Vegas Post Mortem
I thought I'd give a quick wrap-up to my nightmare of a location shoot in Las Vegas last week... especially since I had appealed for help in here, and a couple of COW peeps were nice enough to write me... and the COW led me to some help...
We were scheduled to shoot last week a big event (a convention-type thing) for one of our big corporate clients in Las Vegas. Unfortunately for us, that is 1800 miles across the country from our usual home base, which always means planning and packing etc.
We had four main equipment cases, one of which United was kind enough to lose during a connection in Houston (we had foolishly thought the worst part of the trip would be that on arrival Tuesday night in Vegas the pilot announced that it was 104 degrees). We arrived in Las Vegas fortunately with our cameras and most of the "important" stuff... but what was missing was all the "long" stuff.... our tripod, all of our light stands, our slider, our mic boom, etc.
That led to some frantic searching. There are rental houses in Las Vegas... but none open at midnight when you have to be on location shooting in seven hours. Fortunately through the COW's "services" section I found a source in Vegas, who didn't have what we needed... but a friend of a friend did. He met us at our hotel at the crack o' dawn the next morning and was at least able to provide us with light stands and a tripod that we could use. Whew.
Of course nothing is exactly what you need. The tripod head was a bit underweight for what we needed, but "good enough" (I had my own head, but it wouldn't' fit on the rented sticks). We were also missing about a half dozen medium-duty Matthews stands. This guy had five stands, but none of them were what I'd call "mid range." They ranged from super lightweight little stands to big heavy combos... but nothing in between. We made do (and were very glad to have them), but it was sometimes a little funny to see a small LED fresnel perched on top of a stand that should have been holding a big 12K HMI.
And... trips like this force you to be a little creative (which isn't a bad thing). We had no boom pole, but for some reason when packing I thought "Lemme throw this in" and included a little thread adapter that will allow a mic clamp to be attached to a regular painter's pole. Well I found a janitor's closet that was foolishly unlocked and stole (sorry, I mean "borrowed") the handle off a big push broom which became our mic boom. And because we didn't have enough stands, the ones we had pulled double duty... I found in an "interview" setup that if positioned properly I could put a mic boom and an Ice Light (my fill) on the same stand with a Mafer clamp. I'd never done that before... but to be honest I just might do it again...
This has all taught us a lesson, and I think we will start shipping gear separately for distance location shoots again. We did that way in the past, we had a half dozen big Pelican and golf bag cases that we would FedEx to location...I would carry on my lenses but nothing else. But we stopped doing that for a couple of reasons... firstly, because it is wildly expensive to do it that way. And secondly, due to shrinking cameras, lights, and support equipment, we probably need a third the size/weight equipment on location now than we did even 10 years ago or so, and it finally shrank enough that it seemed to make more sense to just travel with it. I think I'm going to reverse that policy, though.
This time we kept expecting our case to arrive at some point and reprieve us from all this make-do work, but it never happened. We kept checking with the airline, but they had no idea where it was.
But... United finally did find it, and called to let us know it would shortly be landing in Las Vegas.
That call came twenty minutes before our departing flight left the runway.
And, by the way I returned the broom handle to the Venetian's janitor's closet.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
Nice work Todd - adapt and overcome, SAS style! You might want to place that image as a proud member of the shittyrigs website (not that it is that shitty!). I love looking through those pictures to see what people have had to cook up when something has been forgotten, lost or damaged on a job!
Makes a valid point to never ship anything in the hold of a plane - makes me shudder to think of the things I've flown around Europe with whilst sat with little more than a laptop and some lenses in the overhead bins.
We recently purchased some kit from Adorama and direct from Kessler in the US to help build a new motion control rig we have invested in. The portable rails and stands weren't available in the UK and I was expecting a big shipping invoice as they weighed nearly 22Kg for each parcel. Was amazed that we were only charged $138 for each - considering how much it costs for additional bags to go on a plane as baggage allowance its a no brainer I guess!
Co-owner at Pollen Studio
One thing people may not remember or think of is that you can use Greyhound busses to ship parcels cross-country. A tripod in a container I think just fits their maximum length rules... you can look that stuff up on their web site... it can be as fast as FedEx overnight, but sometimes faster and cheaper, because it goes point-to-point, station to station, no stopping at hubs or sorting centers in-between.