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Uncomfortable Camera Operating Recomendations

Benjamin Guerrero

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Hello! I have been wondering if any of you have some tips on camera operating in uncomfortable postures/positions, climate, etc. In my short years of operating my camera in low budget productions (it was an entry level DSLR, but yesterday had a shoot with my new BMPCC4k), I noticed that when I feel physically uncomfortable, be it by the heat of the tropic, running and gunning the camera for extended periods without aid, one man banding the camera department due to budget restrictions, handheld shots that require an uncomfortable pose for me to execute, etc etc, I usually I focus way more on that instead of building and composing the shot. I always power through but I wish I could focus more on actually DP'ing the shots with a clear head. Just from yesterday's shoot I am so physically tired. I guess its the side effects of not being active as much during this quarantine, but still, this was a problem before. Any recomendations? Probably hitting the gym will be No. 1 hahahah, but if there's any more practical advice, its welcome. Thanks!

Edited by Benjamin Guerrero
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22 hours ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

Put the camera down between takes to conserve your energy. Use the time in-between to pre-visualize the shots you want to get.

It seems so obvious now, but now that i think about it I never did that. Everything is so rushed in low-budget-one-man-band productions that something as basic as resting to conserve energy gets lost in the moment. I will keep it in mind going forward.

6 hours ago, Brian Drysdale said:

Keeping fit when you can't get out is part of it. If you can't go to the gym, doing exercises in your home can work. Long walks or going up and down the stairs for 15 minutes in bad weather will help. 

I knew this was coming hahahah, of course. Before quarantine I kept myself relatively fit by jumping from production to production, but since the pandemic hit, projects have been way more spaced out and for less shooting days, so my body fell out of the flow. Never been much of a gym geek myself, but I guess I have to be one for the sake of my job. My country is still under curfew regulations, and now with the holidays coming up its expected another infection cases spike. For the mean time, I will take your suggestion to heart and exercise from home.

Thanks for both of these suggestions. If anyone has any more tips on keeping focus under stress, it's absolutely welcome too!

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  • 1 month later...
  • Sustaining Member

Yes, excerise, resting periods, general sleep hygiene and deep proper pre production are the only ways to mitigate the fatigue of being a DP / operator.  But this situation is also a terrific reminder that these are in fact two separate jobs. Let's not forget this.

Obviously, if there is no money in the budget for an operator then you are stuck. And sometimes being a DP/ operator is actually the right decision . I did a movie last year where the director really wanted me to also operate. She felt more comfortable working this way. And her style of filmaking lent itself to this. But that meant that I needed to hire a gaffer who I could really lean on. He needed to be glued to the monitor during takes. That was a condition of his employment. I also often asked one of the producers to keep an eye on the monitor. When you operate you can only operate. You can't be thinking about the responsibilities of the DP. You need to be thinking about operating. The problem is you can't really be 100% at both jobs. Both jobs will suffer.

Sure, sometimes it's ok but it should be the exception and not the rule. 

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  • 5 months later...

I've been preaching the gospel of power lifting (weighted squats, bench, deadlift). Squats especially helped me with my handheld operating and overall stamina on set. Trouble is finding the time when you're working a lot! 


P.S. Also remember to stay hydrated!

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On 12/10/2020 at 12:19 PM, Brian Drysdale said:

Keeping fit when you can't get out is part of it. If you can't go to the gym, doing exercises in your home can work. Long walks or going up and down the stairs for 15 minutes in bad weather will help. 

Yes, you can do body weight exercises and yoga anywhere. I need to get back into it and work on terrible sleep as well. Last night was first time in a few weeks I got a solid 5.5 hours sleep. My goal has been 6.5 hours. Sometimes I get 3.5 hours. 

Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
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