50mm, 3.4k OG T2.8 1/3.
Fast track in from 20’ to 3’ with various racks to and from different subjects at different distances throughout.
I’m sure there must be some technique I’m missing, or maybe it’s just experience! With it being so fast I couldn’t rely on my marks and had to do it by eye at the closer end. Got it various times but never reliably one take after another. Never comfortable asking for more stop especially on a 50mm!
Would be interested to hear some suggestions.
This is tricky. I’ve been in the same situation several times and it’s sadly a case of managing expectations. The DOP should know better if they expect you to be able to pull between subjects and keep them sharp whilst dollying in and out the whole time between 20’ and 3’, more so if your on a fast stop. This is where I would recommend telling the DOP / Director with a witness present that you won’t be able to keep the subjects sharp the whole time, certainly without rehearsals and marks. If you’ve made them aware and they’re happy to proceed then the ownus is on them and you have a witness to verify. Hope that helps. In terms of marks, don’t make too many marks because it can get confusing, make a few marks at key positions.
Cmotion cpro + cinert with focusbugs would do the job. You get marks voiced in your headphones from cinert and can bug the subjects (this might not work as bugs are line of sight dependable). Also autofocus toggle on cpro.
Other options would probably be preston with lightranger2 or cvision/qinematiq(not out yet).
Not technology based, I guess 2nd AC shouting out marks? Some sort of help but not very reliable.
Lots of rehearsals!
With these sorts of shots I try to walk the move for the first few rehearsals / takes. Often I'll start by measuring the track length, then distance to subjects at the two extremes.
From there I estimate the between measure while walking through the length of the track. During the 1st rehearsal I'll have the 2nd or trainee on my monitor checking for any soft moments while I practice it "the old fashioned way".
Needless to say, this really helps with the rhythm of the scene and getting better at adjusting marks in your head.
Once I'm happy with the flow of the scene and I have any extra measures I might need based on the feedback from the 2nd, I'll add the monitor to my flow, glancing at it during problem areas and then really concentrating on it for close focus.
Depending on the setup I may stand off to one side but I prefer to keep walking the move along side the dolly.
Just wanted to say I really appreciate this approach :) The narrative work I get to pull on is usually faster pace so its hard to think of solutions like this, but I think its a workflow I would love! Definitely plan to try this out on the next job where we can place a mark...
I wouldn't worry too much about placed marks. I measure to a fixed point in the environment then a subjects range of motion around that. Making minor alterations if they're leaning back or forward.
Getting up and moving with the camera (even just at the start of the day) can really help get in the mind of the operator/dolly grip. There are some operators I work with where I've learned their movements so well, I just keep half an eye on them and I know how the cameras about to move.
As of me I would also suggest a whole lot of rehearsals if you don’t have the possibility of some device making the hard/impossible part for you. Also because as far as I understand there’s a dolly involved, so it’s not just a matter of coordination between your hand and eye but there’s a third element (the grip pushing the dolly) which is human.
- only the marks you really need, the fewer the better
- coordinate with the dolly grip and try to have him doing the push/movement always in the same time
- more rehearsals
- try to stay as zen as possible
- did I mention rehearsals?
hope it helped
Every shot that may look hard to pull can be easy, every shot that look easy can be hard at the end of the day.
Dops will try to push it, you say 3 feet today, they may ask 1 feet tomorrow.
I have never been lucky enough to use cinetape or other gadgets. So far the techniques below helped me.
So, here is what I do. I put my monitor directly facing the dolly. I put the marks on the floor and a tape on the dolly, so I can see in the corner of my eye which mark the dolly is hitting. Next I put numbers on the marks and I tell 2nd AC to call each mark.
I put a tape mark on the witness mark on the wcu4 and for each measurement mark, I put another tape mark on the circle. So when I am watching the monitor, my fingers will sense which mark I am hitting.
Lastly, you have to have a rhythm for the scene. You start slow on pulling, then gradually increase your speed of pulling as you come closer.
Hope this helps.
Not really too much to add to these really great suggestions, but I would also say that there are tons of tools out there on the market to assist you in pulling off a shot like this... Managing expectations as Zach said is definitely step one, but if its something the DoP really wants sharp, its your job to set yourself up for success and push a little bit to make it happen. A good example would be maybe adding a CineRT or (if you're on a Preston system) a LightRanger to your camera order. A T2.8 is a pretty reasonable stop on a 50mm to be honest so it really comes down to you having the information you need and the BIG factor, is people hitting their marks.