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The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
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Old June 6th, 2003, 08:48 AM   #1
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scrubs charles etc.

I'm a bit out of loss for words. Saw my very first episode of
Scrubs yesterday evening (episode My Old Lady) on national
TV. Now I've never been a fan of "hospital" shows but this
one was very funny. Thought I noticed some steadicam shots
and can only imagine who was "walking" the camera on those.

Feels pretty incredible to "know" someone who worked on
a show that is being aired by a TV station here.

I hope to see more episodes!
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Old June 6th, 2003, 09:05 AM   #2
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Rob i worked as an A camera operator on a really crummy australian show for 2 years...

and it still makes me go weak at the knees when i speak to people who work with the big boys in LA, i can't wait to conquer LA with my stuff.

Zac
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Old June 6th, 2003, 11:39 PM   #3
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I'm a huge fan of John C. McGinley. Scrubs is a great show and we're fortunate to have Charles on board with us.
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Old June 7th, 2003, 03:03 AM   #4
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Thanks Rob. Glad you liked it. That particular episode was our third to air, and it is one of my favorites in the way that it blended the laughs with real emotion and serious scenarios without being maudlin. Pretty ballsy for a (then) unproven freshman comedy.

I actually do all of the operating on the show, Steadi and otherwise, and DP some second unit stuff.

Keep a'watchin!
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Old June 7th, 2003, 06:33 AM   #5
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Charles... You are a DP too? I have a question... I know WHAT a Director of Photography is, sort of, but would like to know more.
What kind of equipment do you use, and what are the duties?
Thanks
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Old June 7th, 2003, 01:18 PM   #6
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OK...

The usual breakdown of a union camera dept. is:

Director of Photography (aka the cinematographer, also known as the cameraman): head of the department, works with the director, production designer and other department heads to create the look of the show. Designs the lighting setups, has varying amounts of input over the camera and lens choices (some directors are more or less hands-on about this). His right-hand men/women are the gaffer, the key grip and the operator, who carry out his directions for the lighting and camera placement.

Camera Operator: I posted a ridiculously lengthy description of duties here a while back, wouldn't know how to find it at this point, but in a nutshell: works with the director and the DP to line up and execute the camera moves.

1st Assistant: Pulls focus, manages the rest of the department and make sure all gear is ordered and functioning.

2nd Assistant: "runs" for the 1st, builds/breakdowns cameras, slates each take, does camera reports, records info on each setup (focal length, lens, film stock etc).

Loader: loads the magazines, manages the inventory of film, acts as liason for on-set camera personnel and production (i.e. makes phone calls)

For additional camera days, a "B" unit would add another operator, 1st and 2nd assistant; for big multiple camera days (stunts, explosions, etc) you keep lettering the cameras down the line. On my current show we will have a few "A" through "D" camera days.

For a digital show, the loader is replaced by a video tech, who will assist the DP in dialing in the look they desire.

To more specifically answer the question about the DP position, Keith:

Equipment-wise, a set of incident and spot meters are standard, with color temperature meter optional (gaffer usually uses his). Beyond that, everyone works differently--some other items would be:

- PDA or PC software to calculate the position of the sun at a given time to determine ideal shooting time while prepping
- "Look book"--binder of still images used as a visual reference with the director, and also with the color timer to assure proper timing of dailies.
- Polaroid (vintage peel-off type), used to judge lighting contrast

Actually, re-reading the question Keith, I'm not sure what you meant by "equipment"? Did you mean what kind of cameras?

But specifically: I have been working as a DP for years, but my more high-profile work is as an operator. On some of the shows I operate I move up to shoot (i.e., DP) second unit. I have shot a feature and a gaggle of short films and commercials. If you have all of the HBO channels including HBO Latino, you can check out my work every day--inbetween shows, they have short bumpers that end with a "next on HBO" listing which include stylized footage of "real life" Latino's. I shot that material a few years ago, and it still runs daily, much to my surprise (and disappointment--I thought I would have been called back to shoot more by now!)
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Old June 7th, 2003, 01:55 PM   #7
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Wow, great info, Chas... I'll try to find that previous post you were referring to and maybe combine it with this one as an article for the site, if that's all right with you.
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Old June 7th, 2003, 02:01 PM   #8
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Charles, that show is one of my favorites on TV right now. The intro is pretty cool, everytime I watch that, i'm like "how did they do that?!?"...
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Old June 7th, 2003, 02:20 PM   #9
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Wow is right! Thanks Charles, for the info! The reason I asked about DPs, is due to a posting on Mandy.com. They are looking for a "DP with own equipment" to work on a documentry in Bosnia and Florida. I'm already in Fla, so I wanted to see if I was qualified. I guess not, as I have no idea what the equipment is, or where to find it, or how to use it.

Still very informative :)
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Old June 7th, 2003, 05:38 PM   #10
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That's a little different than I've seen it, Robert...on small crews, the grips and electrics tend to cover each other's workload (sometimes there are "swing" personnel who move between grip and electric) but at least domestically, grips don't dealwith power distribution. Also, the key grip and gaffer are essentially equals, each having best boys who coordinate the ordering of gear and personnel for upcoming work.

It's all a little different in other countries, in my limited experience working over there.

Keith, in a documentary situation the DP generally operates as well, as well as lighting as needed. Assuming this is a video job, you would obviously need a camera package, and would probably be expected to have a small lighting package as well (DC and AC).

Alex: the opening of "Scrubs" was shot with an elaborate motion control system. The move was programmed and then repeated many times, with each actor switching around between takes. The assistant director counted a cadence from a stopwatch which helped the actors pace their movements so they would match each other as much as possible. In post, the takes were dissolved rapidly between each other.
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Old June 7th, 2003, 05:51 PM   #11
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Thats cool. I knew it was done by repeating the same movements over and over, with different actors and stuff, but I didn't think there would actually be something that was programmed for the movements. Cool.
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Old June 7th, 2003, 08:08 PM   #12
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"at least domestically, grips don't dealwith power distribution"

Right--unless the crew is so small that there's no distinction between the grip and electric crew.
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Old June 10th, 2003, 05:22 AM   #13
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I think the post Charles mentioned can be found here
(at the bottom of the page)
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Old June 10th, 2003, 10:16 AM   #14
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The post I was thinking of (which seems to have thankfully disappeared into the dusty archives) was about 437 pages long with extra-wide margins. The world is a safer place without it.
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Old June 10th, 2003, 10:51 AM   #15
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Perhaps this one then??
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