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2nd AC to 1st AC


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#1 Hans Engstrom

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 07:51 PM

Hi!
I´m working for the first time as 2nd AC on a pro shoot (in Sweden). I have previous only worked as a cinematographer on my own or my classmates studentfilms and as a coordinator on a movie that got nationwide distribution and where I also got to pull focus on some two camera shots. Now we are allmost finished with our primary shooting but we got one week in another city after we are done at this location. This is a lowbudget film but it will get nationwide distribution and a blow up is allready budgeted for. Now to my dilemma, the 1st ac have another job comming up and can´t work the last week. He talked it over with the producers and with our dp and now I have been offered to be 1st ac for the last week and they will then hire a new 2nd ac instead of a new 1st. I´m offcourse very flattered for their confidence in me but I´m also nervous. I feel comfortable with the camerapackage (sr3 advanced) and I don´t think that I will have problems with that part of the job, the part that I feel nervous about is pulling focus. Everyone involved knows that I have limited experience in pulling focus for someone else and that feels a little calming but I still don´t know if I´m ready for this yet. It would be nice to hear how other people on this board made their debute as 1st ac and I´m all open for advice in this matter. I still have a couple of days to make up my mind and I will be pulling focus on some of the easier shots this week so maybe that will help me in this decission.
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#2 Stephen Williams

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 02:57 AM

I still have a couple of days to make up my mind and I will be pulling focus on some of the easier shots this week so maybe that will help me in this decission.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Hi,

If the focus pulling is complicated at wide apetures, then you would be better to let somebody else screw up!. Speak to the DP, if he is kind and is lighting to a T4, and not hand holding following a moving subject then you have a good chance of success.

Stephen
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#3 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 07:49 AM

Focus pulling has got to be one of the most thankless jobs on set! People only notice it when you get wrong....

I never really enjoyed doing focus, and I got out of it as soon as I could, but some people really enjoy it for some reason!

Talk to the DP, let him know your concerns. find out what kind of shots he's got planned for that final week. If he's happy to let you do it, and YOU are confident then have a go. Make sure you take your time and get your focus marks right. Don't rush, but don't dawdle either. Keep those DoF charts close to hand.... If you're not confident, don't do it. fu**ing up focus in front of the entire crew can really hammer your confidence, not to mention the problems it causes.

There will always be another opportunity to step up to 1st AC. From what you've said it sounds as if you have only just started as a 2nd AC, so don't be in too much of a hurry.
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#4 oscar jimenez

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 10:17 AM

So, you'll plan to wait until 50 years to be ready? If I were you, Ill take the position and see it as a challenge, moving up in your career. Study the cam manual, have your depth of field charts. The issue is: are you willing to pay the price? Indeed, more responsabilities. Always think about what is the best thing that can possibly happen, not the worst, that will keep you in a positive track. I used to work for a very daring DP, and I can recall once few years ago, he was doing this crazy exposures and ratios shooting people, and I said to him: Pablo, are you sure about this? and he calmly said to me: So what if Im not, do you know anybody else here at this moment that can tell me if Im wrong? Would anybody else care to do this for meright know and find out if it works or not?
i'll do it if I were you, Ill take the chance. Remeber that Van Halen song "Right Now"
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#5 Tim Tyler

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 10:49 AM

Talk to the DP, let him know your concerns. find out what kind of shots he's got planned

That's very good advice.

