Toggle switch is below Lens. OFF, ON, Sel(ect) Under plastic door.
(24 & 23.98psf) OFF, 1/32nd, 1/48th*, 1/96th, 1/125th, 1/250th, 1/500th, 1/1000th, ECS (24.0 to 2200 Hz)
Syncing to Computer Monitors (ECS)
ECS Extended Clear Scan, an option in Shutter Speed.
Use rotary encoder to dial flicker out of monitor or flickering lights.
Frame rate & Format adjustment
Set cursor to NEXT and use rotary encoder to select frame rate, then ****Power down the camera to affect change.**** “HD is Really Good Video and Really Cheap Film”
60i NTSC Video equivalent (drop/nondrop still available) 59.94i NTSC Video equivalent*(drop/nondrop still available) 50i PAL Video equivalent.
30psf 30 Frame Progressive Film equivalent
29.97psf* 29.97 Frame Progressive Film equivalent 25psf 25 Frame Progressive Film equivalent 24psf 24 Frame Progressive Film equivalent
23.98psf* Downconvertable 24 Frame Progressive Film EQ*
Cueing (Reracking) the tape. “CHECKING THE GATE”
Whenever Power is broken (Battery change) or tape is taken out and put back in, it is necessary to perform a match frame edit to prevent a break in control track and Time Code.
Push RET button behind Zoom rocker on the ENG lens or Assignable Toggle on side (Adjustable via Menu) LENS RET Set Timecode switch under Advance button to REGEN* TC will pick up where it left off automatically after it replays the last 5 seconds. Can also be done from RMB-150
Onboard ND and Color Correction
ND filter wheel
1-clear glass no ND no light loss
2-1/4th or ND .6 = 2 stop light loss
(1/8th or ND .9 = 3 stop light loss) /3 version 3-1/16th or ND 1.2 = 4 stop light loss 4-1/64th or ND 1.8 = 6 stop light loss
A-4 point star filter. (Or 5600K new /3 version) B-3200K filter (clear glass cam is Tungsten Base).
C-4300K filter 85C used for mixed color temp light.
D-6300K filter 85B+81B used for Daylight & HMI’s.
Proper Eyepiece Adjustment
Set Camera to Color Bars and turn Contrast down 1/4 turn, Set Brightness till rightmost Pluge black bar is barely visible (SMPTE 16x9), or till rightmost Black bar (FULL 16x9) matches darkness of outside edge of viewfinder.
Save vs. Standby
Save-takes 7 seconds to record, Tape is off the head.
Standby-takes 1.5 seconds to record, Tape on head.* Either way you should record for 6 to 10 seconds before calling Speed, Marker, Set, ACTION. This will always insure enough Preroll to use the footage shot (like necessary leader for the editor)
(electric enhancement which increases sensitivity of camera. Every 6db=1 stop) L-Low Adjustable via Menu usually 0db* M-Med Adjustable via Menu usually +3db, or +6db* H-High Adjustable via Menu usually +9db, or +12db* Beware of adding too much unnecessary Noise with increase in Gain.
DCC Dynamic Contrast Control
(maximizes separation of highlight distinction) (A good thing when used correctly) Sets the output of camera to Color Bars or Camera.
Also turns DCC circuit ON* or OFF. AKA “Auto Knee”
(Trigger for WB and Black Balance next to shutter speed below Lens) Performs function of shooting Gray Card at head of Scene.
Preset-corresponds to CC filter preset set WB.
A-Manually adjusted WB stored in memory. (shoot white card to set) B-Additional Manually adjusted WB stored in memory. (Same) Confer with DIT as to which WB he is using in case you need to unplug for a shot.
VTR Start & Stop (all 5 ways)
On the Lens (ENG)
On the front of Camera (Under the Lens) On the RMB-150 (Upper right Button) On the Microforce On the Assignable switch (smart side bottom of camera)
Loading HD Tape Cassette
Push eject button on top of the camera under the handle.
Orange Door to the front and sprocket holes to the smart side.
Slowly press door closed.
***Always put at least 30 seconds of Color Bars and Sound tone at the head of every tape.***
Recording: Step by Step
• Attach Battery or AC Power supply.
•Power Up the Camera (ON OFF switch)
•Push the eject button to open cassette carriage door.
• Place tape in Camera. Insure record inhibit tab (lil red square) on tape cassette is flush with edge for record.
•Set Timecode to Hour 01:00:00:00
•Set Proper color correction and ND for light being used.
•Set or insure Frame rate at 23.98psf
•Set Shutter Speed to ON and Insure it is at 1/48th =180° Shutter Angle.
•Insure all necessary cables are plugged (the Engineer, Video controller, or utility person may perform the task)
•Set camera on Color Bars, (or Ask Engineer to do it from the RMB-150) ask for Tone from Sound.
•Push VTR (record) button to start recording and roll for :30 seconds.
•Push VTR button again to stop recording. Tell sound you are "Clear"
•Set camera on DCC ON, Cam ON.
Now you have a picture and are ready to hand the camera over to the Operator or DP to frame up the first shot.
I recommend visiting an HD Camera rental house and going over these things to become more familiar with
how this works before you take that first HD job. Then have fun doing what you love to do. Please feel free to
share this with 1st and 2nd AC's that might be interested.
08-12-2010 12:44 PM
Thanks Ryan but I/we have been always impressed and educated by the articles you wrote on many subjects. Keep them coming, we will keep reading.
08-13-2010 11:07 AM
Last edited by Alan Certeza; 08-21-2011 at 09:50 PM.
08-15-2010 08:11 AM
- Always stay with the camera.
- Set up your lenses/batteries, accessories in safe place but also easy to quickly get access to.
- When the DP is talking to director about new set-up pay attention, then when they figureout move the camera to chose spot.
- When camera is moved - level the camera.
- When camera is moved or lens changed adjust the mount so the camera doesn't become front/back heavy.
- Keep lenses clean. But don't clean those right before putting it on camera as your DP and director want to see the frame first. Do it when there is some down town.
- On low budgeters ask for camera intern so he can become your 2nd and help you when you get marks.