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#1 E Mantle

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 07:55 AM

I have a narrow corridor - about 2 feet wide - with a right angle at one end that I need to track around and then down.

Both camera and operator need to be mounted on it, preferably with room for the focus puller What are the best options for such a small amount of space?


On a side note, though perhaps for a different forum page - what about lighting? There are no windows in the corridor itself though in the rooms at each end there are large bay windows, Room 1 facing South, Room 2 facing North. Having said that however, the scene is set in the early evening.
The corridor has a very high ceiling for the most part though around the doors at either end, naturally comes down sharply. But normally its about 10ft high. I.e. space for extender grips to be mounted and lights rigged from them? There is also a small alcove on the left just as you turn right in the corridor. It is only about 2 feet wide and 8 inches deep...


Definitely can't steadicam it as I need the camera to be in a fixed position before entry into the corridor and again afterwards.


A really bad ASCII diagram would (hopefully, depending on how it is formatted on the forum page!!) look something like this:

____________
.....................l
.....................l
.....................l
.....................l
ROOM 2..........l
......_________l
l.....l
l.....l
l.....l
l.....l
l.....l
l.....l
l.....l
l.....l
l.....l
l.....l_________
l....._____........l________
l___l..............................l
.....................................l
.ROOM 1.........................l
......................................l
......................................l
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______________________l



Basically the camera needs to follow the subject from Room 1 to Room 2. It's the corners I'm concerned about...

Suggestions?

Thanks all.

Ed
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#2 robert duke

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 11:26 AM

How is the floor? If the floor is smooth I would say treat it like a dance floor move and use a Fischer 11. Otherwise you may have to construct a small dolly like a skateboard.

You dont say how long the corridor is. The worry about seeing the track on an extented move. You may have to use one of the flexible track products.

I would look into the fischer first it has a width of around 21" in narrow mode. this is where the Fischer is better than the Chapman. the Chapman will rotate over a long move bunging up the wall.

You may even have to construct a narrow gauge dolly, I think Otto at solid grip systems might be able to help you.
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#3 Warwick Hempleman

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 12:28 PM

I'd say the focus puller is just going to have to walk behind whatever the camera's on and use a remote, it sounds like the corridor will be too tight for him to ride, especially around that corner.

Also, do you need to look in to Room 1, or can you cheat that corner?

Robert, thanks for the Fisher plug, the next round's on me. :)

Onno's overhead system would be nice, but it's a big build and you'll really have to watch your blocking to not see it at the long end of the corridor. Same as seeing the track on the floor.
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#4 E Mantle

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 05:06 AM

Hi Robert, Hi Warwick,

Thanks for getting back to me.

Robert first, the floor is wood in the first room, carpet in the corridor, wood in the second room.


In terms of corridor length, it's about 20-5 feet long, however the camera is going to be quite low (looking up) so as long as I'm careful with my blocking there isn't too much of a worry about getting things in frame that shouldn't be.

I was actually at a friends shoot yesterday and coincidentally they had rented a model 11 so I had a play with it in the down time. It may well be an option.

Construction is also another good possibility. I've made numerous set ups in the past for specific shoots and we're not filming till March so I've got time to experiment.

I've just been taking a look at the SGS website so that's something else to consider..

Warwick, regarding the focus puller - a remote might be an option. My concern at this stage is running up more and more costs... I'm trying to keep the distance between the subject and lens as close to finite as possible...

I do indeed need to look into Room 1. The first part of the action takes place there facing the wall to the right of the corridor. Then the camera pans and tracks the subject into the second room where more action occurs.

Regarding any overhead grip there's A - no way the budget will stretch and B - no way it'd fit if we're lighting what is essentially a dark corridor as well unfortunately - though I agree - it would look lovely.

Thanks to both of you for your input though.

What about the Spyder? I've neither used nor seen one in person. Sizes? From photographs it looks like it could be useful..

Best,

Ed
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#5 Warwick Hempleman

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 11:17 AM

Ed,

The Elemack Spyder will track poorly if you're not on rails, but it sounds like you'll need track with all those different surfaces. The Spyder is similar to a Panther in terms of footprint and geometry. The column height can be varied, but can't be moved during a shot. The curves coming out of Room 1 will be difficult to manage. Depending on how far that door is from the hall, you may want to try using a short jib arm or Ubangi / Slider to get the view into the room. Fisher and Losmandy, among others, make some very tight radius curves that might help as well, and you'll need good skateboard wheels then to handle the curve radius.

