Dimmer board mood lighting:
December 18, 2013 • 6:32 pm 1
This has been an odd year. Totally dead, and then a completely frantic fourth quarter. I might have work between Christmas and New Years, which almost never happens.
No, I’m not complaining. Work is work and there’s nothing like an 8 month dry spell to really make one appreciate that paycheck (and the qualifying hours so I can keep my insurance. That’s nice, too).
I’d originally been booked (on a TV show featuring a former movie star who understandably likes the TV hours better) for three rigging days this week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday), which then became two (Tuesday, Friday). It happens. Things change.
Then, I got the call at 6 am Monday morning to come in and cover someone on first unit (the shooting crew) who had called in sick.
The only downside was that I’d been out the night before, and thinking I wasn’t working the next day, had a bowl of spicy ramen with extra garlic (and then grated more garlic over it – after all, the cat was the only one who was going to have to smell me) and sake.
The sake wasn’t the problem. It was the garlic. It was coming out of my pores, and whenever I exhaled, a malodorous cloud hung in front of my mouth.
So, I made my apologies about the way I smelled as soon as I got there, and then tried not to breathe on anyone for the rest of the day.
Originally the plan had been for me to work the rig Tuesday, but since there was still a sickness related opening on the crew, I stayed on the production unit and someone else was called in to rig.
Which was fine – the shooting crew are wonderful nice folks that I really enjoy working with, and we were on a stage – which, although overheated (our actress gets cold at any temperature below ‘brimstone’), is still nice.
Out of the sun, actual flush toilets handy, and a set that pretty much lights itself, so my biggest problem was finding power drops for the stinger-related needs of the crew.
My sick co-worker got better, so I was off today.
I rode the bike to the garden, did some digging and some hand-wringing over the raised-bed wood replacement I’m going to have to do very soon, and then headed home.
I’m off tomorrow, so I’m safe to eat garlic tonight.
November 1, 2013 • 1:56 pm 1
A backdrop against a stage floor and a pit. On sound stages, any part of the floor that’s hollow underneath the boards must be marked, because if you roll a lift over it, the floor can collapse. This one’s pretty small, but there are a few stages where most of the floor is covering a pit and trying to hang lights when you can’t use a lift can be trying, especially if you’ve got tall sets.
Yesterday was my first day out from behind the dimmer board – I took a one day call on a friend’s TV show shooting right down the street from my pad. In addition to the wonderfully short commute, it was really nice to be able to go to the bathroom when I wanted to, visit crafty when I wanted to, and the crew were all very nice folks that I really enjoy working with. They even got us out early (5 pm) so folks could go home and have Halloween with their kids.
Thankfully, it’s still busy out there so I’ve already got at least four days next week.
Hooray for work!!
October 4, 2013 • 7:13 pm 1
When working up high, it’s very, very important to stay safe and be certain that nothing falls. Even something seemingly harmless like a roll of tape or a pen can cause problems if it plummets 40 feet.
So, everything is either kept in a container (a box, a milk crate, etc…) or tied off to the rails.
Normally, one wouldn’t bother to tie off a can of iced tea, but this happened to be in a high traffic area (near the ladder) and clearly someone felt the need to stay safe. And keep their tea out of the cardboard box of water and soda we’d brought up with us. Anything in the main drink/snack stash is community property and subject to drinking by anyone at any time. But a can, tied off to a railing is clearly private property.
October 3, 2013 • 8:31 am 4
Wherever bored dudes congregate, eventually all sorts of graffiti will appear. Mostly names and dates, but also the occasional drawing of a penis, boobs, or political endorsement.
But a few years ago a female co-worker and I found the granddaddy of all obscene scrawls. Naked women in the dirty magazine pose (on the knees with naughty bits facing the audience) with graphically detailed genitals.
If you’re female in this business you have to be able to ignore quite a bit that would, in any other industry, result in a successful lawsuit, but this was a bit much, even though we both admired the artistic talent and attention to detail.
This was a man who could definitely have found the clitoris.
My co-worker decided she didn’t want to spend the next few months looking at these, and used her own considerable artistic talent to make them not so….female. And very well endowed.
We’re down for a week on the sitcom (actress is “sick”), so I took a day rigging at the very stage where the naughty drawings had been. Of course, the first thing I did upon going into the perms was have a look.
Someone had blacked out the altered naughty bits and added a bit of choice narrative alongside about “art”.
I’m not sure which one I found better – the fact that someone had taken the time to black out dick drawings, which are on just about every surface in the perms (I usually don’t photograph them, but they’re there, trust me), or the dogged effort to compose a few paragraphs about artistic freedom in the medium of marker and wooden beam.
Kudos to you, anonymous freedom guy.
And yes, I feel safe in assuming it was a guy.
In other non-genital related news, it’s finally cooling off here in Los Angeles. Today felt not at all like the surface of the sun, which was nice.
After our down week, I go back to sitcom world for another week or two and then I’m back to hustling any best boy I can find for work.
I will, however, have gotten my required 400 hours to keep my benefits through the end of 2014, for which I am extremely grateful.
