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Nick Higgins
Submarines
on Mar 3, 2009 at 8:10:28 pm

Does anyone have any words of wisdom about shooting in a big submarine? If there is anything anyone learned along the way would be useful I am all ears. The plan is 3 days in the Pacific on an Ohio class.

Are they well lit? Do they roll around a lot? is it a pukefest?




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Mark Suszko
Re: Submarines
on Mar 3, 2009 at 9:12:29 pm

Underwater, very smooth. A little roll on the surface but less than you'd expect. If you're worried, take Marazine or have your doctor prescribe a transdermal scopolamine "scop" patch ahead of the shooting day. Give thsoe meds lead time to take hold.

Fluorescent lighting mostly, unflattering color temps.
Cramped as all heck, that goes without saying. Like your college dorm:-) Doors are narrow and short. You'll also have ladders. Machine spaces can be noisy, mostly from blowers or pumps.

I'm jealous you got the gig:-)


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Nick Higgins
Re: Submarines
on Mar 4, 2009 at 5:48:15 pm

Thanks Mark- much appreciated. I have been Youtubing all the submarine videos to get a peek at life inside- certainly looks tight for space.

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Mark Suszko
Re: Submarines
on Mar 4, 2009 at 6:13:48 pm

If you're ever in Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry is a MUST, in this case, the newly refurbished U-505 German Submarine exhibit is really impressive.


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John Sprung
Re: Submarines
on Mar 6, 2009 at 10:59:56 pm

I shot aboard a WWII Bato/Galato class once, USS Roncador, SS-301.

You need a crew that can pretty much forget about traditional job descriptions and everybody does everything. For instance, the boom guy tweaks the barn doors on a light, because it's much quicker to have it done by the person who's nearest than to get him and others out of the way so an electrician can get in there. People don't go get things, they pass a sandbag along to where it's needed.

Lights will hang on clamps of various kinds rather than stands, you'll want flex arms instead of C-stands, and all the smaller control stuff that goes with them.


-- J.S.




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Nick Higgins
Re: Submarines
on Mar 29, 2009 at 4:23:50 pm

So I lived to tell the submariners tale. We were on board an Ohio class sub called the USS Pennsylvania for 4 days in the Pacific. All in all a seriously fascinating environment to shoot in. Luckily its the biggest sub out t here so space wise it wasnt too cramped. Like a cross between a sleeper train, a plane and below decks on a big ship.

As Mark says it was all fluorescents with various degrees of flattery, none very high. There was just enough light to function with an HDX900 without adding any gain but I had to lower the gamma and on occasion switch from -3db to 0db to get any detail. We took a couple of lite panels with us and they worked out great. There were lots of shelf like spaces to leave them on and there were enough light sources in every shot to make them seem like part of the sub's reality.

I'd say that the shorter the camera operator the better cause there are lots of things to clunk a camera (and your head) on.

You can feel the swell all the way down to 200ft but below that it was very smooth. At periscope depth it rock and rolls quite a bit and you find yourself willing them to get it done quickly and get down below. We went down as far as 500ft and down there its very sweet indeed. You cant even tell which direction you are going unless you see the front end of a torpedo.

Getting on the sub can be a challenge depending on the weather. We boarded out in the ocean and luckily it wasnt raining, If it was I would have been up the creek cause all I had was a canvas portabrace bag. It would be a good idea to have a waterproof hard case back up cause at some stage someone has to lug it from one ship to another and its certainly subject to the elements for a good two minutes. It was clear sky when we got on so i just had the camera in a rain cover on a shoulder strap- the challenge then was climbing down 4 flights of ladders down a hole that the camera had to be put vertically to squeeze through. A contingency plan for getting the gear on in bad weather would be a good idea.

When we got off, again in the middle of the ocean, we set up on the supply ship to shoot the dive (a seriously rare thing that the navy doesnt usually allow). Its pretty surreal to get out the belly of the beast you've been on for 4 days and to watch it slowly disappear. I was in awe as much as I would have been if it had been a whale we were shooting. I am pretty sure its the first time i have emotionally responded to the departure of a vehicle!

All in all a fascinating shoot. The show airs on NAT GEO worldwide in July. Its called Big, Bigger, Bggest.






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