Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Casting agents couldn't duplicate this if they tried

Today, we were shooting in an office building (in scenic Torrance) - and of course had to haul pretty much entire truck up to the second floor (at least they had a good elevator - I've gotten stuck before. I've also had to run lights up one at a time because the elevator wasn't big enough to hold our carts. That sucks more than I can explain).

First thing in the morning, the production designer warned us that we had to be super careful with the doors in the office as they were very expensive (over $1500 each). Of course, it was about 10 minutes before one of the doors got scratched - but not by us (thankfully).

We're still having generator problems, so my boss spent the entire day running around swapping out random stuff. Well over 100 years after it's discovery, there's still an element of voodoo to electricity - the littlest things can make portable generators go haywire. Basically, what's happening is that our generator is having a problem with something somewhere in our cable or distribution and is having to work so hard that it shuts down ( a Power Factor problem - only click the link if you can speak fluent geek). When the generator shuts down, all the lights on the set go out. When this happens while they're shooting, this is a huge problem.

What's causing this is anyone's guess. It could be one thing, or it could be five different things all working together. (I can't really explain this very well without veering in to major tech-speak).

Luckily, the producers have been very gracious about it and are trying to work with my boss to find the problem and fix it (again, this is largely guesswork - and involves replacing most of our cable* and distro in the hopes that we'll eliminate the problem).

The other source of amusement today was the pedometer reading.

Last weekend, on a whim, I bought a pedometer, just to see how much I walk at work (we've all been saying for years that we walk a lot every day, but no one I know has ever tallied it up). Today was the first day I wore it (well, I wore it Monday, but that doesn't really count), and I kept checking it throughout the day.

I knew I walked a lot at work, but I had no idea just how much: from 6 am until 8 pm, I walked 16.9 miles. The camera loader (who probably walks way more than me) wants to wear it Monday.

Since tomorrow's a holiday, after work, some of the crew went to Alpine Village in Torrance to have a drink. Alpine Village is a bad German themed, well, mall. It's got bad German food, bad German Tschokes, and bad German music. Unbeknownst to us, after dark it's also a major senior citizen nightspot.

The weird thing is the cover band was playing modern music. Kylie Minogue, Madonna, Santana, etc.. and the seniors, dressed to the nines (some of them in rather revealing disco-mamma wear), dancing like crazy. It was hilarious, but I hope I'm in that spry when I'm their age.

One of the sound assistants and I had a conversation that this would never be in a movie because casting folks can't come up with stuff like this.

It's true, you know. Casting people don't want the background to upstage the actors.

Call time: 6 am
Wrap time: 8 pm
Senior party time: until 10:30 pm, when I ran out of steam and headed home.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


*In layman's terms, electrical cable is a bunch of really thin wires held together by insulation. This is true for 4/0 (pronounced 'four-ought') cable (which can conduct hundreds of amps), your vacuum cleaner cord (which conducts about 18 amps), and everything in between. When the cable is mishandled, coiled backwards (it should always be coiled up clockwise), or run over by cars, these little thin wires break and the cable doesn't conduct as much electricity. It is a possibility that fucked up cable could be causing the generator problem. Have I mentioned that there's still an element of voodoo to electricity?

3 comments:

Tony N said...

Seems to me that you film folk don't use many just-ole-buddy-buddy incandescant lamps amymore.
All those HMI and other ballasts play hell with power factor, causing high reactive loads. Generators tend to get an "Screw-It!" attitude when the load current gets way out of phase with the voltage.

Anonymous said...

I think thats why I preffer good ol' DC power. We use it all the time if were shooting super slow motion (1,000 fps plus) and we want to use Dinos or anything smaller than a 5k. (to avoid any flicker)

arovinsky said...

The pedometer is a great idea. I'm going to try it. I'm a boom operator.
Does it do splits, so you can count individual trips, or how much mileage is on a repeated steadicam shot?
arovinsky