Are you leading or following the actor?
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#6 Sanjay Sami

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 12:29 AM

[quote name='Ed Mantle' date='Jan 28 2009, 07:25 PM' post='270392']
I have a narrow corridor - about 2 feet wide - with a right angle at one end that I need to track around and then down.


Hi Ed,
First things first. You will not be able to get dolly track into a 2 ft wide corridor. The track will be wider than your corridor. If you scissor your track to make it narrower, you will not be able to join curved track to it in order to get around the 90degree turn. How much distance do you need to cover to get around the corner? what width do you have to play with before you take the 90 degree turn into the 2ft wide corridor? My instinct would be to build dancefloor (if you are not seeing the floor) and do it on rubbers. It will be a really tricky shot, since the corridor is only marginally wider than the dolly. If you are going at any kind of speed, and the Dolly rotates a bit you are in trouble. Stay far away from an Elemack, Panther or Magnum for this kind of shot. You may well need Roundy steering to make the turn, which narrows your options to the Fisher11 or the PeeWee Mark 4. The dollies will have to be in narrow mode with no platforms. Make your operator as comfy as possible, and give the focus puller a remote. There is no way he can ride.

Most important ..... Get the best Dolly Grip you can lay your hands on :D

Best of luck

Sanjay Sami
www.thegripworks.com
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#7 Warwick Hempleman

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 04:00 AM

Sanjay is of course right about a true 24" hallway - don't know why I kept missing that. The Filou dolly would work, or at any rate the narrow gauge track made for it, which does have curves. There are still a few of those around gathering dust in rental houses. Sanjay's right about everything else, for that matter. Being in round and tracking that at any speed above a very slow walk will be a hit or miss thing.

24" is tight - I could barely walk through there. How small are the doorways??
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#8 E Mantle

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 05:38 AM

Hi again Warwick, Hi Sanjay.

I'll answer the replies in order again.

Warwicks first reply:
Yeah, actually after I read that I did a bit of research about the Spyder and that goes along with what I learnt. I was thinking perhaps the flexitrack might be an option - I.e. with a set up like this:

http://www.porta-jib.../spider2-lg.jpg

But now after reading the other two responses I'm not so sure...

Incidentally I'm following the actor.


Sanjay,
You're absolutely right about scissoring and not being able to fit curved track to it. Rookie error on my part. But I guess that's why I'm asking for advice here!

Regarding dimensions and direction..

Basically the camera follows the subject from a big room - facing the wall opposite the doorway to the corridor. We track through the door turning immediately left into the first part of the corridor (slightly wider than the 2 feet central section) - travel for about 3 feet - turn 90 degrees right (as we turn right there is a distinct narrowing where there used to be a wall which was knocked through. This is where it turns to 2 feet wide. There is however a slight alcove built in on the left at the right angle.) After turning right we follow the corridor in a straight, horribly narrow line for about 20 feet then we come into a sort of landing area which is much wider - maybe 6 square metres - we'll go almost straight across it (slightly to the left) and hrough the doors into Room 2.
One thing to note that I have completely neglected so far (not to add further to this nightmare scenario!) is that there is a step leading down from the narrow straight corridor to the landing area. It's a single step about 6 inches high which I had planned simply to build a long ramp down leading straight into Room 2.

Regarding getting the best grip to work for us... Well. I can only try. Although it is for a music promo so budgets are tight as I've mentioned.

Warwicks second reply:

Narrow gauge is looking possible but again I'm concerned that it will turn into a budget nightmare. We're filming in London so if I find some track for the Filou in New York for example.... Well you can see how it'd just turn into a nightmare - shipping - dates/schedules etc.

Luckily we're not planning on going at any sort of speed which will undoubtedly help stability - though having said that any bumps will surely be exaggerated due to the fluidity of the rest of it..

You're right - 24" is VERY tight. I hate this damn corridor!
The doorways are a little wider but they come onto a side wall at each end so it doesn't look too unusual. Maybe 30". They are however quite low. I'm 6'3" and I hit my forehead regularly... I'd say they're 6ft high.

....................

I'm giving genuine thought to just going handheld for the whole damn shoot but the concept is there will be a cut in Room 1 and 2 on a static shot so we can reorganise the set and then record again seamlessly as though we were in a different room - but perhaps a steadicam or equivalent might allow us to do some sort of shakycam jump cut which we could morph in post?


We shall see...

Anyway - thank you both for your input.

