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#1 AndrewDale

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 01:30 PM

Hello All,

I recently scored a job as a first AC for a documentary that is shooting on 35mm film. I was wondering if you had any suggestions on materials that I could include in my 1st AC kit. What I have in there already is as follows.

Orangewood Sticks
Lens Cleaner
Lens Tissues
Microfiber Lens Cloth
Canned air (with very helpful long nozzle)
Measuring Tape
Dry erase Markers
Pencils
Pens
Camera Tape
Paper Tape
Gaffers Tape (for cans of film?)
Pen Light

I cant help but feel as if I am missing some things and this is my first job, so I want to be as prepared as possible. Any other suggestions on what I might want to include in the kit would be very appreciated. Thank you.

Drew Dale
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#2 David Rakoczy

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 02:34 PM

You won't need Gaff Tape for Film cans... you'll use 1 inch Black Camera Tape for exposed canned rolls. Forgive my asking... but have you AC'd before? Ever work as a Loader? 2nd AC?... and now to the point.. ever Pull focus? Pulling on Docs can be a hell of a task even for the most experienced ACs... even guys like Greg who have seen and done it all...

The pencils will need to be wax. You (shouldn't) need to bring your own Paper Tape. A magnifying glass is always handy... but most of all.. If you are the first, bring a great 2nd AC!
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#3 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 02:52 PM

but most of all.. If you are the first, bring a great 2nd AC!



Amen!!
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#4 David Rakoczy

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 03:14 PM

I usually preach 'fake it till you make it' to encourage people to take chances.. a just get out there and do it attitude because there will always be a 'first time' for everything... But I must confess, 1st ACing is NOT one you can do that with. It is far easier to DP a gig with little experience than 1st AC. Some may quibble with that statement but as far as I am concerned, being a cinematographer, I assure you it is true. With Focus you are either 'spot on'.. or off! There is no 'we'll fix it in post' with Pulling. To me it is the hardest, most demanding job on the Set... just Pulling alone... not to mention all the rest you are expected to support. If the DP is worth his salt, he/she will be constantly challenging you with longer lenses and lesser foot candles :o ... and the talent is going to waltz all over the place...
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#5 Chris Keth

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 04:51 PM

Like David, I'm all for people taking (calculated) chances when they get an opportunity but do you really think it's responsible of you to take this job? There is a good chance that you mess up a good bit of film and cost them a lot of money. If your answer is yes then go for it but I just want you to think about it in those terms.
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#6 David Rakoczy

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 07:27 PM

Andrew,

Again please forgive us. We want to see you succeed. We REALLY do! But if you have to ask what to bring to 1st AC a gig... you are by no means ready... and if you are not somewhat 'seasoned' at Pulling Focus... you will crash and burn and take all the footage with you... meaning, you will probably work until the first days dailies arrive.
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#7 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 01:59 AM

... But I must confess, 1st ACing is NOT one you can do that with. It is far easier to DP a gig with little experience than 1st AC.


Not ENTIRELY true. I've worked with people who have never 2nd'd or 1st'd, and they've jumped in for me to 1st and have done a great job. And it may be easy to BE a DP for the first time with little experience, but to do it well is another thing...just like 1st'ing.

I was kind of thrown into 1st'ing without any real prior AC'ing experience. There are downfalls, but I must say, you learn FAST that way. Before I knew it, pulling focus was something exciting for me, and once I found my rhythm thru "baptism by fire", I really loved it.

It really depends on the DP you're starting out with, how patient they are and how good they are at teaching. I was lucky that one DP I worked with saw in me some potential, trustworthiness and genuine desire to learn, and he gave me some great opportunities.
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#8 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 02:55 AM

I guess it a lot depends on the expectations of this particular job. If this is a no-budget or low-budget type project and you've made it clear to the producers and the DP that you don't have any 1st AC experience, and they still want to hire you then I guess you might be alright. You are taking a huge career risk though. Producers and your fellow crew members have long memories, and screwing up the footage of a production by lying your way into a position that you cannot handle will ultimately come back to haunt you. You may eventually find that your name has been passed around the production circles in your area and that no one will want to hire you again.

Now, I'm NOT saying that this will happen in your case since I don't know you or the particulars of the job, but just be aware that this DOES happen all the time in the film production world. Remember, YOUR NAME IS YOUR REPUTATION in this business, so protect it by always being honest about your experience level, even if it means taking a lower position or lower pay at first. Trust me, people will welcome you on their crews if you're humble, able to listen, and eager to learn even if you don't know much yet. The one thing people hate in this business is someone who behaves as if they know more than they actually do and have an attitude about it.

Ordinarily, as a 1st AC you would immediately find out what camera equipment production wants to use, where they're renting it, and make sure you're 100% familiar with all the gear. You'd go to the rental house at least a week before the shoot, introduce yourself, familiarize yourself with all the gear, make sure it's all in working condition. Also, make sure you have reliable backups - extra batteries, extra magazines, an extra camera body, etc. Find out if what kind of specialized equipment they need for the shoot (steadicam, crane/jib, remote head, etc.) and make sure they are getting all the gear they need to make sure everything will work. For example, for steadicam shooting production would also need to rent a wireless follow focus system and probably a wireless video monitoring system, which may or may not be part of the steadicam op's package. You would ensure that everything that is needed is part of the package.

