Jump to content


Photo

Practice Gear Head


  • Please log in to reply
22 replies to this topic

#1 Allen Achterberg

Allen Achterberg
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 437 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Santa Maria CA

Posted 15 December 2007 - 03:57 AM

so this fella, Ron Dexter was very generous and lent me one of his home made gear heads. Later, I may post a picture of it if people ask. The one he lent me is much cleaner than the one on his web site, and it works very effectively.

It's been a solid year since I'd last touched a gear head, and I was bashful and really only poked at it, found it very difficult.

I've been practicing a lot with it, have become much better. Spent most of tonight playing with it again, drew an 8, turned it sideways, and followed that. I can do the eight pretty fluently with the practice head, circles too. I had been doing it with my camera on the head, now with a laser beam. I did more 8's, circles, squares, and some more complex shapes. (any other suggestions welcome) Cat enjoyed the laser as well.

It took me a while to get used to the rotations, and I think I know why. When I was younger, I never played with an Etch A Sketch!!! I mean, I guess I poked at that too, but quickly put it down as I found drawing simple things didn't come natural, it was a skill I had to learn. Not that I only accept skills that come naturally, but the toy never appealed to me. Until Now.

Would operating a gear head have come easier to me if I had played with an Etch A Sketch a lot as a child? I think so. I will assume I am not the only one to make the connection, but instead of ron handing me an etch a sketch, he handed me one of his home made gear heads. I think the etch a sketch would've been great practice point as well. It will teach Independent coordination of each hand. One needs to keep rotating one way, while the other already in motion needs to reverse it's rotation without affecting the other hand. And that's a skill I would have loved to have while the Panahead sat doing nothing while my friend (DP) also fearing the gear head decided the the O'conner was easiest.

anyhow, I'm very thankful for the Practice head.

so, I'd like to ask any Camera Operators their thoughts on this. And if they have any learning suggestions they can offer.
  • 0

#2 Jonathan Bowerbank

Jonathan Bowerbank
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2815 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • San Francisco, CA

Posted 15 December 2007 - 03:59 AM

I've been pushing for a Gearhead and Focus Puller video game for the Wii
  • 0

#3 Allen Achterberg

Allen Achterberg
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 437 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Santa Maria CA

Posted 15 December 2007 - 04:06 AM

Crap. Internet Acted up, posted it twice. Ignore the other post.
  • 0

#4 John Brawley

John Brawley
  • Sustaining Members
  • 834 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Atlanta Georgia

Posted 15 December 2007 - 07:33 AM

so, I'd like to ask any Camera Operators their thoughts on this. And if they have any learning suggestions they can offer.



Ive owned a geared head for the last three years. On the kind of shoots I do, I figured I was going to be the only one that would actually pay for a geared head on the job. And that was the only way I would learn. By doing it all the time.

So I bought a rather inexpensive but very useable CP Mini Worral. Since them I have used it many times. I never bothered with all the figure 8 wrting your name stuff. I found by just simply getting on and doing it I picked it up pretty quickly. The trick is now working out when to use it and when to switch back to a regular head.

One of the first things I did was gaffer a little DV camera to it and zoom it in and follow some fish around in my fish tank. That way there was a certain randomness. I was filming something that was moving, changing speed organicially and I tried to transition to other fish as they swam through shot.

Oh.

And here's a shot of my CP in action...

Attached Images

  • John_Brawley.jpg

  • 1

#5 Brad Grimmett

Brad Grimmett
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2660 posts
  • Steadicam Operator
  • Los Angeles

Posted 16 December 2007 - 02:27 PM

John's right. You learn it quickly when you're actually working with it. Although I've heard some people never really get the hang of it, I think most folks figure it out pretty quickly.
When I was learning my friend and I drew a racetrack type pattern on a dry erase board and did that backwards and forwards with a laser pointer. We could easily draw a different pattern and follow that. I know other people go to the rental house and follow the techs around the shop. I think figure 8's and circles are pretty useless. When do you need to do a figure 8 on set?
  • 0

#6 Allen Achterberg

Allen Achterberg
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 437 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Santa Maria CA

Posted 16 December 2007 - 10:32 PM

When do you need to do a figure 8 on set?


