Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Friday Photo

Wattage label

Although household light bulbs come from the factory labelled, good luck reading that label in near darkness on a stage while you’re in a hurry because there’s a burn out and the gaffer’s yelling at you on the walkie because they need a replacement Right. Now.

So, we label the bulb with a marker so it’s easier to see. Obviously, this particular bulb is a 60 watt.

Oh, and that whole thing about no more tungsten light bulbs? We can still get them.

Filed under: Photos, Work, , , , , ,

Friday Photo

Earlier this week, I worked 40 hours in three days, with a five hour turnaround (one show to another, so there’s no minimum) between day two and day three.

Although I knew it was going to hurt, I wasn’t prepared to still be exhausted two days later.  Guess I’m getting old.

So, since I still can’t think and am planning on doing a lot of napping today, here’s a photo:

We know all your secrets

From a reality show about cooking (hence the restaurant setting). Careful what you say!

Filed under: camera, cranky, Photos, up all night, Work, ,

Friday Photo

All stands come in two versions – regular and low. Regular stands, at the lowest point, are about four (ish, I’ve never measured) feet high.  Should one desire to have the light lower than that, one must use the ‘low’ version of the stand, which is pictured here.

This is a ‘low crank’, which is used for large, heavy lights – the crank makes it easier to raise and lower them.

Low cranks are also used for large lamps that aren’t all that heavy, but are a pain in the ass to carry around – since the low crank has wheels, one can just drag the giant lamp around instead of straining one’s back and the credibility of the set lighting department.

Filed under: movies, Photos, studio lots, Work, , , , , ,

Friday Photo

Background slash of light

In the background of just about every night scene in every movie or TV show you’ve ever seen is The Slash.

It’s the thin diagonal line of light that highlights curtains, walls, blinds, trees, shrubbery and slow-moving extras.

The Slash is one of those things that has no base in reality at all, but looks really nice and brightens up the background in an interesting way so everybody does it.

Should you be very bored and have on hand a bottle of some sort of alcohol, I recommend putting on a movie with a lot of night interiors and taking a shot each time The Slash makes an appearance.

On second thought, maybe not. You might not make it to the end of the movie.


Filed under: movies, Photos, Work, , , , , ,

Friday Photo and Good News (not in that order)

Having spent a fair amount of time dealing with endless layers of bureaucracy (moving from one country to another several times in one’s lifetime instills a sense of cynicism and an understanding of the need to present redundant paperwork in triplicate, but that’s a whole different story), yesterday I chugged down enough coffee to really make me motivated, and geared up to do battle.

First stop, the disability office in scenic Van Nuys*. I had my pay stubs, but decided I’d go and get the payout summary just to cover my ass. I was expecting a DMV-like wait (here in California that’s forever and a day. I think the last time I was in the DMV office, I saw dust-covered skeletons in the waiting area, and no, it wasn’t Halloween), but there were only three people in line in front of me and my wait was a grand total of 5 minutes. The lady behind the counter was pleasant and very helpful – she took one of the pay stubs, looked up my case file, instantly printed out what I needed and then wished me happy holidays.

Pleasantly surprised, I then proceeded to the insurance company office, where I signed in, was told there’d be a bit of a wait, and then within 15 minutes was ushered into the office of a very nice lady who took the payout summary from me (“It’s less paper”) and then updated my status to ‘eligible’ right there and then.

I asked for something in writing, just in case the cards didn’t come and there was some sort of screw-up, and she handed me a printout with an official-looking red stamp on it, wished me happy holidays and then informed me that my insurance cards would be mailed out as soon as possible.

Talk about pleasant surprises.

Not only did it all work out well, everything happened before noon, so I decided to go for a swim – charged up on coffee, I figured I’d do a really fast paced hour-long workout which would entitle me to a celebratory bacon avocado burger, but all I managed to accomplish was pulling a muscle in my leg which means I’ll have to continue eating boring healthy crap. Remember, kids – always warm up first.

It should sort itself out in a few days, but if it doesn’t at least I still have health insurance.

