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.