Best,

Ed.
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#9 Warwick Hempleman

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 06:51 AM

Ed,

Thanks for the replies. The Filou will be available in London - try Panavison, ARRI, Take 2, Movie Tech and there are several more suppliers of course. The ramp won't work - you can't change the angle of your track midway. Just elevate it and keep it level straight through.

Having said all this, Hand / Steadicam may be your fastest cheapest way to go. All those curves make it a tight tight squeze for track in any form.

When's the shoot? The BSC has their annual ge together and Equipment show March 13th-14th at Elstree.
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#10 E Mantle

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 07:37 AM

Hi Warwick,

I'll have a chat to a few of the London suppliers and see what they say about the Filou..
If I elevate the track from the step in the landing then I'd need to elevate it all the way into the second room which is where the scene will be cut - the set re-arranged, then we'll roll again for another tracking shot (much simpler one this time![it leads from the centre of room 2 to the garden - no steps/ramps/narrow corridors!!]). My issue with this is continuity. If I cut to a rearranged room then surely the camera will be 8 inches higher. Unless of course I raise the camera support after the cut instead of raising the entire track? Though to have a seamless cut will require a lot of very careful measuring..

Thanks for the reply and also for the heads up on the BSC show - I've just registered for tickets. (The shoot is the week beginning 30th of March)

Best,

Ed

Edited by Ed Mantle, 30 January 2009 - 07:39 AM.

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#11 Sanjay Sami

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 09:38 AM

HI Ed,
Your shot sounds increasingly like a steadicam shot. Either that or rig overhead track through the whole thing. My advice really would be to take a really good grip to your location and get an analysis. I can recommend John Flemming. He is based in London (well actually very close to Pinewood) and has got to be one of the finest Grips I have ever had the pleasure to meet. If you mail me off list I can give you his phone number. I think it might be the simplest (and maybe cheapest !) solution to get an experienced grip to physically take a look and make a reccomendation.

Cheers

Sanjay Sami
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#12 Onno Perdijk

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 02:51 PM

Okay Ed,

You have reached the grip-ultimate-challenge: Not going steadycam, not going handheld, not able to have a dancefloor-move. Narrow area, a small step down, (if I understood correctly a locked-of start and stop, 180 degrees pan, 90 degrees narrow curve. Perfect ingredients for a nightmare.

a) overhead tracking shot: Will be difficult to find a brand which makes the requested curve in an overhead. Because of the narrow corridor it needs to turn on a very short "footprint".

NOTES 1: the actor you are following will be masked by the corner for a while before the chasing camera is in the curve, getting into the longer corridor.
NOTES 2: As the manufacturer of the TrussDollySystem I do not make any curved trusses (yet). Besides the difficulties of bending the tracks there are also some hickups with the motorisation of it.
NOTES 3: If I understood correctly you will also need to make a pan. Where is pan going to take place? In the start of the shot or in the corner????

B) Running on tracks would be perfect; except the narrow gauge and the 90 degree turn makes it hardly impossible to find a track which could fit (as mentioned before) Besides that I do have my doubt weather a long and small dolly could make this turn, either running or tracks or on the dancefloor, without hitting the walls on either side....

c) One option I am thinking of is difficult to explain but I will do my utmost. With a lot of DIY you can make a guiderunner the walls, like the handrail at steps, at normal height, using available tracks where there is a curved rail available in the requested diameter. I have made a quick drawing. Make sure the gauge is everywhere the same.

d) My other option (not my last) is to nail down some gardenhose which is wider than normal (say 40mm, with extreme thick walls. Get some dollywheel from Willy's, more specific: his "coolwheels" and make yourself a small short scateboard-dolly....


So far for now. It will be on my mind this weekend.

Good Luck,

Onno Perdijk
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#13 Onno Perdijk

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 02:58 PM

Hello Ed,

While I was typing my previous reply, interuppted by a diner, some more post came in...

Steadycam and landing on some appleboxes could be the trick as well...

I will be exhibiting my equipment at BSC2009 as well. Please drop by at my booth.

