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Old November 29th, 2007, 07:13 PM   #1
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Taping a Surgery

My ex works with a Heart Surgeon and the other day he rented my FX1 to record one of his surgeries. He's making a library on the net for Doctors all over the world that wants to see his work. Everything went good the person that he had filmed it said it worked great and the Doc loved it so last night I get a call and it's the doctor and he wants me to start filming the open Heart surgeries. And he said I could probley pick up allot of work from the other Doctors. At this point I'm not sure if I'm able to do this but it's such and opportunity and don't want to pass it up. The question I have is the tripod I have is way to big when you open it up so the guy that filmed it had to close it up and hold it the whole time. I can't see my back lasting doing this. The camera is right next to the surgeon and it has to be high so I'm wondering does anyone have any sugestions on what I can buy to help me with this. I guess they hired this production company and they used a boom he was telling me. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Sorry for such a long post.

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Old November 29th, 2007, 07:59 PM   #2
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Hi Chad...........

My first instinct was to suggest you invest in a boom/ crane/ jib of some sort. However, a bit more thought about the realities of that, what with a tripod/ stand, boom arm out front and weight arm out back, gave me pause.

I suppose some more info would be usefull.

Will you be shooting in just one or two theatres or all over the shop?

How much spare floor real estate is there around the table with surgeon(s) and theatre staff, equipment etc?

If the answer to the latter question is "not much", it may be better to get some sort of rigid pole fixing on the ceiling and suspend an underslung remote control pan tilt head from that. Keeps you well out of everyone's way and no danger of braining staff by accident, which would be pretty easy with the bulk of a jib/ boom.

With a decent Lanc control camera, the pan/ tilt remote and a tv screen you could even do the necessary from the other end of the hospital!

If you wanted to get really carried away, you could suspend a horizontal cross bar from a central motorized pole (similar to an aerial rotator but upside down) and have a remote pan/ tilt unit on either end of that horiontal bar - that would allow you to simultaneously shoot two versions/ angles at once AND change the angles at will to get straight above/ side angled/ end angled shots at will.

Of course, bit of a bugger carting that lot from theatre to theatre, not to mention the holes left behind from the fixings/ cables etc.

Another option could be to go for a much smaller type of camera (like a video surveillance but better resolution) and fit 4 or 6 around the table either on stands (mic stands with counterweight arms?) or attached to existing equipment, so that they're out of everybody's way and take the feeds to a surveillance camera switcher and punch the selected camera through to you digital camcorder for recording.

I'm sure you'll get heaps more suggestions.

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Old November 29th, 2007, 08:19 PM   #3
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Chad, I shoot surgeries all the time. I use a tripod 99% of the time. I rarely go handheld. I usually get on the opposite side of the doc or at the corner of the Operating table. I put the tripod up as high as it will go so I can shoot down on the area that is being operated on. I put a wireless Mic on the doc so he can explain the procedure as he's doing it.

Honestly, that's about it, shooting surgeries is failry simple, as long as you can stand shooting surgeries.

The blood doesn't bother me it's the smell of the incisions when they have to burn away tissue.
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Old November 29th, 2007, 08:39 PM   #4
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I know you didn't ask, but since I used to represent hospitals as an attorney I'd offer this bit of informal advice: Make sure you have written permission for everything, filming the patient, the staff and filming in the hospital. Many facilities are rightfully wary of this activity--and you should be too-because the footage is potential evidence if anything should go wrong. I've had at least one client torpedo his own defense with video footage of him involved in a mishap. He too was filming for educational purposes. I work for a hospital now in another capacity and only our hospital photog is allowed to film for this very reason.

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Old November 29th, 2007, 09:56 PM   #5
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Surgeries often last for several hours so keep that in mind.

You can try supporting the camera on a monopod. That would take up less floor space. Maybe attach a small remote monitor so that you're not straining to look up at the LCD display all the time.

Remote controlled cameras would be a great option. Have them feed separate decks. There are a lot of radio-controllable pan/tilt systems available. Here's one company that has several listed:

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Old November 29th, 2007, 11:08 PM   #6
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Thank's all for the replies it's much appreciated. The person that used my camera said there is not much room to work but holding the tripod worked good for him. I just don't know if I can stand there the whole time. I guess the guy they used before had a boom or something like that. I'm ok with blood but smelling it is a different story when watching the footage from the other day I notice him doing that and wondered about it. AS for written permission I guess I can ask the Doctor since he's the one that want's this done. What he's trying to do is this he has a procedure
he does on the heart It's his own and what he's doing he want's to show this at seminars and then put it on the net for other doctors can see. Thats all I really know. I know he films with a camera on his head but it's not good quality at all. They payed me 250.00 to use my Sony FX1 they had it for 24 hours and only ran 2 tapes through it is that a good price? I would rather them rent it when they need it and leave me out of it that would be nice lol . But again I like a challange. Thank's again for all the sugestion's it's much appreciated.

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Old November 30th, 2007, 01:42 AM   #7
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The last surgery I attended went by really fast and I hardly noticed the 6 hours that elapsed.

But then I was the guy on the table! :-)

If the doctor is also wearing a camera on his head, then make use of that video. Intercut with other shots of the operating field and the team at work. Use the doctor's POV camera for specific CU shots of the procedure.

The surgeon that did my operation said that he should have had it videotaped.
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Old November 30th, 2007, 03:13 AM   #8
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I have taped my daughter's birth some time ago (cesarean) and I only used handheld camera as using a tripod was not practical because the surgeon and nurses changed position so often. It also helped me to get really some good shots. Mind you my wife refuses to see the tape as she can't stand the blood. It will be a present for my daughter though.

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