When shooting a figure skater B)


I just do the figure eight to practice my reflexes, get used to reversing the direction my left hand turns while my right hand continues it's path un affected.

I've followed a race track pattern as well, and all in all I think it's helped a lot. I can instinctively do the move I want without anymore confusion. I'll take a few days off then go back to it. See how well I can retain the skill.

He will soon lend me his Worral. Can't wait.

Thanks for the Responses!
Allen
  • 0

#7 Chris Keth

Chris Keth
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4427 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • Los Angeles

Posted 17 December 2007 - 01:55 AM

I learned when I worked at my school's rental facility. I would make a big random pattern on a door out of masking tape. Just totally random scribbles. Then I put a Dv camera on it with a monitor and go at it. My aim was to keep the crosshair within the "track" of the tape. If I screwed it up, I would start over.

After that I started framing up people that would come in for stuff. I didn't find it all that tough to learn.

Following fish in a tank is a great idea, BTW. That's good training.
  • 0

#8 Allen Achterberg

Allen Achterberg
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 437 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Santa Maria CA

Posted 17 December 2007 - 04:12 AM

I'll definitely look into some practice with the fish.



you think this one is too big? Fishin_Tournament.jpg





she got us 2nd Place in the Tournament. (my back up plan) :D
  • 0

#9 Kirsty Stark

Kirsty Stark
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 98 posts
  • 2nd Assistant Camera
  • Adelaide, Australia

Posted 17 December 2007 - 07:07 AM

you think this one is too big?


Well, if it's a fishing competition, here's mine!

kirsty_fish.jpg

Back on topic, can someone please briefly explain to me what a gear head is and in what situation it would be used? Is it similar to the controls used to operate a hothead on a crane? Sorry for my ignorance!
  • 0

#10 John Brawley

John Brawley
  • Sustaining Members
  • 834 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Atlanta Georgia

Posted 17 December 2007 - 07:47 AM

Back on topic, can someone please briefly explain to me what a gear head is and in what situation it would be used? Is it similar to the controls used to operate a hothead on a crane? Sorry for my ignorance!



They *can* be very similar to the kinds of controls you see on a hot head or any remote head for that matter. There are wheeles, joysticks (like on jimmy jibs) and then there are tripods with monitors strapped to them that you operate. But wheels are generally better for this type of head... and here's why.....

A gear head is a more precise way of moving the camera. The gear refers to a gear box, usually multispeed, that then drives either a belt (pannahead) chain (arri) or a cable (worral) that moves the head. One pans and one tilts.

Now the reason you want to use a geared head is because it gives you a very precise stop. So lets say you want to tilt up on someone who is sitting and stands from a couch. Normally on a fluid head there's always a little backlash or wobble when you stop the move, especially if it's a big one. With a gear head, you can stop it dead with no little wiggly jiggly overshoot bit at the end. And it's precise. You can measure that it takes two and half turns to move from the "a" position to the "b" position when the actor has stood up. That at EACTLY two and half turns there will be exactly the head room you want. So you can do the move quick and stop it dead without thinking.

Or you can say, pan from the 11o'clock position (on the wheel) until the 7 o'clock and you know that C' stand won't sneak into frame.

They are also a little more "nodal" than a regualr head as well. On closeshots when you tilt up and down, the camera actually leans closer or further away on a regular head. Geared heads tend to tilt through their nodal point.

They aren't good for really fast pans, pans larger than 180 degrees on a dolly in a tight corner in low mode, or when you want to get low to the ground at all or are in a hurry.

Otherwise they're grouse....

jb
  • 0

#11 Tony Brown

Tony Brown
  • Sustaining Members
  • 689 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • London

Posted 17 December 2007 - 11:34 AM

or a cable (worral) that moves the head. in a hurry.



There was a cable Worrall? I remember that terrible Mitchell (clever but an absolute pain) that was cable driven but the Worralls I used (and carried for miles with a Fox or Quadra wedge on top!) were direct worm drive, as was the Technohead.

