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Cam operators contributions


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#1 David Edward Keen

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Posted 25 November 2015 - 09:19 AM

Do directors and/or DPs ever consult with operators on moves or composition?

After all I imagine operators must have a very good feel for it after years of experience
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#2 Albion Hockney

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Posted 25 November 2015 - 10:02 AM

Every set is different and every DP and Director works in different ways. I would say in general, yes, they are all talking to each other - mostly the director to the dp and then the DP with the operator. Some DP's have operators frame shots or contribute creatively to handheld work - others really want specific things and tell them exactly what they want. - the same is true with other relationships like with a gaffer for example - some DP's know exactly what they want and tell the gaffer what lamps and diffusion/Flags etc they want used other DP's tell a gaffer the mood they'd like to achieve.


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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 November 2015 - 10:19 AM

If the operator is talented, you'd be crazy not to consult with them on the set-up.


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#4 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 25 November 2015 - 10:24 AM

Rumour has it that some DPs were selected because of their operator.


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#5 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 25 November 2015 - 08:51 PM

Do you think there is a trend for more DP,s doing their own operating .. Im not in the features world.. but if i was i think I would like to operate myself.. but I can see the advantages of having a good operator and using my time/anxiety ! on other things.. 


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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 25 November 2015 - 09:11 PM

I almost always wind up oping myself- though in truth i'd love to have a good op on my side more often than not-- especially in the digital world where I feel less need to look at the tiny monitors.


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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 November 2015 - 09:49 PM

I operated on all my non-union films but have had an operator on all my union jobs.  Personally, I prefer it for digital productions because the large HD monitor on set IS my dailies, and this is doubly true when you are doing a lot of two camera shooting -- I hate operating on one camera not knowing how the second one is framing everything, plus I prefer to watch both cameras on monitors to make sure they match in style, exposure, heaviness of filtration, etc.

 

I can imagine a very small intimate production set-up like Michael Winterbottom likes where the room is cleared to just the DP/operator, director, focus-puller, and boom operator.  If the goal is to create as small a footprint as possible, then I can understand the need to operate and giving up some of the control that viewing on a large monitor gives you, but what I don't want to happen is to have everyone else watching a big HD monitor except me because I'm stuck behind the camera.


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#8 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 25 November 2015 - 10:19 PM

Maybe it also depends on the style of the shoot too.. I read one of the DP,s who operates said.. he wanted to operate incase there was some happy accident .. that he would be able to go with the flow.. of course a good operator would do that too I guess..but then it would be someone else's  idea of going with the action.. but that was his reason anyway.. also one of the DP,s who comes from a doc background..

 

Obviously there are arguments for both styles.. if you can always have "your guy" who you know is on your wave length then its not a problem..  and better to be watching the nice monitor..


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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 November 2015 - 11:26 PM

Certainly it would be useful if operators were mind-readers, but that's not the case.  

 

I remember once being annoyed because we were shooting coverage in a diner out in the desert and doing a slow push-in diagonally onto the face of a scary man who might be a killer on the loose, who is menacing the cashier, and on the second take, the sun was getting so low that I realized at the moment we were all the way into the ECU, the whole image might get flared out by the sun setting right behind the killer's head, which might have been magical, one of those things that are hard to do intentionally.  Just at the moment that the dolly would have pushed close enough for the sun to hit the lens, the move stopped short and we never got flared.  So when we finally cut, I asked "what the h-- happened, you were about to get this amazing moment where the sun flared out the shot the moment the killer was the most intense!" and the operator was "well, I signaled the dolly grip to stop because I knew we were going to get flared otherwise."

 

He was trying to help, obviously, and I never told him I wanted a lens flare because I didn't realize until we were into the long take that the sun would be down the barrel at the end of the move.


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#10 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 25 November 2015 - 11:36 PM

ah sounds like a classic example .. must have been annoying.. yet the op would be thinking he was doing his job to catch the possible flare and avoid it!!.. the old joke .. whats the difference between high light and flare .. $5,000 a day.. :)

 

Anyway not a problem I have to deal with..Im always doing my own operating .. but have just bought a very nice little TV logic 5.5 inch monitor for dolly shots or low angle.. 


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#11 David Edward Keen

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Posted 26 November 2015 - 09:06 AM

and the operator was "well, I signaled the dolly grip to stop because I knew we were going to get flared otherwise"
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#12 David Edward Keen

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Posted 26 November 2015 - 09:07 AM

Oof!
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#13 Todd McMullen

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Posted 06 December 2015 - 08:02 AM

I have been rewarded or cursed, depends how feel about it, to use 3 cameras for most of the shows I have recently shot. When I have this many cameras my mindset turns into the role of a Geometer and I have to find the best angles for the light and location. So the way I like to work with my operators is to give them an area within the arena of angles and let them find something that looks interesting and will help tell the story. This approach helps me find the best light for all the cameras and it lets my operators use their own eyes for something cool. Very rarely will I do the wide and tight same angle approach, unless it is performance thing or a director request.


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