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job of a Video Assist


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#1 siddharth diwan

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 05:50 AM

what exactly is a job of a video assist...what alll responsibilities?
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#2 Laurent Andrieux

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 07:19 AM

Basically, it consists in being in charge of the video monitor for the director, script girl, DA etc.

So you have to follow -eventually helped by a grip - the setups, unplug the video from the camera when a shot is done, and plug it again as soon as the next setup place for the camera is reached. The best is to be there at the same time as the camera - I once had a famous director yieling for the video though the camera was not in place yet ! - Calibrate it, protect it from the sun etc.

Usually, you also are in charge of recording the shots and takes on a tape - usually a combo monitor - You then shouldn't miss a take - it's always the one you've missed that he wants to see - So the best is to shoot the boards, write down the counter position for each take so that after 6 takes for instance, when he comes to you and say "I want to see the second take", finding it back and rewinding would only take the time to say "yes, sir", the best being not to say anything, and just show that take.

You then have to keep a good record of the shots on the different tapes if ever etc.

On big ads you can do both clapper loader and video assist eventually (I used to ask for a 1st AC salary in that case, when I used to do that job).

I'm pretty sure making a research in these forums would be interesting as well.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 11:25 AM

On union shows, the video assist / playback job has gotten more complicated. Often they are dealing with multiple cameras, first of all, and nowadays they are recording the signal to some sort of hard drive, backed up later on DVD's, for playback. Often they will be asked "can I see Take 3 from Scene 102 that we shot last Wednesday to check on something?"

On "The Astronaut Farmer" our video playback guy had twin flatscreen monitors (17" 16x9 LCD's I think) attached to a rolling stand (looked like a refridgerator dolly) with a rack of hard disk drives beneath them and a box of cables at the base. He was extremely mobile that way. He also carried a portable Mini-DV monitor/deck combo (the "clamshell") for when we were running around fields, etc. Only problem we had is that the Millenium could send out a 2.35 letterboxed image whereas the GII could only send out the unsqueezed scope image, which normally would be corrected by a switch on the back of some Panavision monitors, but not these LCD's. So we'd be seeing A-camera letterboxed but B-camera unsqueezed on the monitors.

If you're not going to record the video tap image, on smaller shows, normally the 2nd AC would probably be setting up the video assist monitor and running cable to the camera. On non-union HD shows with a big HD monitor, I usually insist on someone being assigned to dealing with just the monitor, moving it around, cabling it, etc. often a camera intern or something working with the 2nd AC, because it becomes too much work for just one 2nd AC.
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#4 Laurent Andrieux

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 12:17 PM

And it's a good thing this job is done by a camera crew member. It's a good job for a beginner, 2nd AC etc. and it's worth giving the job to them. In France, during a period of time, productions had a low consideration for this job and would give it to some trainee AD or PD. They don't do the job as well as people from the camera department. Setting a monitor is an image job, defenetly. You sometimes have a color corrector to deal with as well and being part of the camera crew, a trainee or 2nd AC can help the camera crew and have experience in the camera dept as well.
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#5 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 12:44 PM

Hi,

A few weeks ago, I had occasion to do video assist on a promo shoot for Sky News. It was fairly straightforward, being a single camera 35mm mainly MOS shoot.

I used hardware of my own design, a disk-based recorder, as they wanted to be able to preview speed ramps. I was also able to match some cuts-through-black and preview corner-pinned monitor dropins. I understand this is a novel ability for video assist, but it was really very straightforward. Particularly "Can we see that short from there..." is trivially easy if you index it all on capture.

The only minor complexity was negotiating with the technocrane guys to get a feed from their equipment; otherwise it's just a case of knowing the software.

And I did lose one take, not to a hardware fault... I still don't know what happened, and yes they wanted to see it immediately afterward!

Phil
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#6 Laurent Andrieux

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 07:31 PM

it's just a case of knowing the software.


The obvious question : what software did you work with ? ;)
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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 09:49 PM

Hi,

After Effects, Premiere, Virtualdub, DVIO, plus a couple of HTAs of my own concoction.

Phil
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#8 Rohit Jain

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 04:51 AM

I think u should ask ur friend rohit bot dis job. he'l b able to help you out.
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#9 Lav Bodnaruk

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 05:15 AM

The obvious question : what software did you work with ? ;)


I did a few video assist some time ago and have many friends that specialise in doing it... owning their own gear, truck full of... here is a gadget usuful to try doing the job with --> http://www.videoassist.com/

Recently a friend did a job i meant to help out with, it was an 8 cameras (35mm) set-up action shot. He had to feed a signal from each camera to his base, where he had Media 100s going... he also had to feed in the sound; From there he had to get the signal out to 5 different HODs; It was quite a set-up i got to say... and no time for it... no one wants to wait for the video assist guys; Throw in a wet ground, a lake between him adn the camera and start imagining how to feed that lead through it (he used empty COKE bottle to wrap around the part where BNCs were extended. The COKE bottle was cut on both sides with the lead going through... gaffed closed. Air in it made it float on the lake :D)

then you have ads and similar... i did video assist on a TVC recently, two 35mm cameras and two clamshells; BNC out of each into the clamshell and press record; they always wanted to see the take back, but it was merely a mater of rewinding and playing it back... director was so cool he came around and wanted to handel the clamshell himself, pressing record and rewinding... that was weird i got to say - i made friends with him though.

on the short i did recently, it was a 16mm production and the video assist had a bigger set-up to do in all of the Steadicam shots, for it had to be wireless and flags needed to be set-up around the set, of course avoiding being in the shot...

i too agree that Video Assist is a great job for a 2nd AC but i also think its a GREAT exeprience for someone wanting to get into directing too... i mean, thats why i did it... In most of the jobs I did Video Assist on I got to sit NEXT to the director and hear the first thoughts he had about the shot... got to see him direct cause when i was done it was all on them to nail the shot... if they were getting 20 takes i was sitting there and watching, recording, rewinding and watching some more... sure enough on that 8 camera set-up you wouldnt be sitting next to the director, you are working from a Van but on most TVCs I did i was literaly first man next to him/her...

thats my 2cents.
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#10 Stephen Williams

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 09:38 AM

they wanted to be able to preview speed ramps.
Phil
[/quote]


Hi Phil,

What did you end up using for the camera acceleration? Cubic Splines?

Stephen
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#11 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 11:58 AM

Hi,

It ended up being completely eyeballed as they just shot everything at 50fps and wound it about in post. I was more demonstrating what could be done, which is where having some edit background came in handy.

I did feel a little guilty as information I provided prompted them to go back and completely redo the first shot of the day, costing the company an hour of overtime... not anything I pressed for personally, but I don't think I'll be invited back somehow!

Phil
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