You also would recommend a 2nd AC and a loader to production so they can be hired (or sometimes the 2nd will also be the loader). Most of the kit that you mentioned would belong to the 2nd AC (in fact, almost all of it is expendables so ideally you would make an expendables list and give it to production so that it can be approved and purchased by them for the shoot). Your 2nd or loader would certainly need a changing tent or bag if no camera truck with a darkroom is provided. Also, a slate, though these items may be rented from the camera house as well.

I would highly recommend that you pick up and read the books "The Camera Assistant" by Doug Hart and/or "The Camera Assistant's Manual" by David Elkins as a starting point. These will give you a very good overview of the job you're expected to do, what kind of gear you'll need, etc.

Good luck!
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#9 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 03:57 AM

"The Camera Assistant's Manual" by David Elkins as a starting point


Even for an experienced AC, Elkins' book is a good refresher. I catch things in his book that I hadn't noticed the first time through, because I had no practical knowledge of what he was talking about, ha ha
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#10 Delorme Jean-Marie

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 08:28 AM

hi
what is the doc about, it what field will you be working?
a 35 cam is maybe 2 or 3 time more gear to move than a S16
i did shows in imax by my own and other with 3 people with me.
it depend on the location, number of shots and moves per day ect....

an advice take 2 assistant bags, one full of things you never use, in the truck and one almost empty with you
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#11 Serge Teulon

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 09:23 AM

......You are taking a huge career risk though. Producers and your fellow crew members have long memories, and screwing up the footage of a production by lying your way into a position that you cannot handle will ultimately come back to haunt you. You may eventually find that your name has been passed around the production circles in your area and that no one will want to hire you again.


Hold on a minute....

The guy asked for some advice on equipment and suddenly there is a lot of insinuation being thrown around.
He hasn't even answered any questions......give him a chance.

Also, has anybody who posted ever screw up when taking on a new role?
I certainly have and that hasn't stopped me progressing in my work.

You learn more from your mistakes than your successes.

Edited by Serge Teulon, 23 February 2009 - 09:27 AM.

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#12 Jose Figueroa Baez

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 01:48 PM

There are downfalls, but I must say, you learn FAST that way. Before I knew it, pulling focus was something exciting for me, and once I found my rhythm thru "baptism by fire", I really loved it.


This is totally true. I was pulling focus on my first S16 project at school and had this super dificult shot pulling in from about 9ft to about 10 inches off the actress's face. I must have done that shot 45 times, we took it 3 times out of those, but these "trials by fire" do come in handy in honing ur skills. If you think you are ready, go for it, but if yout think you need some more practice, you should really think about what you throw yourself into.

Best of luck.
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#13 Daniel Smith

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Posted 24 February 2009 - 07:13 PM

Sorry to butt in here, but I just wondered what use Orangewood Sticks would be? And when you say, paper tape, is that the same thing as masking tape?

I'm not questioning why you would need I've just never seen of heard any use of orangewood sticks.
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#14 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 24 February 2009 - 07:46 PM

Sorry to butt in here, but I just wondered what use Orangewood Sticks would be? And when you say, paper tape, is that the same thing as masking tape?

They're for cleaning the camera gate after a good take. You remove the lens, rotate the mirror shutter out of the way, and scrape the edges of the gate with the stick to remove emulsion or hairs. We use orangewood because it's a soft wood and won't scratch the metal gate.

Paper tape is basically 1" masking tape, usually matte, and comes in a variety of colors. It's used for laying down marks for actors, dolly, etc.

Serge, I was trying to explain to the original poster why David and Chris were preaching responsibility and to give him a bigger overview of what could happen. I specifically said that I don't know him or the particulars of the job he was offered so I am not judging him, or attacking him, or saying that he will ruin his career, only that it COULD happen (because it HAS happened before) and that he should be very cautious if he wants to work a long time in the business.

I agree, you learn more from your mistakes than from your successes, but you have to weigh the risks of those mistakes against the possible benefit. If it's your own project, then fine do whatever you want. But if you're getting paid on someone else's shoot, then you really have to be careful not to shoot yourself in the foot. I look at it as self-protection, covering your ass, really. Ultimately, I hope the OP has a great experience, learns a lot, and gets a career start out of it. To do that, he should know the pitfalls that lay under his feet.
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#15 AndrewDale

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Posted 24 February 2009 - 11:27 PM

Wow, I never expected such a large response to this post. Thank you all for your input, and let me take a moment to address a few things.

First off, I have been out of town for a while without internet, which is why I haven't had a chance to check back on this post and respond to the questions and queries put forth.

Secondly, I need to correct my original post. It turns out that I had misunderstood the job and I will in fact be working as the 2nd AC, not the first AC, which, although quite fine, does change things up a bit.