If the DP is OK with you pulling, then you can feel confident with that support. Maybe he'll shoot everything wide at a 5.6 for you :)

A good DP knows the limitations of the tools he has to work with, and he won't make you do something you're not capable of doing well.
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#6 orgjava

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 11:09 PM

Hi!
I´m working for the first time as 2nd AC on a pro shoot (in Sweden). I have previous only worked as a cinematographer on my own or my classmates studentfilms and as a coordinator on a movie that got nationwide distribution and where I also got to pull focus on some two camera shots. Now we are allmost finished with our primary shooting but we got one week in another city after we are done at this location. This is a lowbudget film but it will get nationwide distribution and a blow up is allready budgeted for. Now to my dilemma, the 1st ac have another job comming up and can´t work the last week. He talked it over with the producers and with our dp and now I have been offered to be 1st ac for the last week and they will then hire a new 2nd ac instead of a new 1st. I´m offcourse very flattered for their confidence in me but I´m also nervous. I feel comfortable with the camerapackage (sr3 advanced) and I don´t think that I will have problems with that part of the job, the part that I feel nervous about is pulling focus. Everyone involved knows that I have limited experience in pulling focus for someone else and that feels a little calming but I still don´t know if I´m ready for this yet. It would be nice to hear how other people on this board made their debute as 1st ac and I´m all open for advice in this matter. I still have a couple of days to make up my mind and I will be pulling focus on some of the easier shots this week so maybe that will help me in this decission.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


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#7 orgjava

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 11:42 PM

hi...,a month ago i was in the situation like you...normaly i work as 2nd ac too but suddenly i've got a challenge to 1st ac..for feature films shoot on digital than blow it up to 35mm..it was use ultra prime lens T 1.9 to make more depht my dp ask to shoot always at full open aperture T1.9..i agree with all sugestion on this field, take the challenge..the first important thing is keep your own mind focus on work and be calm don't rush make your self confidence and ask your 2nd ac help you to mark the subject and the movement..and ask him to give you a sign if the subject move around by a code, there will be better if both of you use a handy talkie to make your comunication easier...,use the rehearsel to practise your focus and don't shy to ask for it..one more thing if you have a 5 inch lcd monitor put on the camera..it will help you..

good luck
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#8 fstop

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 03:00 PM

Focus pulling has got to be one of the most thankless jobs on set! People only notice it when you get wrong....

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I think it's flat out CRIMINAL how LITTLE credit focus pullers get for their hard work. I have seen lots of no budget shoots in this country where focus pullers working for free will hit all the marks camera panning, loads of action in frame at T1.8 or whatever, no reshoots required. These guys don't even get paid!!! As for recognition, their name is between the operator's and the loader's all in small print, long after the movie has finished. Such a stressful, energy consuming, RESPONSIBLE job that is given such a trivial status name.

Call me crazy but I think at cinematography awards focus pullers should share any prize with the DP, just as set decorators do with production designers. Actually it reminds me alot of filmcomposers and their orchestrator/arrangers.
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#9 Tim Tyler

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 03:28 PM

Such a stressful, energy consuming, RESPONSIBLE job that is given such a trivial status name.

That could pretty much describe any production job. There are hundreds of people who work very hard and stress out during every film's production, and only a dozen of them get credit on the poster.
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#10 Delorme Jean-Marie

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 11:53 AM

take the job and remember focus is always somewhere, try to put it on the actors eyes as much as you can.
it's stressfull but understanding perfectly what focus is about helps you.
what i do :
wait till the very last time to take your marks enless you'll have to take marks all the time for the same shot.
if it's verry difficult and they don't want to give you enougth time to do your job properly just notice them it''ll be totaly out focus.
if they relie on you take the risk and remember how stressfull was your first time in the dark room.
i'm preparing my first film as a dop right know and i may be in the same situation as you are, emotionaly talking
good luck and have fun
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#11 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 06 September 2005 - 08:35 PM

Well honestly, when are you ever truly ready for anything?? You just have to do it! I would suggest picking up an inexpensive Palm Pilot device of sorts and getting David Eubanks' PCam and PCine programs. I got mine for 30 bucks on ebay and it's the most basic thing out there but it will run the software. Just make sure you know the programs well beforehand, as in, how to navigate through the menus and everything. It seems like the rest of the crew knows where you're at, I'm sure you'll do fine. Don't drink too much coffee, don't talk more than you have to, and always keep an eye on the camera. Or preferably a hand. A different hand than the one you're holding the coffee in.
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