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Followup with project out of town...need suggestions!

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Jeff Bonano
Followup with project out of town...need suggestions!
on Jan 5, 2010 at 2:40:49 am

OK, so recently I posted about an out of town project that I wasn't sure what to do for quotes and such. I had a chance to meet with the company on a more casual setting and of course they are interested in setting up the consultation. No problem there, I think I'm ready for that, but they made a few requests for that perfect shot that they are looking to have on this project.

...Let me step back a notch first before I get into their request and my query. This company is a professional group that specializes in "work-at-height equipment, training and services" which means they service bridges, propellers on windmills, inspect structures high up in the air...all on ropes and carabiners. They also train people on rope and sell specialized equipment for rescue missions and such...High, up in the air, like not on the ground, awesome sites for a cameraman, but birds will look at you like, "what's a camera doing way up here without wings?" type work.

Anyway, It's still up in the air (no pun intended) but they are thinking about doing some training video from the ground and up on one of those propellers. They asked me if I was up for the challenge and could shoot from a rope if they ensured my safety and helped me up there. After I took a hard swallow and got the room to stop moving, I gathered myself and said, "Sure, no problem!" And yes, I meant it when I said it. I'd love to do this!

I do think it will be loads of fun, and think I can get past any fear of falling I may have because this video business is my life. Not to mention I think I have a good potential client here...but from a business stand point...I have no clue what I'm in for when it comes to being a camera man with nothing but a dangling rope below me. Any suggestions on what I need to prepare myself for and anything I should have, harness wise, to ensure the safety of my camera equipment? They have all the rope and harness equipment for me, but for my equipment? That camera is my baby! These guys are professionals and sounded pretty confident that they will take good care of my safety so....Yeah, I don't know what to say! Haha, This is hardcore filming at it's finest. Yet honestly, I couldn't find the forum called "preparing for extreme video jobs" so I picked the one where I enjoy the feedback the most.

Skala

Here's a picture of one of their team members actually doing some work on one of these things to give you a better idea of where they want to stick me with one of their climbers.

Jeff Bonano
http://www.bonanoproductions.com

"I want to have a cool quote at the bottom of my signature, just like everyone else on the cow forum!" -Jeff Bonano


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Simon Stutts
Re: Followup with project out of town...need suggestions!
on Jan 5, 2010 at 3:13:21 am

I almost threw up looking at that picture. You are a brave man, sir.


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Craig Seeman
Re: Followup with project out of town...need suggestions!
on Jan 5, 2010 at 4:08:17 am

Jeff, maybe you should contact Douglas Spotted Eagle.
http://leaders.creativecow.net/leaders/spottedeagle_douglas/
He's an aerial camera operator who's done sky diving training videos.




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Chris Blair
Re: Followup with project out of town...need suggestions!
on Jan 5, 2010 at 5:54:29 am

You might also google "helmet cam." There are specialized rigs you can rent for taping stuff like this from a specialized helmet cam...some of which can shoot hi-def to a dedicated hard drive that hooks to your belt and is tethered to the camera. Some even include small battery powered LCD monitors so you can view what you're shooting.

Of course, you don't have much (if any) lens control, but seeing as how I'd be holding onto my balls if I was up that high in the air, I probably wouldn't need to make any lens adjustments anyway.

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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David Roth Weiss
Re: Followup with project out of town...need suggestions!
on Jan 5, 2010 at 5:56:16 am

Jeff,

Don't sweat the height, shooting high up in the air is really no big deal... it's the ground that will kill you.

And, just remember the old adage from those shooting at sea, one hand for you, one hand for your camera, and one hand for the boat... (you do have three hands, right?)

In all seriousness, make certain the company names you as an insured on their insurance policy, and provides equipment coverage for your equipment?

Good luck,
David



David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Nick Griffin
Re: Followup with project out of town...need suggestions!
on Jan 5, 2010 at 2:38:41 pm

[David Roth Weiss] "make certain the company names you as an insured on their insurance policy"

AND... this kind of work should pay MUCH better than both feet on the ground shooting. I have little doubt that this company charges a premium for "working at height" so you should too.

As to use of a helmet-cam, they work well in sky diving because you are able to "fly" toward, away and beside your fellow sky divers. It's basically just a wide shot that you control with your proximity to the subject. While this may work for one or more scenes in your video it's unlikely to be sufficient for the complete narrative. And because you're not sky diving you probably don't want to be "flying" to and from your subject.


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Ron Lindeboom
Re: Followup with project out of town...need suggestions!
on Jan 5, 2010 at 2:52:47 pm

[Jeff Bonano] "Yet honestly, I couldn't find the forum called "preparing for extreme video jobs""


Jeff,

Don't be lazy...it is right here, where you expected it, listed under Preparing for Extreme Video Jobs.

;o)

Don't let the lack of traffic deter you, it's just that most of the rest of us are either too damned scared to bid on that kind of job, or some might argue they are not foolhardy enough.