Now, there seem to be a lot of questions going through about whether I've worked as an AC before, and I should have clarified that this is my first PAID AC job. I am still in film school and as such I have worked on at least 7 or 8 short films and other projects ranging from the student level to semi professional as both a 1st AC and a 2nd AC. I do know how to pull focus without killing a shot :P I learned the hard way a couple of times with some bad pulls, but for the most part, I like to think that I have a pretty OK grasp on the mechanics behind it, and while I am obviously still working on my craft, I do have confidence that I would be able to pull this job off without too much of a hitch.

Also, this is a documentary, and the portions of the doc that will be shooting in 35mm are actually re-enactments of a sort in order to demonstrate certain aspects of cinematography for students and as such, the pulling will be much more akin to a feature than run and gun. The actors will have marks and there will be repeated takes, things of that nature.

Now, regarding my original request. I have a kit that I use when I work as an AC. What I was asking for was anything that someone might suggest that I had not thought of previously, some item that you had found particularly useful in situations as a 2nd or 1st AC. I always get the feeling that I'm missing something out of my kit and I just wanted to sort of double check with more experienced people to make sure that I had indeed included the necessary items. This particular job is paying fairly well, considering, and I just want to make sure that I am fully prepared.

One last thing. This particular project is being directed by one of my professors and is directed at students. Its an educational documentary and one of the things that he insisted on in the beginning is that it also be populated by students, in order to create a learning environment on set as well as in the film itself. As such, he knows full well the level of experience that he is getting and I have not at any point tried to overstate my abilities. I really appreciate the concern and suggestions to always be honest and forthright in ones professional dealings and I am always very conscious of how I am representing myself to any potential employer. As you said, people in this industry have long memories and it is one of my more important priorities to maintain good working relationships with as many people as I can. I always like a good challenge, but its good to be aware of your own limitations as well.


Now

That aside.

Do you guys have any good suggestions on any little pieces of equipment that I could use in my 2ND AC kit that I hadn't already mentioned or anything weird piece that you have found useful over the years?

Thanks for all the help

Drew Dale
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#16 Hercules Fu

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Posted 25 February 2009 - 12:55 AM

I think for a 2nd AC, the most important tool you miss is a pair of leatherman multi-tools;)
It helps me greatly no matter i work as 1st or 2nd or even Camera operator;)
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#17 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 25 February 2009 - 03:15 AM

Cool, thanks for clarifying the situation Andrew. Sounds like you'll do fine. Like I said before, I think you need a changing tent and slate. Find out what stocks they're shooting so you know what color camera tape to bring. Coordinate with the 1st AC, since he or she might have that stuff already.

Here's what my general AC kit consists of:

- Cooler containing cans, cores, bags, camera tape, mag label tape, changing tent
- hex keys (metric and standard)
- jeweler's screwdrivers of various sizes
- foam q-tips
- bottle of rubbing alcohol
- 2" velcro
- kimwipes
- Kodak grey card plus
- Macbeth Colorchecker chart
- Siemens star chart (print it out yourself - http://www.panavisio...ion/Charts.htm)
- binder with camera reports, inventory forms, manuals, DoF charts
- small clipboard for reports
- extra ball point pens, sharpies, lumocolor pens, slate pens, mini stapler
- 1" P-touch label maker (Black on White tape, for slate and cases)
- 1/2" P-touch for insert slate
- 25' BNC cable
- assorted BNC barrels and connectors
- bongo ties
- eye chamois
- sausage markers
- insert slate
- cube tap
- A clamps
- extra batteries (CR123, AA, AAA)
- space blanket (for camera cover)
- neck strap with key ring for wireless FF
- Samcine Mk 3. DoF chart
- green laser pointer/mini cardellini clamp
- Disto rangefinder
- backup lightmeter (calibrated)
- magliner senior

And here's what I carry on my belt:
- 16' fatmax steel tape
- leatherman
- air can with nozzle
- tape roll: 2" matte black paper tape, 1" neon colored paper tape (for marks)
- AC pouch: flashlight, slate pen, ball point, sharpie, lumocolor, 50' soft tape, small scissors, stubbie screwdriver, magnifier w/ light, lens fluid

If I were shooting in cold weather, I'd add hand warmers and insulated bags for batteries.
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#18 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 25 February 2009 - 11:53 AM

The only thing that I would add is that all of the listed "expendables" (ie. tape, markers, Q-tips, etc.) should be purchased by the production. This expense should not come out of your pocket at all.

Best,
Greg
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#19 Brian Nelligan

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Posted 11 March 2009 - 11:09 PM

And here's what I carry on my belt:
- air can with nozzle


Thanks for posting your gear, it's very similar to what I carry. I am curious though how you attach your canned air to your belt. I've been meaning to come up with something so I'm not always reaching for my bag.

Thanks,
Brian
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#20 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 11 March 2009 - 11:24 PM

Brian, I believe Set-ware makes a holder for dust-off type cans. . . (checking film tools). . . Actually just found a cinebags

http://www.filmtools...caairorwab.html
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