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first day as 2.AC. What a day!!


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#1 Adam Wallensten

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Posted 09 August 2006 - 04:21 PM

I had my first job as 2nd AC today, and what a day it was! I have previously worked in the art department for the last 2 years, but have always wanted to move over to the camera department. I finally got the chance through a 1.AC that I've contacted. I new much of the stuff in theory but haven't had much practical experience except loading and filming with my own K-3. I got a quick loading course yesterday at the rental place and got thrown into it today.

I was told that it would probably be a quite relaxing day since it was MOS and the clapping wasn't very important so I was quite confident. The shoot was a commercial for some french jewelry with the danish supermodel Helena Christensen (DoP: Tetsuo Nagata, Director: Vincent Peters). We shot with an Arri 435 on a technocrane and I should mainly concentrate on the loading. Everything started out fine, I loaded the mags, and except a few too short and too long loops, the loading went good. After a couple of scenes in 25 fps, the rest of the day would be in slowmotion. Unfortunately we only had 2 mags 400' mags and 2 1000' mags. This was not enough! We only had 4 1000' rolls and the 3 of them was used quickly. When I was to load the 4th one the lid on the mag just wouldn't close. I was afraid that I hadn't held it firmly enough when I took it out of the can so I became a bit nervous. I tried to even out the roll but couldn't. I told the my department and the production and they sent out a runner for another 1000' roll, since the 1.AC couldn't fix it either (he hit the roll against the floor and tried to push the core and film back in, but it just wouldn't move). It was probably wound up too tight and crooked. So for the next couple of hours we only had the 400' rolls and 2 mags, and we were shooting 100 fps. The film were used so fast that my loading couldn't keep up with it, even though I worked as fast as I could without making mistakes. So everytime we had shot a mag the whole production had to wait the minutes it took me to reload the next one, and the model had a deadline. I was sweating like a pig loading and unloading non-stop. It seemed though that everyone understood the situation and I didn't get too much sweat about it. When the new 1000' roll finally came it turned out that it wouldn't fit in the mag either. It seems strange, but I really can't see how I could have caused the film and core sliding since they were super tight. But it didn't feel good telling the production manager that the new roll didn't work either. After, what felt like an eternity, we finally wrapped and I could start to unwind. We ended up shooting 18 rolls of film. I'm just glad we didn't shoot sound as well, cause there was absolutely no time for clapping or anything but loading. Even though it was a really tough day, and my heartbeat was way too high for the last couple of hours of the shoot, I'm happy now that I made it through and didn't make too many f... ups. I now that I'm competely new in this role, but I can't imagine that even an experienced loader would find it a piece of cake. At least Helena Christensen looked great in a swimsuit with a VERY large cleavage.

Well, just wanted to share my day with you guys. The 1. AC told me I did good and promised to hire me again, hopefully the next job won't be as hectic.

Is it a common problem the film is wound up too tightly and crooked?

Adam Wallensten
Denmark
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#2 Matias Nicolas

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Posted 11 August 2006 - 01:56 PM

What a day an, you said it!!
it's not common what happened to you, but you managed well. Once I had a similar problem. I received 5 rolls of 1000' of negative film . The external side of some of the film cans had some damage, as if someone had threw them to the floor, hard . The rol inside the tent seemed ok so I tried to load it . But after passing the film , I couldn't push the rol trough the core holder of the mag, it was impossible. Finally y compared it with a used single core , just to found it wasn't round : had an invisible and small deformation . Like an egg . So well, I did the same as you did. But was the only problem I had , since 1998 , when I started...
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#3 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 11 August 2006 - 05:07 PM

Why didn't you just load 400ft rolls into the 1000ft mags? You had the mags there and there is no reason you can't load a 400ft roll in a 1000 footer. It could have saved everyone a lot of time.
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#4 Max Jacoby

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Posted 11 August 2006 - 07:08 PM

Tetsuo Nagata is quite a big time Dop in France. I believe he got a Cesar for the photography of 'La Chambre des Officiers'. Not a bad start for you.
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#5 Anna Carrington

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Posted 14 August 2006 - 03:48 AM

What a first day! - Good that you survived OK - unfortunately you get all sorts of weird things like this happening as a loader - I'll never forget the time when we had some S16mm stock which was physically too wide and therefore the top of the film was being shaved off in the magazine - creating "furballs" of emulsion - scared the s**t out of me - obviously I told the 1st and other crew members about the problem as I didn't know whether it would effect the image quality - luckily it didn't and I subsequently found out (through a similar cinematography forum) that there was a certain batch number that was too big and other loaders all over the world were having similar problems!

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#6 Dennis Fukushima

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Posted 14 August 2006 - 02:47 PM

Nice job getting through that shoot Adam. First day loading, especially on a new system, is never "relaxing." :lol:

It's one of those things that often get overlooked when getting instruction on loading, but having the film cone out is a real pain in the neck. It can cause noise and debris from friction with the mag, and in bad cases like yours, I suppose it can even prevent the mag from closing. It's bad enough with new 400' loads, but it's even worse with 1000's and worse still with recans. You just gotta be really careful about keeping your grip tight on the roll to prevent/minimize it. If the roll comes out of the bag already messed up, then there's not much you can do. Note that trying to smash it back flat could (theoretically) cause scratches in the emulsion if dirt/debris is in there, but I think it's rare and if production gives you no other options, you gotta do it. Just clear it with your next higher-up in your department first. I think if a new roll is already warped, I can only guess it's probably due to rough handling of the flim when it was still in the can.

I'm surprised that they had you loading on a big shoot so soon, but I guess it's sink or swim and you SWAM!

Also, it's kind of weird that they had so few 1000' loads to begin with considering it was almost all super slo-mo, but maybe production got a better deal on the 400's.

Anyway, I definitely can empathize with the pressure you felt. Anytime things don't go smoothly in the bag, it's a nightmare. Glad to hear they were understanding and you made it through. B)
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