Steadicam Reel online at DVinfo.net

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Old March 12th, 2004, 04:00 PM   #1
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Steadicam Reel online

Hi gang:

I've been waiting to put my reels up online for a few years, until the compression and technology was in place to assure that the movement was smooth enough to complement the Steadicam shots, without a lot of streaming delay.

Well, I've finally gone and done it; signed up with the Demo Reel Network. Thought you guys might be interested in seeing the stuff (my DP reel is up there also).

Here are the reels.
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Old March 12th, 2004, 04:09 PM   #2
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That is freakin' awesome! Totally fluid, liquid camera movement.
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Old March 12th, 2004, 04:11 PM   #3
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Must be all that beer I drink.

Thanks Dan!
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Old March 12th, 2004, 06:05 PM   #4
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Great stuff!! And very inspiring....

Charles--you must be one athletic son of gun--that last shot around and around the SCRUBS guy...whoa--I'm tired just thinking about the weight of the rig and you doing that dance.

The one shot that really impressed me is the West Wing shot...(the President in bed with his wife)

It was so subtle and smooth---one wouldn't normally notice or associate it as a steadicam shot, and that is the point I guess.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old March 12th, 2004, 09:26 PM   #5
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Thank you John. Good eye! The West Wing shot is one of my favorites also. It's a very demanding style of shooting, when the camera is slowly moving and the actors aren't (or are distant in the frame). A critical viewer can become very aware of the architecture and converging lines, and imperfections in the operating are magnified. A similar shot that I like also came earlier in the reel, during the "Crazy/Beautiful" segment with Kirsten Dunst past the dining room table in the glass house.

These types of shots are not as showy or legendary as something like the "Goodfellas" Copa sequence or the opening to "Boogie Nights" (and many kudos to my associates Larry McConkey and Andy Shuttleworth for their great work on those), but imitating a slow-moving dolly shot is it's own sort of "epic" challenge.

That Scrubs shot at the end of the reel, that was fun. The director originally wanted to just pull Zach down the hall (i.e. precede him) but since we had done so many of those in previous episodes, I suggested the roundy-round. It took some co-ordinating between myself and Zach to get him to shift his position in the narrow hallway to counter the camera without it being too noticeable. I think I was a little red-faced by the end!

Toughest shot on the reel, operating-wise: the one that pulls Edward Norton down the stairs in the "American History X" segment. Particularly heavy camera, low ceilings, and stairs always suck, especially at that speed!
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Old March 13th, 2004, 03:47 AM   #6
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beautiful!

you have truly made it my friend!

you inspire all of us lowly shooters in the midwest doing coroprate video for small peanuts.

(you also piss us off b/c we wish we were you.)

thanks for sharing! :)
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Old March 13th, 2004, 04:11 AM   #7
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I'll say it again, you are the man Charles P.
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Old March 13th, 2004, 08:11 AM   #8
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Matthew:

Thanks, and if it helps: I too was a "small peanuts" corporate shooter in Boston until about 8 years ago. Every day it seemed was another corporate mucky-muck interview lit with venetian blind patterns in the background, plus B-roll of guy at computer or two nodding guys standing around with file folders (or the same guys walking down a hallway with me following them with the rig). Wasn't a bad living or lifestyle but I wanted to work in the movies something fierce, so I packed it in and moved to L.A.

The interesting thing is that now having done that, I find I again want to MAKE movies just like I did at 17 (before getting distracted by that shiny floating contraption with all the springs and knobs). And the cool thing now is that you don't have to live in Hollywood to do it. This forum is more than proof that anyone, anywhere can easily access all the tools and techniques to realize their dreams.

I am equally inspired by all of you; those who are making films and putting them on the web, experimenting and learning and sharing the results. It's an exciting time.
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Old March 13th, 2004, 10:21 AM   #9
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Hey Charles, that was awesome man... I've always liked the stair shot in American history X beautifully done, maybe someday I'll manage stairs with rig without falling on my ass :-), everything on that reel was just amazing. It's something to aspire to for amateurs like me :-) I think I'll watch that from time to time to remind me how it should be done :-)

Kudos.