When the handles come out, hands on directors suddenly become very involved with the artists..... funny that.
  • 0

#12 Stuart Brereton

Stuart Brereton
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3070 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 17 December 2007 - 11:44 AM

The original Worralls were direct drive. The mini worrall had a cable.
  • 0

#13 Tony Brown

Tony Brown
  • Sustaining Members
  • 689 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • London

Posted 17 December 2007 - 12:15 PM

The original Worralls were direct drive. The mini worrall had a cable.



Never heard of them.... I must be getting old....
  • 0

#14 John Brawley

John Brawley
  • Sustaining Members
  • 834 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Atlanta Georgia

Posted 17 December 2007 - 12:45 PM

Never heard of them.... I must be getting old....


Stuart's right. The CP mini Worral....being made by.....Cinema Products of course ! It's the one in the photo above in my first post.

The manual from the 80's for the head, either a 35BL on it...or...wait for it..the electronic fandagled contraption.....the CP Genesis ! Or whatever CP called their "CP'd" video camera, circa 1982.

jb
  • 0

#15 Matt Pacini

Matt Pacini
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1246 posts

Posted 17 December 2007 - 07:37 PM

A gorgeous woman who not only is into filmmaking, but fishing.
sigh...
I think I'm in love...
:rolleyes:
  • 0

#16 Allen Achterberg

Allen Achterberg
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 437 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Santa Maria CA

Posted 17 December 2007 - 10:59 PM

A gorgeous woman who not only is into filmmaking, but fishing.
sigh...
I think I'm in love...
:rolleyes:


ya, aint she somthin'....
  • 0

#17 Chris Keth

Chris Keth
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4427 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • Los Angeles

Posted 18 December 2007 - 12:18 AM

A gorgeous woman who not only is into filmmaking, but fishing.
sigh...
I think I'm in love...
:rolleyes:


Fishing. That's something I haven't done nearly enough of since high school. I haven't tied a fly in years. :(
  • 0

#18 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11941 posts
  • Other

Posted 18 December 2007 - 09:31 AM

> Well, if it's a fishing competition, here's mine!

Not fair - you live in Australia. Everything in Australia is either toxic, poisonous, venomous, toothy, sharp, spiky, dangerous or, usefully for international fishing competitions, seven times the usual size.
  • 0

#19 Kirsty Stark

Kirsty Stark
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 98 posts
  • 2nd Assistant Camera
  • Adelaide, Australia

Posted 18 December 2007 - 09:41 AM

Haha - doesn't take much to impress you guys, does it? A girl with a fish or a toolbelt and you're happy. :)

Thanks for the explanation John - I've never seen anything of the sort, but now that you've explained them, I want one!
  • 0

#20 Kirsty Stark

Kirsty Stark
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 98 posts
  • 2nd Assistant Camera
  • Adelaide, Australia

Posted 18 December 2007 - 09:45 AM

> Well, if it's a fishing competition, here's mine!

Not fair - you live in Australia. Everything in Australia is either toxic, poisonous, venomous, toothy, sharp, spiky, dangerous or, usefully for international fishing competitions, seven times the usual size.


Actually, this one was caught in Fiji, on a handline.

But you're right, I do live in Australia... and as far as I know, I'm not toxic, poisonous, venomous, toothy, sharp, spiky, dangerous, or seven times the usual size. :)
  • 0


Aerial Filmworks

Abel Cine

FJS International, LLC

Paralinx LLC

Willys Widgets

Rig Wheels Passport

Metropolis Post

Glidecam

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Tai Audio

Technodolly

Visual Products

CineTape

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Opal

CineLab

rebotnix Technologies

Ritter Battery

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Wooden Camera

The Slider

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Glidecam

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Technodolly

CineLab

Abel Cine

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Aerial Filmworks

Visual Products

The Slider

CineTape

Ritter Battery

FJS International, LLC

Tai Audio

rebotnix Technologies

Willys Widgets

Metropolis Post

Rig Wheels Passport

Opal

Paralinx LLC

Wooden Camera