Jump to content


Photo

Camera Utility...advice?


  • Please log in to reply
14 replies to this topic

#1 Andrew Brinkhaus

Andrew Brinkhaus
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 176 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, CA

Posted 26 March 2008 - 04:07 PM

Will be wrangling cable for a show the next few days, filling in for a friend. I haven't wrangled before, so I am a little nervous in terms of making sure I get things somewhat right.

Any advice on methods of coiling, moving, etc. and/or things to look out for? Thanks!
  • 0

#2 Kar Wai Ng

Kar Wai Ng
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 127 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • Toronto, Canada

Posted 26 March 2008 - 04:23 PM

Hmm, I guess always keep the over/under coiling method in mind. Alternate 'inward' coils with 'outward' coils, or overhand with underhand...hard to explain, but it makes sense if you see it. Most decent flexible cables will behave properly this way, but there are always those stubborn stiff ones that have a mind of their own. If the cables don't lie flat when you throw em on the ground (ie they stand upright like coiled barbed wire does) then they've got a very stiff memory and I just coil them the way they want to be coiled.

If you're wrangling video cable for a live camera, i.e. it's moving and you're following, I'd keep the bulk of the coil in one hand, and a smaller coil in the other, feeding or taking up as needed as the camera moves. Have enough buffer to release cable quickly if the camera operator starts to run somewhere, but always keep an eye on having too much slack and hence tripping hazard.
  • 0

#3 Brad Grimmett

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

Posted 26 March 2008 - 05:48 PM

Any advice on methods of coiling, moving, etc. and/or things to look out for? Thanks!

If you know how to over/under then you'll be in good shape. The rest of the job is pretty self explanatory. If you don't know how to over/under, you better learn fast!
Keep one eye on the operator and one eye on the cable on the ground at all times. When I was a utility for basketball, I would leave about 3/4 of the cable on the ground at our main camera position and take about 50-75 feet with me, and then when we would go to the locker room or up into the stands I would start by pulling from the pile on the ground and then use the cable I was carrying as necessary, i.e., when someone was standing on the cable. When we just went out on the court during a timeout I would just use what I had in my hand.
Not sure what kind of job this is, so maybe this is too much info.
If this is a triax job, you'll get quite a workout, and you'll realize immediately that you have to leave a good portion of your cable on the ground at all times because of the weight. If this is a coax job you should have a much easier time of it.

"I'd keep the bulk of the coil in one hand, and a smaller coil in the other, feeding or taking up as needed as the camera moves."

This doesn't make sense since in order to coil cable you need a free hand. And when you're letting out cable you often will want to be able to control where you're laying the cable, and you'll need a free hand for that as well.
  • 0

#4 Andrew Brinkhaus

Andrew Brinkhaus
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 176 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, CA

Posted 26 March 2008 - 08:48 PM

Yeah, sorry I should have specified more about the job. It is for a TNA wrestling show at Universal. I believe it will be just standard coax, but I am not 100%.

Thanks for the tips so far. I am familiar and consistent with the "over-under" technique, I was more so curious as to methods of moving around, and releasing cable, etc. which you guys covered most of. Thanks!
  • 0

#5 Chris Keth

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

Posted 26 March 2008 - 09:20 PM

There really isn't much to it. Just keep your coils neat so that the operator can go where he or she wants whenever he or she wants. Don't put too much cable out (that you can't grab it up and coil it quickly) nor too little (that it holds up the operator). Sometimes it gets boring so make sure to stay attentive since action kind of hits suddenly sometimes.
  • 0

#6 Brad Grimmett

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

Posted 27 March 2008 - 08:39 PM

Yeah, sorry I should have specified more about the job. It is for a TNA wrestling show at Universal. I believe it will be just standard coax, but I am not 100%.

I'd bet it will be triax. It would be unpleasant to have to change batteries or tape when your camera was "live".
  • 0

#7 Brad Grimmett

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

Posted 27 March 2008 - 08:45 PM

Don't put too much cable out (that you can't grab it up and coil it quickly) nor too little (that it holds up the operator).

Back when I was working as a utility (do I sound like an old man yet?) I was proud of the fact that I could over/under triax just about as fast as I could run. You'll almost never NEED to coil that fast, but it was always a fun challenge.
  • 0

#8 Chris Keth

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

Posted 28 March 2008 - 12:04 AM

Back when I was working as a utility (do I sound like an old man yet?) I was proud of the fact that I could over/under triax just about as fast as I could run. You'll almost never NEED to coil that fast, but it was always a fun challenge.


Hey, whatever you can find that's fun. Coiling cable really isn't much fun. It's like the sparks racing to coil big piles of 4/0. It doesn't have much practical use but it's fun. I suppose someday it might get you on your way home a few seconds sooner. Those few seconds are important some days.
  • 0

#9 Brad Grimmett

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

Posted 28 March 2008 - 02:56 AM

It's like the sparks racing to coil big piles of 4/0.

Yeah, I remember racing with other people to coil 1000 ft pieces of triax when I was doing golf. Talk about a sore back! The day after a golf tourney we would coil between 120,000 and 160,000 ft of triax in about six hours. The sooner it was done the sooner we went home....

