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Thursday, December 22, 2011

••◊ stick-cam!

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, this blog post does not feature any bikini photos of Lara Flynn Boyle on the beach.  We're going green with tree power!  Quick question:  What do you do when your DP comes to you and says we have to figure out how to fly a $65,000 camera down a zip line without a safety net?  Keep in mind that all we have is the budget for a couple ropes and climbing hooks.  My first reaction was "oh... (awkward pause)... kaaaaaay".  It's one of those moments where you question if the guy has been on a 3 day Monte Python binge.  Then you realize that the director is actually pushing for this shot of the camera flying through the air and doesn't have it in the budget for an RC helicopter.  He wants spidercam on the cheap.

Enter "stick-cam" - my environmentally friendly innovation.  The first problem with putting a camera on a rope is that it dangles in all type of random directions.  Without a pulley you have to drag the camera along the zip line, which means it can get jerked from side to side..

The first two photos show the first stage of stability.  I tied a stick between the two climbing hooks so the camera wouldn't rock back and forth.  Triangles are very strong structures in general and offer a great deal of stability.  Think of a modern 2.5 pound bicycle frame that supports a 200 pound rider and 15 pounds of components - made up of three triangles.  Very strong and stable.

The second method of stability came from attaching the ropes through the 15mm rod mounts (see above picture) and holding them out to the side at arms length while running.  Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of that configuration below since the pictures were taken on out first failed attempt.  Again, triangles.  The triangle formed between the camera and two hands spread wide apart created lateral stability.  The director loved it and we got an atta-boy from the director.  Of course, atta-boys in the film world only last until the next shot setup.

Below you can see two pictures of me paging the director's monitor cable while Blair runs with the camera.  If it was going to fall off the rope I at least wanted it to be while he's dragging his camera as I generally don't carry $10k in cash for a lens replacement and camera repair!  Knowing Blair, if he's reading this he's probably thinking to himself, "chicken!"  Yep, I mean "bwak-bauk."

Special thanks to Elsa Mickelsen for these BTS production photos and to the Neshima production for letting me document their journey.

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