Jump to content


Photo

Cinematographer without too much knowledge in electricity


  • Please log in to reply
4 replies to this topic

#1 Ronald Carrion

Ronald Carrion
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 40 posts
  • Student
  • Los Angeles, CA

Posted 15 June 2010 - 04:52 AM

Is it possible to become a cinematographer without knowing much about electricity?
I am really good and experienced at camera operation but not really experienced in lighting and electricity. Can I still be considered a cinematographer? I think that a gaffer can do that job for me. I could direct the lights but he would do the rest. I like to concentrate in the camera.
What do you think?
  • 0

#2 Adrian Sierkowski

Adrian Sierkowski
  • Sustaining Members
  • 7118 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, Ca

Posted 15 June 2010 - 09:10 AM

That's how it'd normally go. That being said, there will be times when you may be gaffer-less, and in such instances it is important to know a little bit about electricity. I recommend really knowing W=VA, or Watts=Volts x Amps, so as not to blow any breakers. Basically, for every 1K of watts you plug in you are pulling 10 amps of power @ 100 volts (120 being the standard in the US for household power, but we use 100 to make the math simpler and also to give a cushion, this is called paper amps). So, if you're in a location with a 15 amp breaker, you can plug in 1500 watts of power (this only works for tungsten lighting, as anything with a ballast pulls more than you'd think due to inefficiencies in the ballast.) It'll keep you out of some trouble. Also, remember, power (volts) decreases the longer you run your cable due to resistivity, so you need thicker cables the longer you run 'em. Also don't overrate your cables, they're rated in amps, e.g. don't put a 2K on a stinger only rated for 15 amps!

But for the most part, your gaffer and electrics will be the ones taking care of this and you do get to just focus on the camera and where to put the lights. There are some gaffers whom I trust enough to just say "give me a little warm kiss in that corner" without saying how to do it, and others where I'll tell them very specifically, throw a 2K out the window with 1/4 cto on it and give me 1/2 spot.
  • 0

#3 JD Hartman

JD Hartman
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1690 posts
  • Gaffer
  • Edison, N.J. U.S.A.

Posted 15 June 2010 - 10:54 AM

I prefer Cinematographers who don't think they are Gaffers or Electricians and try to "second guess" me when it comes to power requirements. No offense intended Adrian.
It's refreshing to work with a Cinematographer or DP who describes the look they wish to achieve with "broad strokes" and allows the Gaffer to exhibit a little creativity in his implementation. When its "roughed in", we'll can tweak it together.
Typical stinger used on the set is 12 gauge and is rated at 20 amperes.
  • 0

#4 Adrian Sierkowski

Adrian Sierkowski
  • Sustaining Members
  • 7118 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, Ca

Posted 15 June 2010 - 11:00 AM

Believe me, JD, none taken! Given the option I'd much prefer a gaffer whom I don't need to be specific with; though I still feel a basic grounding is very important when one is on one's own (such as quick interviews or other low-er paid/budget projects).
  • 0

#5 Karel Bata

Karel Bata
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 487 posts
  • Director
  • London - a rather posh bit

Posted 15 June 2010 - 11:18 AM

Ronald, you might find this interesting reading: As others see you It's a bit old, but still relevant.

I went from being an electrician to lighting and found my former experience invaluable. Can't imagine doing it otherwise. If you anticipate always being on a shoot with a proper gaffer or electrician then you don't need to know too much about electricity. But that means you never anticipate doing small shoots where you plug in the lights yourself..? :huh: Really, someone handling lights should know enough to not be a safety hazard to himself and everyone else.
  • 0


Ritter Battery

Visual Products

Wooden Camera

rebotnix Technologies

The Slider

FJS International, LLC

Abel Cine

Paralinx LLC

Aerial Filmworks

CineTape

CineLab

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Metropolis Post

Technodolly

Willys Widgets

Rig Wheels Passport

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Tai Audio

Opal

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Glidecam

Visual Products

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Wooden Camera

rebotnix Technologies

Opal

Aerial Filmworks

Glidecam

Abel Cine

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Tai Audio

The Slider

Technodolly

Paralinx LLC

Rig Wheels Passport

FJS International, LLC

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Ritter Battery

CineLab

Willys Widgets

Metropolis Post

CineTape