Happy New Year,

Ron Lindeboom


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Jeff Bonano
Re: Followup with project out of town...need suggestions!
on Jan 5, 2010 at 5:22:42 pm

Allright! Thanks Ron, I totally missed it in the already impressive list of forums! 8-D

Thanks to everyone's input so far! It's actually really pumped me up and I'm even more excited to do this. Not to mention, It's actually got me wondering about other possible video shoots I might go for in the future (I just hope my insurance company doesn't google my name, find this posting, and raise my rates on me).

As always I take the Cow's words to heart in these forums and it helps aid me in my final choices on certain things, (like risking my life for an awesome shot). Of course if I stop posting in about a month, You'll all know it didn't work out as planned...haha.

I did look at some Helmet Cams though, and wanted to share something I think is kinda cool for a low cost.

http://www.goprocamera.com/

After doing some research it looks pretty decent. And for the price, I think it might be worth trying out. Heck if I like it, I'll post my experience in the new forum Preparing for Extreme Video Jobs

Ahh, the extreme video creative juices are flowing!

Jeff Bonano
http://www.bonanoproductions.com

"I want to have a cool quote at the bottom of my signature, just like everyone else on the cow forum!" -Jeff Bonano


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Ron Lindeboom
Re: Followup with project out of town...need suggestions!
on Jan 5, 2010 at 5:47:36 pm

[Jeff Bonano] "Of course if I stop posting in about a month, You'll all know it didn't work out as planned...haha."


To be honest, we have had this happen more than once over the last 15 years or so that we have been building communities online.

Maybe that is one of the reasons that the traffic is so light in the Preparing for Extreme Video Jobs forum. (Another reason might be because it would help if the forum weren't but minutes old started as a gag to chide you for not looking for that forum before posting here.) ;o)

Have a great New Year, Jeff. And as they used to say on Hill Street Blues: Be careful out there.

Ron Lindeboom


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Bill Davis
Re: Followup with project out of town...need suggestions!
on Jan 5, 2010 at 5:49:27 pm

Personally, Jeff - I don't think you're "foolhardy" at all.

It makes sense that some people find this kind of work daunting. Everyone's different. But dams wouldn't get built and towers wouldn't get erected without people capable of pushing aside their fears and going ahead and getting the job done.

I also think some people are just wired not to have this stuff bother them. Case in point, I was at a downtown Phoenix playground with my then 6 year old son - and a kid about his age calmly climbed to the top post of the bars and proceeded to walk - quite confidently - along the top rail. He was a native american lad and I wondered at the time if he was related to those canyonland American Indians who proved to be such exemplary "high steel" workers during the skyscraper eras.

Sometimes it's just in the blood.

For us "regular" folk, it's a matter of conditioning. I've shot from quite a few towers and cranes and lifts and I'm pretty much OK with it. However, I once tried to freeclimb (no harness) the simple ladder on a radio station transmitter tower on the top of South Mountain here in Phoenix and about 15 feet up, I just froze. Something in my brain couldn't reconcile going any higher on a ladder that "appeared" to be suspended about a mile in the sky.

Funny thing the human brain.

But if you trust the riggers and are working with a professional crew who understands the safety aspects - go for it. Can't imagine anything more fun.

As to cameras and particular rigs, I'd want the freedom to shoot as much like i normally shoot as possible. So I'd probably invest in the smallest and best camera rig I could, then bolt it to a short tether to the harness so that it could just reach my eye. Wide lens setting and move close to the action will get you the best shots.


Let us know how it goes.



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Todd Terry
Re: Followup with project out of town...need suggestions!
on Jan 5, 2010 at 6:10:29 pm

Looks fun as heck to me.

How high off the ground is the work being done?

I would think it would be difficult to get proper coverage of all the action while being strapped right to the thing with whomever is working on it. They probably tell these guys "Don't step back to admire your work," but that's probably what you will need to do.

We sometimes rent boom trucks for higher-up work. There's a tree service here in our city that has a sweet truck with an 80' fiberglass double-articulated hydraulic boom... which is actually (and surprisingly) smooth as silk. The first time we used it I really just wanted a high stationary camera platform.... but found that it operated smoothly enough to actually get moving crane shots. The first time, I was sandwiched in the rather smallish bucket with the operator (it was pretty darn cozy), but subsequent times they let me fly by myself (the later guys weren't quite as adherent to the owner's safety regs). But I was harnessed in, and it was safe. The only problem was screaming instructions to the operator eight stories down the first time (and over the noise of the truck)... I didn't know I would get to ride alone so we neglected to bring radios. This guy is really cheap, too... I think he only charges something like $600 for a half day, which really is peanuts considering what the truck is worth. We clamp a high-hat to the rim of the bucket, and it works very well.

It might be that something like that could get you high enough to capture some action from a different perspective.

There might also be some opportunities to simulate some of the work closer to the ground... as long as your camera perspective doesn't give away the fact that you're not high up. That might give you an opportunity for some coverage to augment the stuff where you really are high up.



T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Jeff Bonano
Re: Followup with project out of town...need suggestions!
on Jan 5, 2010 at 6:32:18 pm

You know, now that I think about it...