That's your next test Andrew...try over/undering in a pile on the ground. Sounds really easy until you try it.
  • 0

#10 Andrew Brinkhaus

Andrew Brinkhaus
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 176 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, CA

Posted 28 March 2008 - 10:46 AM

Haa, I tried it yesterday...Didn't happen. I had to pick the pile up and do from the side. Funny story about last night-

So I'm standing there during commercial (this was a live event) and I'm trying to get my cable kind of straightened out, because I was fortunate enough to get switched stations at the last second, so I was working a pile of triax that was wrapped for a lefty! The operator found it necessary to several times jump over the barrier and go running into the seating area, so I was left sprinting after him, trying to release cable from my opposite hand. Later, I told him my triax was wrapped the wrong way and his answer was for me to rewrap it. So he kindly grabs my cable, and tosses it on the floor. ...During a commercial! So now I have about 20 seconds to get this spaghetti off the floor and back into a usable wrap. Next thing I know, one of the wrestlers had run across between me and the operator, and had caught the cable on his foot, which he proceeded to drag into the ring. All the standby guys rushed in to get it off, but it was definitely a scary moment for me. It was a crazy night, but I survived. Lets hope tonight goes better.
  • 0

#11 Hal Smith

Hal Smith
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2280 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • OKC area

Posted 28 March 2008 - 11:50 AM

.......... It was a crazy night, but I survived. Lets hope tonight goes better.

Why? How I survived the ultimate live TV disaster stories are so much more fun to read. :)
  • 0

#12 Brad Grimmett

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

Posted 28 March 2008 - 01:34 PM

Haa, I tried it yesterday...Didn't happen. I had to pick the pile up and do from the side.

It takes some practice, but it's a very good skill to have if you're going to work as a utility with any frequency. Try again tonight, and use both hands when you make your coils....that might help. Also, ask another utility who seems really experienced to show you how it's done if you keep having trouble. Coiling cable that way is counter-intuitive and can be hard to figure out on your own. I remember having to be shown how to do it when I was learning.

So I'm standing there during commercial (this was a live event) and I'm trying to get my cable kind of straightened out, because I was fortunate enough to get switched stations at the last second, so I was working a pile of triax that was wrapped for a lefty! Later, I told him my triax was wrapped the wrong way and his answer was for me to rewrap it. So he kindly grabs my cable, and tosses it on the floor.

It's not cool that the operator grabbed and tossed your cable, but the truth is dropping all the cable on the ground and starting from scratch is the best way to fix the cable when you're in that situation. The best way is to drop the whole pile on the ground, move 5 or 6 feet from the pile to give the cable some slack so it will straighten as you pull it, and then re-coil it. Does that make sense? If you do it too close the memory of the cable will make it hard to reconfigure. Giving yourself some space will allow you to work the cable into the config you want it in.

The operator found it necessary to several times jump over the barrier and go running into the seating area, so I was left sprinting after him, trying to release cable from my opposite hand.

This happens quite often. The director says go and the operator goes! If that happens again tonight, try just letting the coil hang on your forearm and letting the cable unwrap off your arm as you run. Use your other hand to guide it by letting it slide through your fingers as it feeds out. Don't pull it off your arm with that free hand, let it drag THROUGH your hand and just keep enough contact so that you can control it.
These things are a bit easier done than said for me, so hopefully you can make some sense of what I've written and it will help a little.
Some operators have been known to "test" their new utilities on live events by doing things like throwing your cable on the ground. Try not to take it personally. It happens to everybody. Just keep at it and don't let it bother you and at a certain point your operator will stop testing you and start working WITH you.
It's hard when you can't hear what the operator is hearing and anticipate his/her actions, so as a utility you're often surprised by the quick movements of an operator. I always found it kind of fun to have to stay on my toes and be ready to sprint off in any direction at any moment. It can really keep the job from becoming boring!
Good luck tonight.
  • 0

#13 Andrew Brinkhaus

Andrew Brinkhaus
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 176 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, CA

Posted 29 March 2008 - 10:58 AM

Thanks for the advice Brad. Today is my last day so I will try to utilize everything you have recommended.
  • 0

#14 Andrew Brinkhaus

Andrew Brinkhaus
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 176 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, CA

Posted 29 March 2008 - 07:26 PM

Wrapped. Everything today went great. I was with a different operator, and that really helped a lot. The guy I was with before was filling in on a different camera for another operator who couldn't make it.

Today I fed from the back of my roll to the pile, instead of feeding out to the operator, and that worked much better. I didn't run into a single problem, even when the operator was running all the way around the ring! Thanks everyone for the advice. It definitely helped a lot.

BTW- Brad I tried wrapping over-under on the ground today, and apart from not having record breaking speed, I didn't have much trouble getting the hang of it. After a few wraps I saw that it was easier to get the hang of it by just grabbing the next section of cable, and pulling it underneath the current loop, and laying it flat. I may be back on this gig again in 2 weeks for the Pay Per View show, so I'll have a chance to practice some more.
  • 0

#15 Brad Grimmett

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

Posted 01 April 2008 - 04:35 PM

Today I fed from the back of my roll to the pile, instead of feeding out to the operator, and that worked much better.

I hadn't realized previously that you weren't staying with the operator. I'm sure you found it much easier and more effective to stay right behind the operator.

BTW- Brad I tried wrapping over-under on the ground today, and apart from not having record breaking speed, I didn't have much trouble getting the hang of it. After a few wraps I saw that it was easier to get the hang of it by just grabbing the next section of cable, and pulling it underneath the current loop, and laying it flat.

Sounds like you have it now. It'll come in really handy when you're wrapping at the end of a job.
  • 0


Metropolis Post

The Slider

FJS International, LLC

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Broadcast Solutions Inc

rebotnix Technologies

Glidecam

Paralinx LLC

Abel Cine

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Rig Wheels Passport

Aerial Filmworks

Wooden Camera

CineLab

Technodolly

Tai Audio

Visual Products

Ritter Battery

Opal

Willys Widgets

CineTape

CineLab

CineTape

Metropolis Post

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Aerial Filmworks

rebotnix Technologies

Paralinx LLC

Glidecam

Rig Wheels Passport

Abel Cine

FJS International, LLC

Wooden Camera

Ritter Battery

Opal

Visual Products

Technodolly

Tai Audio

The Slider

Willys Widgets

Gamma Ray Digital Inc