Wednesday, July 29, 2009

This Post is Featured In Grish's Sidebar

Sorry I have not finished up the previous story. But it is so damn hot at home right now.
I'll get to it I promise


Monday, July 06, 2009

I Get to Work on a Real Movie - The Hunt For Red October

Back in the late 80s I was asked to go help work on a second unit crew that was shooting some plate shots for the up coming movie The Hunt For Red October. Knowing really nothing about what to expect I went along to see what was what. Besides I needed the money.
The shot we were getting was for the end of the movie were Ryan and Ramius were standing on the conning tower of the submarine at night as they moved up a river somewhere in New England to hid the stolen Russian Submarine.
The footage of the actors was shot on a sound stage in front of a blue screen and our job was to shoot the back ground of the scene. Which was actually located on Bainbridge island Washington, not new England. Here is the shot
Here is the kicker. The company that was doing the effects for the film, thus this shot as well was Boss Films. Now Boss Films was Richard Edlunds company. Before the days of Computer generated effects or CGI, special effects were done in the real world. There were a number of techniques ranging from simple things like Hanging Minitures and Minuatures to comples blue and green screen process shots to what Boss was famous for, Motion Control. See Richard Edlund was the guy who developed the computer controled camera movement that made the shots of the Millenium Falcon flying through the asteroid belt in Star Wars V possible.
I was working for These Guys!!!
Richard was not on set nor did he ever show but the guy in charge was a fellow by the name of Thaine Morris. He was and still is one of the top pyro guys in Hollywood. Remember Die Hard? he was the guy that blew up the helicopter at the end of the movie.
He had 4 other guys with him from LA and we had about 5 or 6 locals including a UPM and production coordinator.
So this was kind of a big deal. We were going to set up a 275 foot elevated dolly shot that was going to support the camera and a computer rig (286 rack mount state of the art) that were going to match the movement of both the submarine up the river and the pan, tilt and zoom of the camera from the process shot of the actors.
What this amounted to was about 5 days of really hard back breaking work. But man was it worth it.
So here is what we did.
first we were located on the beach on a small bay off of Country club road on Bainbridge Island.
Right about here

View Larger Map

So they drew a line parallel to the beach about 20 feet off the water and we set up a single run of your basic scaffolding. About 275 feet in length.

Next at each connecting point we had to stabilize the scaffolding by running a guy wire to a 3 foot steel grounding stake called a bull prick. Because hey this is mens work and that is what it looks like. Now granted it did not matter what the ground was like, you had to put the stake in directly off the upright on the scaffolding. Rocks, sand, asphalt, did not matter that is where the damn thing was going to be pounded into the ground. So yeah I spent about 3 or 4 days swinging a sledge hammer pounding in 3 foot steel stakes. and a road and been laid there in the past so..yeah lots of asphalt.
Now there was an old grip they brought up whose name is believe was John. A crusty old cuss that had more mad gripping skills in the skin he left on the sledge hammer handle than in all of the greater Seattle area. he did not say much but I learned a lot about just shutting up and getting the job done.
They fed us well and one day during lunch it was raining so we were hanging out in a trailer they had there. It was really cool to listen to these guys talking about doing things like wrapping the spine of a helocopter with primer chord, packing it what napalene and gas and blowing it to little bits and a big ass fire ball. You remember in die Hard when the Helicopter blows up? Yeah that time.
So anyway we eventually get the guy wires all pounded in and then it was on to the next step in the process.


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Monday, June 29, 2009

Wow, just Wow

OK I know and accept that I have a small readership. Something like 3 hits a day is average lately and that is mostly due to me not posting for almost a year. I vowed to change that and even got the spouse to whore my blog in hers. That bumped me up rather nicely but nothing like what happened on Friday. If you look at my side bar you will not some blogs and comix and that I had acually orginized them to some extent. Well I went out to Wil Wheaton's blog and was reading a post of his that was an exerpt from a column he wrote. Basically it was how the technology of film and television production is changing. he was guest on a show called leverage. it shoots in Portland and evidently it is being shot on the Red One Camera.
I also noticed that there were no other comments on this post. I like to comment on blogs if I have something to say but on his he is so popular that the comments become white noise at some point.
Anyway I posted a link back to this blog since my previous post was about the new camera and the tests. I thought it was germain to his post.
Long story short a plethora of people clicked the link and checked out this blog.
I was not purposly whoring his popularity to get hits but the result was pretty amazing. And if anyone who actually stuck around and read my posts, welcome and I hope you found it entertaining and informative.

On a completely tangental note, Whenever I play Fallout 3 and come upon the Wheaton Armory I always think of and somehow connect it to Wil.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Camera Test

The Zombie quiz lost its graphics suddenly so I removed it. Too bad I was amused by it.