John.
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Old March 13th, 2004, 10:24 AM   #10
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Whoa Charles, or shall I call you sir! I can't believe that some of my favorite movies, shows and actors had scenes shot by a fellow member here at DVINFO.net! American History X is just way up there for me and I was thinking the same thing about getting down those stairs and into a corner to shoot Norton and Furlong. That's a tough setup. Office space I love, Scrubs, well a lot of them I own on DVD and just love. Thanks so much for your constant contribution to this site, it really is an amazing board. You shot most of the steadicam shots on a Glidecam 2000 right? Only kidding ;) - your pro steadicam is obviously a marvel of an instrument.
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Old March 13th, 2004, 11:39 AM   #11
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Thx, John and Bryant.

<<your pro steadicam is obviously a marvel of an instrument.>>

It is that for sure. Although a few things on the reel survive from the pre-Pro days...American History X, for one, was just prior to the PRO purchase so I was using my old Model 3 and also testing out a Master Series Elite for some scenes.

The scene on the stairs still gives me nightmares. It started pushing in Norton as he came out the door, then I turned right and panned the rig left as I started barrelling down the stairs (ending up in the "Don Juan" position, where the camera is looking behind you), trying to keep an eye on Ed to adjust headroom as he broke the first stair. Then I had to squeeze under a bizarrely low header as I turned the corner and stopped on a dime when Norton stopped, then accepted Furlong into the frame. As Norton starts up, I took the last couple of steps and blindly panned the rig with him as I turned my body back around into standard/"missionary" position (hence the only part of the shot that bothers me; the headroom gets a little excessive since he ducked on this particular take and I didn't see until it was too late).

Number of takes, including lens changes (tighter versions): probably 25-30.

Weight of rig: Steadicam 3A with Arri BL3, Zeiss prime: approximately 75 lbs.

Rank of difficulty, entire career: #1

Ugh!
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Old March 13th, 2004, 01:12 PM   #12
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Wow man! What an awesome insight into a fascinating field of work. Thanks so much for sharing...can I tell people I "know" you? hehe. I really enjoyed watching your reels, and all the info on the shots. Thanks.
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Old March 17th, 2004, 05:31 AM   #13
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Very nice demo, Charles!
The scene on the stairs looks very complicated, indeed. But very well executed! This makes me wonder: we can see in "making off"'s and the like how the director asks for another take because the interpretation is not really what he/she has in mind. But is there the posibility of a "let's do it again, I didn't shoot it right!"? I know I did about 15 takes on a comercial scene so I could shoot it right. But we where just three peoples and the "actrees". How do you go in a 20 - 30 people team? I wonder what the steadicam opp in "Russian ark" could have said to hundreds of people if he would trip in the last 5 minutes of the one take movie...
Very nice work Charles. Thank you for sharing with us!
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Old March 17th, 2004, 12:20 PM   #14
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That's a complicated one, Cosmin.

I have successfully lobbied for "just one more" under certain circumstances. Part of the "politicking" of being a Steadicam operator is knowing what to say when. Sometimes you really want another, but when the director asks you how it was you just have to say "great!" and let them move on, or it will reflect against you. Other times you can make a pitch for why it would be worth it for them to let you have another. It's usually more successful if the issues in a given take have to do with timing that was outside your control, such as an actor missing a mark or mis-timing a move, or an extra doing something wrong. Not that it's about blame, but if the director can see what could be improved and decides it is worth it to go again, you are all set. I've definitely had moments of wanting another and hoping that there will be another because of performance reasons (and many more where I hope this doesn't happen!)

Most interesting of all; it is possible to "ruin" a take by hitting the rig against your leg or something, forcing a "go-again". Does anyone remember the 1st season of "Project Greenlight", where the DP didn't like his opening pan and busted the take? He wasn't smart enough to pretend it was a mistake and everyone got pissed about it, but that sort of thing happens all the time. I personally don't like having the actors have to run through an entire take if the beginning has a problem that I know the director will be unhappy with in the edit, so I will, under the right circumstances, bust the take. Usually this isn't because of a problem I had, more likely the timing just isn't working or there is a shadow across the actor or something, but there are those moments where it just might be due to something I did or didn't do. Picking those moments is very tricky though. When the heat is on due to the sun setting, or an actor having a hard time with a scene, you don't do it then.

Politics is as much a part of being successful in this industry as one's skill. And it takes at least as long if not longer to learn!
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Old March 17th, 2004, 02:37 PM   #15
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Gorgeous. Out of curiosity, what were the legal issues involved in your being able to use the footage on your web site? It's certainly great advertising for the various productions, as well, but wasn't it complicated to get everyone to agree to your use of footage shot specifically for their productions?
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