Onno
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#14 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 08:39 PM

Steadi-cam. A good operator should be able to hold a still frame.
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#15 Darryl Richard Humber

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 02:36 AM

My friends Onno and Sanjay are correct. A good key grip can scout the site and give you the best answer to this problem. That's what they do. The time and money you spend fabricating something might pay for a good steadicam op. Onno, your idea about the handrail type tracks is one of my favorite things. I've done it in a couple of movies where dolly tracks were disguised as set dressing. It's brilliant.
D
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#16 Onno Perdijk

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 07:24 PM

Hello Ed,

Last thought coming in:

d) If your budget is tight: Get some local curtainrail (heavy duty like they also use for lorry-sails). Make it a double railing. It is easy to get it bended in the right radius. Rig a small platform to the runners. Suspend the camera by cabling in the right angle which is needed for your end framing. for dollying you pull the top plate by a rope or gobo-arm. Sure worth some testing.

Good luck,

Onno
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#17 E Mantle

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 05:31 AM

Hey everybody,
Thanks so much for all your responses - they're all providing me with a whole host of things to consider.
Apologies also for only getting back to you now - hectic weekend away from email (Actually it was quite nice!)

Sanjay,
Yeah this is what I'm thinking. (Steadicamwise). Regarding getting a grip to come and take a look, a buddy of mine who works as one in Paris is in the country next week and said he'd come and see if he had any suggestions. I'll keep you all posted on what he has to say.


Onno,
Ha! I feel honoured to have reached said challenge! You're right - it does feel like the perfect ingredients for a nightmare! You're also right regarding everything except the 180 degree pan - it's closer to 120 but still!

A) Overhead. Yep. Already I've spent a lot of time this week calling places about overheads with such short curves and have had no luck.

The pan is going to take place at the start of the shot. The camera is basically facing a wall and pans 120 degrees or thereabouts to the subject which then proceeds to move into the corridor - the camera following on behind.

I'm also a bit suspicious as to whether a dolly would be able to take the corner without the walls but I'm going to take some time this week to be sure by getting some absolutely precise measurements.

c) Thanks for the diagram. I think I know what you mean and I'll certainly mention it to my grip friend next week and see if we can come up with something.

D)The garden hose option might work. I'm a little concerned about how steady it'd be but frankly in this situation I can't afford to be choosy!

I'll certainly try to find your booth at BSC09 and say hello. Perhaps with diagrams!



Jon,
I think you're probably right... I've simultaneously been scouting a few ops and dry/wet hire companies this week so I'll give it some more thought after next week when Paul (the grip in question) gets a chance to take a look.



Darryl,
Yep, as mentioned my friend Paul is going to take a look which will no doubt pay dividends. I'll also mention to him, along with all the other suggestions, Onno's thought on handrail type tracks.


Onno,
I like the concept of the heavy duty curtainrail but if you mean suspending it from the ceiling then unfortunately I don't think it's going to work. The ceiling is very high in parts which will mean by the time the camera is at the right level - about 2 and half/3 feet off the ground - there will be too great a potential.
Add to this the fact that the roof of the corridor comes down suddenly where there are stairs in the apartments above and it just becomes impossible.
On the other hand doing it from the ground up might well be an option. Similar in terms of your earlier suggestion of garden hose but perhaps a little smoother?

Anyway.

I'll have a think and again I shall let you all know how Paul and I get on next week - I think he's in London from the 10th.

Thanks once again for all the input. Invaluable.

All the best,

Ed
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#18 Tim Fabrizio

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 01:29 PM

STEADICAM. DONE!
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#19 Sanjay Sami

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 01:11 PM

Hi Ed ,
If you are still looking. This maybe an option. Based in the UK, but maybe a little expensive.
Overhead track, does tight curves, fully programmable.


http://www.powerpod....od100_intro.php

Hope that helps.

Sanjay Sami
www.thegripworks.com
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#20 E Mantle

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 04:15 AM

Hi all.

A bit of an update/conclusion to this thread...

We filmed over the weekend after the most physically demanding week I've had in a long time. Drilling, sawing, painting, more drilling, more sawing.
The plan we finished with (with more than a little input from this forums users!) was to create a platform which extended from the step-down in the corridor all across the kitchen to the back door. We then made two platform dollies from scratch with custom rails made from PVC tubing that had been heated together and sanded smooth.
In terms of navigating the corners - we fitted a moveable axle onto two opposite corners of the dolly so that when turning it would always have contact with the rails. It required one person to push from low down behind. The camera was mounted on the second dolly and positioned at a low enough angle that we wouldn't see either the track or the person pushing the subjects dolly.

It was a little bumpy in spots but overall it achieved a great effect and we're really happy with the rushes.

I'll post a link once it's edited and graded.

Thanks again for all your advice

Very best,

Ed Mantle,
Exhausted camera op.
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