..They did mention they have just the top head section of one of those contraptions in one of their warehouses for training. I happen to have a greenscreen too! Could be interesting that way as well!

Jeff Bonano
http://www.bonanoproductions.com

"I want to have a cool quote at the bottom of my signature, just like everyone else on the cow forum!" -Jeff Bonano


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Bill Davis
Re: Followup with project out of town...need suggestions!
on Jan 5, 2010 at 6:47:09 pm

Todd,

Based on the photo attached to the OP, I don't think an arm is going to cut it. Notice the crew worker on the blade near the hub on the right side?

By my eyeball calculations, the hub of the wind turbine appeared to be something like 1000 feet or so off the ground. So even a 100' cherry picker is gonna be dwarfed.

They have these turbines in the mountains skirting Salt Lake City where I was driving last month. And the SCALE of the beasts is so big, that it's hard to get your brain around.

Actually, Jeff, I think this might be the ideal kind of job to partner with one of those RC helicopter video guys on.

Fun project, tho.






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Jeff Bonano
Re: Followup with project out of town...need suggestions!
on Jan 5, 2010 at 8:38:50 pm

Ohhh, what if I took one of those helmet cams and mounted it on one of those RC Helicopters or planes? That would be cool! Do like a fly by as the crew was working on one of those things!

Jeff Bonano
http://www.bonanoproductions.com

"I want to have a cool quote at the bottom of my signature, just like everyone else on the cow forum!" -Jeff Bonano


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walter biscardi
Re: Followup with project out of town...need suggestions!
on Jan 5, 2010 at 8:41:32 pm

[Bill Davis] "Actually, Jeff, I think this might be the ideal kind of job to partner with one of those RC helicopter video guys on."

Flying Cam guys are great! Incredible shots with that RC helicopter.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
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Biscardi Creative Media

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Mark Suszko
Re: Followup with project out of town...need suggestions!
on Jan 6, 2010 at 3:53:52 pm

I dabble in RC flight, and my opinion on the copter cam for this windmill job is that it would be pretty hard to get a long-duration stable shot of anything detailed with it at the height we're talking about, and considering how tricky the wind could be in the turbulent area around the pylon and blades of the wind turbine, even when parked. Plus, do you *really* want the heli blades spinning that close to the worker doing the demo? The chopper noise would also ruin any on-location audio. Not saying you couldn't work around most of these issues, but I just don't think this *particular* shoot is a good match for what RC heli cams can do.

Based on the fact the clients are expert riggers, what might work better for the windmill job would be to rig a small boom at the top of the structure, (they already have these, if they work on radio towers) reaching out to the side, and "fly" a suspended camera platform using rope or cable, that can hang alongside the worker, and be raised or lowered to suit. And you could use remote PTZ to aim the camera on that platform from the ground. Or the top of the structure. This gives you the distance and perspective to shoot the worker full-body from alongside. Wind could push the hanging basket/platform as well, but you can use lines to brace it.

I will not have any first-person stories for this forum, I'm afraid. I definitely have a fear of heights, though I enjoy trying the simple rock-climbing walls at the state fair and such, hanging "on belay". But it is a major deal to get me on a ladder to clean out my roof gutters, and I tend to freeze up climbing the ladder to the high-dive.

Put me in the cockpit of a plane, though, and I'm fine. Go figure:-)


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Jeff Bonano
Re: Followup with project out of town...need suggestions!
on Jan 6, 2010 at 4:02:39 pm

I agree on the RC plane thing considering I don't even own one, I think it would be just a cool shot in general on my own time if I ever learned to fly one of those things!

You know, off the subject for a second, I think a lot of people have problems with heights like this because they feel they have no control over if they fall or not. They worry if the knot will slip or the harness will come undone. If you are flying a plane (as apposed to to riding on one) you feel that you have control of your safety. Ladders are the same way. A high enough ladder and you realize you have no control over if the ladder will fall or if you will fall backwards or........oh crap, now I'm getting the heebie jeebies just thinking about being on a ladder!

Jeff Bonano
http://www.bonanoproductions.com

"I want to have a cool quote at the bottom of my signature, just like everyone else on the cow forum!" -Jeff Bonano


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James Dow
Re: Followup with project out of town...need suggestions!
on Jan 26, 2010 at 9:14:42 pm

I do a lot of video work with electric utilities, and have been in on some wind turbine construction. I doubt if the hub is at 1000ft, cause that would be one huge-arse wind turbine. Probably between 200 and 300 ft. As suggested, a boom truck with a bucket is a great help on this type of shoot. Stability is an issue as they tend to bounce with any weight shift. In FCP the "smoothcam" feature can do a decent job of getting rid of the "bucket bounce." The bucket truck will enable you to get some nice crane shots as you move up or down. Since you will have access to the maintenance guys, I would look at having them rig a lipstick camera (or something small) to the hub, to get another interesting vantage point of the repair work. FYI..There is a cool video of a wind turbine project that went wrong on YouTube..(Waverly, Iowa)

JPD


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