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Motion Control/ Jib/ Crane Op


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#1 Diana Fox

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 03:13 PM

Yes, I know there are quite a few of these 'how do you become a...' but I've never seen anything specially directed towards motion control/ crane operating. I don't even know what department it would be part of since I've seen most postings about jib etc in the gripping forum but then again they do control the camera - sort of.

So, it seems one should know a lot about cameras, but thats what the camera op does. or should I first go more into grip work...? to be even more specific I'd like to study motion control which can lead to FX so ...should that be yet another dept. to study?

and should I start with just a jib company then work up to bigger cranes and motion control...

What union do most mc operators/ jib guys/girls belong to? I suppose since most work for a company they can get in slightly faster? this the one specific occupation I've found very very little info about getting into. any advice would be much appreciated - I do plan on eventually interning for a dolly/grip/crane company. (apart from the PA work I've been doing)

Lastly, as a woman, im slightly worried about not being hired when im 50 it doesn't seem as strenuous labor wise as being a grip. i figure i could always rent out equipment when im older hmm.. easier said then done. anyone know of any female mc operators?

Sorry way too long...
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#2 Darryl Richard Humber

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 07:48 PM

Crane ops are in the Grip Dept. Generally the Dolly Grip also operates the cranes.
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#3 Russell Smith

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 12:36 AM

Yes, I know there are quite a few of these 'how do you become a...' but I've never seen anything specially directed towards motion control/ crane operating. I don't even know what department it would be part of since I've seen most postings about jib etc in the gripping forum but then again they do control the camera - sort of.

So, it seems one should know a lot about cameras, but thats what the camera op does. or should I first go more into grip work...? to be even more specific I'd like to study motion control which can lead to FX so ...should that be yet another dept. to study?

and should I start with just a jib company then work up to bigger cranes and motion control...

What union do most mc operators/ jib guys/girls belong to? I suppose since most work for a company they can get in slightly faster? this the one specific occupation I've found very very little info about getting into. any advice would be much appreciated - I do plan on eventually interning for a dolly/grip/crane company. (apart from the PA work I've been doing)

Lastly, as a woman, im slightly worried about not being hired when im 50 it doesn't seem as strenuous labor wise as being a grip. i figure i could always rent out equipment when im older hmm.. easier said then done. anyone know of any female mc operators?

Sorry way too long...



Diana
I actually was thinking about doing this for a living and looked a lot into it. Im based in the bay area (san francisco) and i met a crane/Jib operator who has been doing it for 20 years. ITs very similar to steady cam operating, that you kinda buy a rig (so in this case a jib such as Jimmyjib or Cammate crane) and you practice and start getting hired as an operator. The Jimmyjib for example comes with tilt, zoom and pan controls into the handle. So most jibs are a 1 man jib. When you start getting bigger cranes such as a rideable crane Panther pegasus, Picalo Giraffe or a technocrane with a powerpod head, you sometimes have 2 operators, yourself and your co-operator, one who deals with just the motion of the powerpod/motion head, and the other who operates the actually movement of the crane. if you are the powerpod operator you usually get to sit in front of the monitors with 2 crank wheels and just do pans and tilts all day. Sometimes the setup might be straining but the bigger ones usually come on wheels and the smaller jibs are usually in 4 to 6 feet pieces. One crane/jib operators website is rbthecraneguy.com and he was the one i met and chatted with about it. He is very good an knows and owns his own equipment.
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#4 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 01:43 AM

I think being a freelance owner/operator of a jib/crane is actually more physically strenuous than gripping.

I'm still relatively inexperienced with jib/crane stuff, but I've worked with the Jimmy Jib a few times (as a focus puller) and had the opportunity to help build the rig and to pick the jib op's brain a little. It does require a lot of upper body strength to transport and build the rig, as there are a lot of very heavy sections and weights that go into it. But the biggest problem is that the jib op that I worked with was pretty much responsible for setting the whole thing up himself unless there was a grip or PA standing by who could lend a hand. It's probably not the kind of job any sane person, man or woman, would want to still be doing at 50. As a freelance owner/operator, you're pretty much solely responsible for your gear.

As for gripping, I've noticed that a lot of older grips (40s-60s) work a lot smarter than the younger ones in terms of saving wear and tear on their bodies by multi-manning heavy gear, not rushing, paying young assistants to drive and load their trucks, etc. Plus they make a ton of money on grip and lighting rentals. So it's a job that can have a long future, especially if you get into the rental game and supplement your income that way.
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#5 dan brockett

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 07:55 PM

Hi Diana:

I have hired several jib operators for various projects and I own my PortaJib. Not sure how strong or physically fit you are or how hard you want to work. I think owning a jib could be a very good business, but it is a specialty. I only hire one perhaps once or twice a year for what I do. If you could get hooked in with X-Games or AVP Volleyball, that could be a good steady gig but just having one and hoping for the phone to ring would be tough.

As far as the physical, I once hire a jib and operator. We shot on the sand at Morro Bay in the winter. Because we were in deep sand dunes, the jib operator and his assistant had to carry all of the pieces of the jib out to beach, all of the ATVs were busy hauling lights and bandit. I had PAs help them but we were using a 35' jib for a very tall overhead shot of some sand sculpture builders. I felt sorry for them, it was a tough gig.

I agree with the other posters, it can be a very physically challenging job, although not all of them are. But mounting larger cameras, you would at least be a part of that. And you do need to understand quite a bit about all of the different cameras used, focus and iris systems, monitoring, controls, etc. It would be naive to think "the camera dept. will handle the camera". Not with a jib, they would work with you but you would have to make sure that all of the correct gear to move and control and monitor the camera signal were present and working.

Not trying to discourage you, it could be a good gig for you, but it's not as easy as you might think and it is a very specialized field and most producers hook up with one good person and stick with them. So it's the old story, "if you have a producer who likes you and will hire you AND does lots of jib stuff, could be a smart investment." If not, it would be tough to break into.

Dan Brockett
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#6 Tom Lowe

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 10:27 AM

The ability to set the thing up fast, break it down fast, and lug around a lot of weight plays into it, as well as being talented at operating the thing. I think it sounds like a fun job, because you can get such neat shots with those types of moco cranes. But it's physically and technically demanding, for sure.
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#7 Diana Fox

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 02:07 AM

Thanks everyone for the inside info. It was all very helpful very helpful and now my mind has sort of changed. I think I'd just like to learn about everything in the grip/electric dept. for now, before I go choosing something to specialize in. I guess I really want to be able to switch positions, mix it up a bit from time to time. (positions within the same dept. though)

Thank You!
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