I bought a new camera last week. it is a Panasonic AG HVX205a Hig def camera that can record to either DV tape or P2 type solid state hard disk. A couple of years ago when we were preparing for Fearless I did some testing with the camera we used a Cannon XL2 which did not have Hi Def and only recorded to DV tape.
Look here for the original tests
With that in mind Mark and I wanted to do an inital test of the new camera. The difference was amazing. Look at how much detail comes out in the background and how it is much less mushy. Also there is none of that bloom nonsense we had with the cannon. I set it at F 8 it stays at F 8

HVX 200 Camera test from Eric Thomas on Vimeo.

So the basic lighting setup was a 1 K Baby as a key with 1/4 CTO on it which reads F8
i mounted a 650 Tweenie on the wall behind her for a back light which reads at F11 and then we filled to the right of the frame with the Kino Flo using daylight bulbs and this read at about an F4. the lampbehind her we replace the bulb with a 75 watt photo flood


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How Bout Some Random Photos

Some Extras that are crew woman on the Phoenix

A Shot of our Set For Phoenix

Another Shot of the Phoenix Set

The WeekendLites Grip Truck

A shot from the Graveyard scend for Black Sheep Boy

Monday, June 22, 2009

So I was bored

And was checking who is looking at my blog, in particular who is actually reading and what are they reading. See I only get about 3 hits a day since I am not particularly interesting like say Lorraine. Regardless I saw someone took some time to read my bloc this morning and I saw they were linked to me from Site Meter who manages my traffic data. That spiked my curiosity so I looked a bit further and saw it was from a company in Beverly Hills. Ok so there is a company in BH that googled lighting or some such and found my site and read a wait it was not a google referal it was from site meter. Stranger still. So I looke a bit closer and I see that the company is Headquarter Entertainment. So I do the natural thing and google Headquarter Entertainment. Turns out it is the multimedia empire of an actor named Tyrese Gibson. He is in among other things the new and previous Transformer movies. Plays an airforce Sgt. Have not seen the first but likely will cause the new one looks really cool. As much as I hate to say it, Michael Bay does eye candy well.
So then I start thinking why the hell would someone from this company track back to my blog from Site Meter. That means I would have to have linked to something on my page.....w a i t a m i n u t e. I added some links to my blog last week. And I went over to one called Don't Forget to Validate Your Parking. A minimalist sort of comic by a screen writer in LA named Michael Le. It is basicaly about the incredulous conversations he has with various industry types on the phone. check it out I think it is very amusing. So I go the link and start reading some of the stuff he has had there for a couple of weeks in the side bar. Sort of what I am up to. this included some photos of him and the coauthors of a comic they are doing called Mayhem that they are releasing. Also involved is one Tyrese Gibson.
so there we have it. Mystery solved. Some one at Mr Gibson's company was looking at the hit tracker on Michael's site for marketing information. They see my little blog and come over to check it out.
How nice is that. Hi leave a comment next time.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Some Updates and a networking meeting

First off I updated the side bar adding some links and removing some dead links. I also added the film centric category that links to all things filmish. Or at least those that interest me.

Secondly I have been a member of a group called Indie club for a couple of years now but saddly they do nothing to promote networking here in Seattle. it is really rather sad. but Leo over at the Star Trek production group has put on twice a networking party over the last few months. The most recent was last night and Normally I do not do things on a school night I decided to go because I needed to get out and press some flesh and promote my grip and electric and new camera stuff. Yups I bought a new HD video camera, a Panasonic AG-HVX205-a which is a bitchen camera and I made a lot of new best friends last night.
The party was in the upstairs of a bar called Bal Mar in Ballard. I showed up at 7 and a number of peeps from the Phoenix crew as well as Lucien from 3rd Eye were there. Lucien bought a few 1 K stage lights about a year ago and was storing them at my place. He picked up all but one that Ihave been tripping over for the last few months in my garage so I took him his light back. I hope he remembered to take it home as he can get a bit rambunctious. By about 9 the place was packed with all sorts of film making types and I wandered around pressing the flesh and introducing myself to strangers. Talked to a nice makeup lady and more then a few producers who were very interested in my grip and electic stuff. I gave them all my basic spiel. If you want to talk about money then it is going to cost you 1500 bucks a day to get me, my truck and all the gear. If on the other hand you have a cool narrative script and have your shit together, I will be happy to come and play so long as you pay milage on the truck and if the HMI plays give me 30 bucks a day for bulb costs. (A secret here, the HMI always plays) Lots of attractive MAWs. (Model, Actress, Whatever) I made an interesting observation here. I guess as I am typing this that it is not great revelation but they all seemed to cluster together and prey on those they thought were producers and directors. I was amused.
I saw Elle and her Husband Adam who do the behind the scenes stuff for STP and they had this really cool looking campy scifi show they want to do. She asked if I would help and of couse I said sure. They are fun and creative and I would be happy to work with them. Leo conviced me to bring the Camera along for the next STP shoot and Elle will operate since that is not my scene.
I also had a nice long chat with Forest Gibson who is a DP and director for a fantastic live actor graphic novel called Night Zero that can be found on line. there is a link on the side bar. all in all it was a great time and I hope Leo arranges some more of these things. We as a community in Seattle must try to get together more often.

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