This past sunday I was given the opportunity to work with two local filmmakers, Sean Brown, and Tim Jankowski. Sean being a local cinematographer, and Tim being a Jib owner/operator. I don't get enough opportunities to fly my camera on a Jib, and Tim was looking for an excuse to get time with his new TALON head, which is a 2 Axis motion control head. This also allowed me to get the chance to run my Wireless HDMI kit, to see how it would function in advance of a shoot in July that both Tim and I will be working in concert in. Normally when I've done jib work I've played purely the role AC, controlling focus, iris, and zoom. This however was an interesting chance to get some time controlling the Talon head. Which uses two handwheels to control pan and tilt. And the experience...is well...interesting.
"The best way to describe it...it's like rubbing your tummy and patting your head, only you're trying to do it 60 feet away from your body, and everything is reversed..."
The Talon head is interesting in that it allows for recording of the operators X and Y movements, and then can play these back in real time, or over a longer period of time. Where this becomes extremely attractive is in motion control work for crowd replication, time lapses, etc. Basically if you have something with a Mitchell mount, this head will go on it. The mind boggles with the amazing things you can do, especially with a head of this weight capacity. Now, as for use...I'll say that Jib operators get mad respect from me, as either lacked the coordination, or the time, to fully acclimatize myself to trying to pan and tilt the camera using two separate controls. Simply put, the entire process of Jib operation is a total concert between 3 people, the AC (myself), the grip (Tim), and the Jib operator (Sean), and if any one part is late, or lacking, the entire shot falls apart.
Now that said we filmed over in Brooklyn park, and besides a few raised eyebrows, everyone in the park were game to come over and see what were doing. This provided us with some child actors who provided moving subjects for all of us to practice.
Considering we were all coming into the Talon head as newbies the result isn't half bad. There's a few issues for sure, but this was done about an hour after setup. And the majority of time came from issues relating to debugging the camera, remote start/stop, and sensitivity on the hand-controls for the Talon's controls. I was very pleased that the Nyrius ARIES Wireless HDMI kit worked perfectly out of the box, and looked as good as the SDI feed would have. Plus it was totally wireless, which is frankly dark magic to me. I can see this kit getting a lot of love for when on dollies, shoulder rigs, and of course Jibs.
This won't be my last time on a Jib, as I'll be pulling focus with Tim on a project in July that looks to be a lot of fun. And this was an excellent opportunity to debug some camera issues so that we weren't doing so on a client's time, as well as dreaming up some awesome uses for what is a very awesome piece of motion control gear.