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Old May 25th, 2003, 06:02 PM   #1
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Whip Pans

I've been practising like mad with my Glidecam V8 for the past few months and think I'm getting on OK with the basic stuff. One thing that I've heard a lot of people refer to is Whip Pans, I think I've got a good idea of what it is but don't know the technique required for making them happen. Hopefully Charles will be able to offer some wisdom but any help will be greatly appreciated.


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Old May 25th, 2003, 06:45 PM   #2
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Glad things are working out with your V8!

Whip pans refer to very fast pans, which make great editing transitions: whip off one shot, whip on to another, and just cut or make a very short dissolve between the two--voila, looks like the two shots are joined in time.

When you execute them during a continuous shot, it's an exciting event. Watch the scene after the credits of "Point Break" (yup, that Keanu Reeves movie)--there's a fabulous Steadicam shot with Keanu and John C. McGinley walking through the FBI (?) headquarters which has some killer whip pans in it, operated by the king of the whip pan, Jimmy Muro.

Pulling them off without the rig "kicking back" is not easy. Most of us practice from time to time, sometimes get on a show that use a lot of them, but few of us master them. "Scrubs" has actually been great for me, we use them a lot as transitions.

The basic skill is that you use a full hand grip (wrap your hand around the post) and crank your hand quickly to get the rig moving, then to stop it you clamp down with the hand like an ABS braking system. By this I mean that just at the point in which the rig is about to bounce back in your hand, you must release your grip, then restore your original operating hand position. All this takes place in a millisecond. If you simply clamp down without doing this, the stop will be wobbly.

The great thing with a body mounted stabilizer is that you can pivot your body during the pan and thus whip an infinite number of degrees. It is possible to do a 360 degree whip and end up right where you started (try that on a tripod!).

To practice, start facing in one direction, and then try whipping to a subject 90 degrees to your right, then back to center, then 90 degrees to your left. See what is involved just doing the pan on the gimbal, and also pivoting your body with the pan. Try it with longer lenses (very hard!), this will help you see if you are applying to much force to stop the whip--the frame will "swim". Also try doing it while walking. Many great example of moving whip pans can be seen during the trauma scenes of "ER", when the camera whips between the various actors who are speaking one on top of each other.

To really pull off whip pans well, it does require the rig to be in good dynamic balance. This is a massive subject for another day--but here's the test: if you spin the camera slowly on the mounting bracket (hopefully you can make continuous complete pans i.e. spin like a top--I don't know if the V8 is capable of this?), the rig should pan "flat", not dip to one side or another during the rotation. If so, it will be a lot harder to make good whip pans (or any pans, for that matter) because the rig will always want to make that dip. Fixing this problem requires re-distributing the counterweights fore and aft--again, I don't have time or space to get into this at the moment, but just letting you know in case you get frustrated with the whip pan thing!

Good luck John!
Charles Papert
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Old May 26th, 2003, 02:49 AM   #3
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Thanks Charles, I'll give it a try :-)

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