Back before modern technology, the gaffer used hand signals to direct the lighting techs, which meant that said techs had to stay on set and pay attention.
Now, with the advent of communications technology, we have walkie talkies – we can hear the gaffer talk, to we don’t have to stand at attention all day – we can go get coffee, go play Candy Crush, read a book, whatever. As long as we’re back in the set when it’s time to light.
Handy? Sure. Even with the side effect of deafness caused by that one person on every crew who is super loud and won’t move the damn mic away from his or her face even after being asked a thousand times.
We always get the same type of walkie – heavy, but with a decent battery life. If there’s a lot of chatter on the channel, one may have to change at lunch. When the battery gets low, there’s a beep in the ear.
Out work today was what’s called a Pilot Presentation. It’s what you shoot before you shoot the pilot, so you can shop the show to the sort of people who will hand over wads of cash to create some fine, American-made entertainment.
On this particular day, production have tried to save money by using non-standard walkies. They’re much smaller, and have a fun feature where an actor’s voice announces “channel one””channel two”, etc… If you spin the dial really fast, you can make him say “chanchanchanchan”, which is kind of fun.
It also announces when the battery is dead with the same actor saying “low battery”. Which is nicer than the beep, but happens way too often. By lunchtime, I’d had to change twice. Oddly, the voice did not let me know that battery death was imminent. Seems like a feature they’d want to add.
Other than fun with the walkie voice guy, it was a quiet day. Most of these presentations are only a short bit so once we’re lit, we’re sitting and waiting for wrap.
Tomorrow will be our long day, as they’ll shoot for 12 hours and then we’ll have to wrap the stage after that.