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Old July 12th, 2004, 07:40 PM   #16
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 6,750
Good assessment Brad, those are all things I noticed as well.

It can be very elusive to try to boil down all the little things that different operators put into a shot that elevate it above the pedestrian level. The degree of nuance can be amazing. Whatever I might have learned in my years of operating Steadicam is a scratch in the surface compared to the degree of thought that a Larry McConkey puts into it, for instance.

Here are some notes, some more about nuance than others; hope this helps.

Overall, I feel like the lens was a little on the wide side. It might have been a bit more interesting if you had zoomed in a bit.

Opening frame: The car is dead center top to bottom. Perhaps a more interesting composition would have been tilted up slightly, showing more greenery and less concrete. There may have been a nice transition to the move if you had started looking up into the trees, then tilt down as the car enters the frame. It's important when doing that sort of thing to keep the move flowing, don't come to a stop on the tilt and then restart the move as the car turns into the driveaway. Speaking of which, it would be ideal not to have to make that little pan left and then right with the car. This means either starting your opening frame more to the left, or (more interesting) be on the move from the beginning. If the latter, perhaps if you were pushing in from down the sidewalk; if you time it right, you keep a constant speed as the car passes and continue right around the back. I believe I did just that on the shot that "inspired" this move.

You already noted the centering and the headroom on the car. That kind of control will indeed come with practice. Don't forget your booming (ped) capability; it's more interesting to drive in to the car door from window height than to look down at it.

Framing also an issue as your son gets out of the car. Knowing that while performing this action, people are forced to shift to the rear to clear the door and adjusting for that is just one of those 8 million spatial/physical things that becomes automatic with experience.

You did a pretty nice job with headroom on the stairs, that's always a killer. Stairs are another spot where using your boom capability to quickly adjust for headroom is a great weapon.

The hold at the end is a bit abrupt--you might want to gently glide to a stop rather than park it as you did. It will actually be easier to control the rig if you do this. Hard stops with Steadicam mean a lot of forces conspiring to throw the rig off level in roll or tilt.

Here's a variation on this shot that might be interesting: when coming around the side of the car, instead of stopping, keep going and pivot on the door as your son emerges. Then you can precede him around the front of the car, and you can keep backing up around the other side as he heads to the stairs, hinging him as he passes you. You quickly reverse direction and follow him up the stairs. This is a really dynamic shot, and what's nice is that you get to see his face a bit more, as well as keep it moving all the way through the business of his exit. This is a bit tough to pull off in a production environment because it sees 360 degrees, but not out of the question if you plan for it. While you are at it, practice doing the same thing without doing the hinge at the end and keep preceding him up the stairs. You may either do this by backing up (use a spotter!) or shooting in Don Juan, walking forward and shooting with the camera facing the rear. Either way, it's a toughie, especially with those irregular spaced steps--but a great practice exercise!
Charles Papert
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Old July 13th, 2004, 07:20 PM   #17
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Overland Park, KS
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Great suggestions Charles! I was visualizing the shot as I read. I especially like coming around him as he exits the car, then executing the hinge move. I think it would have a great dynamic feel, and as you said, would show more of his face.

When I get the chance I'm going to do it again, and try some of your moves. I'll post it once I get something that is worth looking at.

I also thought it interesting that you noticed the uneven steps. It's no mean feat for me to fly up them forward...backward (with a spotter of course) would be a real challenge.

Thanks for the support and the tips. I really appreciate all of your help and suggestions.
Brad Richmond
Doubledogs Video
Overland Park, KS
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Old July 13th, 2004, 07:35 PM   #18
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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I always get a cold feeling in the pit of the stomach when I have to do a preceding stairs shot. Uneven steps are the worst in terms of maintaining consistent headroom--you and the subject are constant changing heights relative to each other.
Charles Papert
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