Also, I have no idea what’s going on with those super annoying text link ads that you’re seeing. I’m trying to figure out how to turn them off.
September 3, 2013 • 7:48 pm 2
Since I’ve decided I can only learn one new thing at a time, I’m going to be making my lighting maps the old-fashioned way – with paper and a template.
When I came up with the idea, it seemed reasonable enough – just go and buy a template and then I’ll be tracing my way to not having to learn a fucking CAD program on top of everything else I’m trying to absorb.
Except that prancing into Studio Depot, whipping out my credit card and bypassing technology wasn’t as easy as I’d imagined.
The templates haven’t been stocked in quite some time, since apparently everyone in the world is using the aforementioned fucking CAD program.
Guess I’m going to have to have a talk with the gaffer about how we’re going to map this. Hopefully he’s got a template somewhere and can bring it in.
Maybe in a week or so I’ll be able to tackle new learnings, but right now my brain is worn the hell out.
Also, it’s hotter than ass here in Los Angeles, so there’s that. Wait. I was trying to make a point, then I kept sweating and now I… forgot.
UPDATE: Filmtools has them. Sweet.
Guess where I’m going after work tomorrow?
July 23, 2013 • 10:51 pm 0
Most types of lights have ‘tails’ with heavy rubber jackets, but some units, like striplights, far cycs, and cyc strips, are hung and tilted down (positioning the tail on top of the light where the heat vents) which makes the heat too much for standard coatings, and a special fireproof jacket is used.
Back in the day, these jackets were made of asbestos, but now they’re a type of woven fiberglass cloth stuff:
I’m not 100 % sure which material we’re looking at here.
Whatever this is sheds bits all over the place, and any contact that it makes with bare skin results in ferocious itching. Should one manage to wash the whatever-they-are particles off the skin, the particles that have lodged in one’s shirt will take up residence on said freshly washed arms.
My first job Monday morning was to circuit (connect to power, label, etc..) the far cycs, and I got that fiber all over me.
Certain types of pain one just learns to live with. I’m standing for 12 hours and my feet hurt. Got it. I’m lifting things all day and my shoulders hurt. Expected. The painters are spraying right under me and my sinuses are clogged. Yup, that’s normal.
But then one thing like itching gets thrown in the mix and it all goes to hell. All of a sudden I notice the aching feet and the smell of paint and the sweat pooling up in my bra. And it bothers me.
Right at the apex of my itchy nightmare, I was sent ‘up high’ to feed some cable out of the perms.
Oddly enough, the sweat rolling off me (no, really. It was about 110 degrees in the perms) was what finally stopped the itching.
Today, I outsmarted the fiber from hell and wore a long-sleeved shirt while I worked. Then, I finished and removed said shirt by pulling it over my head, which deposited the fiber in my hair, so my head itched all day.
I can’t win for losing.
Just for posterity, I’d like to point out that actual asbestos is marginally less itchy than the fiberglass stuff.
How I know that is probably a blog post all on its own.
April 23, 2013 • 7:08 pm 2
A follow spot is, as one might imagine, a spotlight used to follow an actor. You’ve all seen the results on dancing shows, ice rink spectaculars and “talent” competitions.
There are many different varieties of follow spot – of course, the one that’s the easiest to operate is the most horrible to move around. The Strong Super Trouper weighs approximately the same as an obese elephant and is long enough that it’s impossible to get up a stairwell with any sort of turn.
But it’s amazingly easy to work and moves very smoothly. When properly balanced it’s a breeze to follow the movements of even the most erratic actor or dancer.
But sometimes it’s just not practical – like yesterday. The riggers wouldn’t have been able to get the Super Trouper up the stairs to the platform where I would be working.
So they went with a smaller unit which was lighter – which is a great thing if you’re the one carrying it, but it’s a bad thing for the operator.
Lighter means not as smooth and not balanced as well.
I was fine when the actor was standing but as soon as any erratic movement started it was really difficult to maintain a smooth pan or tilt. The light kept either sticking and making the pan look jerky and, well, bad.
My boss and the DP both seemed very happy, though, and that’s all that counts.
They didn’t need the follow spot for the last scene, so I came down from my perch and helped work the set and then wrap to the truck.
It was a fun day with extra nice folks and as an added bonus, the location was so close to my apartment that I was able to walk to and from work – which was extra awesome at wrap because the traffic was terrible.
March 29, 2013 • 8:59 pm 3
Back in the old days, to get to the perms one would climb a rope ladder. Then, someone figured out that this was probably unsafe and something about which the dirty toolbelt people might be able to sue.
Enter the wall ladder.
If you’ve ever tried to climb a rope ladder, you will agree that a ladder fixed to a wall is much safer.
But still not that safe.
Enter the cage.
The cage prevents said ladder climber from falling to his or her death (or severe injury) and features a handy platform halfway – not for resting, but to allow more than one person to climb the ladder simultaneously. One person climbs the bottom half, and when that person steps off the lower ladder and onto the platform, the next person starts up.
Mostly for safety, but also because no one wants to see what’s up a co-worker’s shorts. Trust me on this one.