Friday, September 23, 2005

Cranes, planes and automobiles - And a couch.

Well, we setup the crane last night and determined that we can use it for The Aquarium without the extension. We will prove that out on Sunday when we test on location. It was quite a bit of work setting up the crane but once it was done, it was very very smooth and easy to use.

To set the counterweight, we first used the diving weights that Nancy had lying around and determined that 17 lbs was far too much. Since she had some 5 lb barbells, we put those into a zippered pillowcase and draped that over the back area of the crane. This turned out to be just slightly not enough.

So we tossed in a lead acid battery that the remote LCD monitor for the camera uses to add 1.5 lbs and a Makita battery charger to add another 1 lb for a total of 12.5 lbs. This was just slightly too much weight so we removed the Makita and I tossed in a book that I guessed was about 1/2 lb in weight and it balanced perfectly.

So tonight we will pick up 2 5lb weights and a few 1lb weights and we will be set with a balance of 12lbs to offset the Z1U camera. After that we ran some tests and adjusted the crane so that all of the pulleys and camera tilt adjustment were working smoothly. Once that was done we did some test shots around the apartment and the results were stunning.

Just as I had finished capturing the test footage into Premiere, the apartment building fire alarm went off. I looked out the window in the office and could see smoke billowing up from the parking lot. Turns out some idiot had put an old couch by the dumpsters in the misguided hope that by some magic, someone would take it away.

Well, the couch is gone now since some equally brilliant person decided to set fire to the couch. The end result was no one was hurt, no damage to anything except the couch and Nancy has a bunch of footage of the firefighters ripping the couch apart and extinguishing it that she took from the balcony.

Meanwhile, Nancy and I made the determination that for future shoots, we will need a vehicle that is better suited to hauling all of this crap. The crane weighs a ton and it's 6' in length without the extension so we will probably sell the Camry after this film and get some kind of mini-van or truck to hail the gear to sets/locations.

On the dolly front, Fed-Ex had NO clue where the dolly shipment was (which also included the mounting bracket for the LCD monitor on the crane) so she contacted the vendor and they were very helpful. They arranged to have a new dolly sent airfreight overnight to us (along with the bracket) so we should have it today so that we can do our tests at the location on Sunday with the full rig.

Oh, and FedEx did FINALLY figure out where the dolly is at. It's in Georgia. So it went from San Diego, to "somewhere in the twilight zone" and finally popped out of it's alternate reality into the wilds of Georgia. Sigh.

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