Bounced light

Sometimes, one wants a soft glow of light instead of a harsh beam. When this happens one ‘bounces’ the light off a light-colored surface such as a wall. When we’re shooting night exteriors, just about every widow you see in the shot that’s glowing has one of these bounced lights inside the room. This gives an even soft light that doesn’t look like some sort of police searchlight or evil alien probe has set up shop in said room, which would be bad. Unless that’s the look you’re going for, of course.

*For those of you not familiar with Los Angeles, Van Nuys is not very scenic at all. It’s mostly strip-malls and car lots.

Filed under: Non-Work, Photos, , , ,

Saturday Photo

Above the dropped ceiling

I would have posted this on Friday, but I was completely wrecked after working all night Thursday night (and getting food poisoning from the catering truck. Again), so here it is a day late.

Shooting in office buildings means contending with dropped ceilings – most of the time they’re just a pain in the ass (and full of territorial spiders), but every once in a while some joker somewhere decides to be efficient and put fiberglass insulation above the panels.

You know, for extra points.

Unfortunately, that means that when we (or the building’s regular maintenance guys) have to get up above the panels for any reason (like to hang lights), we get a face full of fiberglass.

Have I mentioned that fiberglass insulation makes me itch like crazy? I don’t mean normal itching. I mean clawing at my skin until I bleed itching.  I kept having to abandon my co-worker while we were hanging lights to go to the ladies room and rinse off. Fortunately we were doing this near the end of the work day, so I didn’t have to itch for very long and I’m reasonably certain that my co-worker will eventually forgive me.

At least there’s no worry about asbestos in newer buildings.

Filed under: locations, Photos, Work, , , ,

Boo! It’s Friday Photo!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Happy Halloween!

I’ll be at work tonight so I won’t have to worry about giving out candy, which is good since I didn’t buy any.

Filed under: Non-Work, Photos, , , , , , ,

Thursday Photo

The entire time we were shooting in and around the circus tent, I kept reminding myself to be extra careful around the big metal stakes that were driven into the ground to hold up the tents:

Tent spike

I did really well until the last moment of the last night.

Right as we were getting ready to load our carts on the truck, a couple of us walked around the tents to do an ‘idiot check’ to make sure we hadn’t left anything behind and as I scanned the random bits of stuff  to make sure that none of it  was ours I walked right into a tent stake.

I’ve got a scrape surrounded by a green bruise on my shin – it looks like a moldy jelly donut.

Normally I don’t worry about the cuts and bruises that I get on my arms and legs, but this one’s huge and looks terrible, so even though it’s really hot today I don’t think I’m going to be wearing shorts.

Filed under: Photos, Work, , , , , ,

Friday Photo

Poor man's process

Normally, scenes which feature actors in a moving car are shot using a process trailer. The advantage of using a process trailer is that since the car containing the actors is being towed around the city, the shots look, well, real.

Sometimes, though, process trailers are impractical – either the show can’t afford them, the show isn’t shot in the city in which it takes place or there simply isn’t enough work in the car scene to justify the hassle (get trailer, rig trailer with lights, drive around, de-rig trailer. It eats the better part of a day, and requires extra equipment and manpower, so it’s not worth it for one short scene), so then we do what’s called a poor man’s process.

Poor man’s process is when the car sits stationary on a stage and we use lighting to create the illusion that it’s moving.  In this photo, we’re using a projection screen behind the car which really helps to sell it on film, but many people skip this step. There are lights placed around the car, and each light’s got a crew member (usually a grip, but since this process is labor intensive, the electricians help out, too) with it waving a solid flag in front of it periodically in order to mimic the shadows that fall across a car as it moves through traffic.

When done properly, it’s damn near impossible for the viewer to tell the difference.

Here’s a really excellent video showing (and doing a better job of explaining) a poor man’s process.

Filed under: Photos, Work, , , , , , ,

Friday Photo

Lately, I’ve been completely worn out in the evenings and haven’t really had the energy to do much of anything besides lay on the couch and stare blankly at the TV, so here’s a photo:

Burn test

Generally, one wants to ‘test burn’ lights while they’re on the ground, as it’s easier to repair them there than it is when they’re 40 feet up in the air.

These particular lamps are called spacelights.

Filed under: Photos, Work, , , , ,

June 2023

Flickr Photos



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"If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better." -Anne Lamott

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