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The Importance of Camera Prep

Gregory Irwin

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Camera prep is the most important part of the camera team’s job in order to ensure a successful shoot. But quite often, prep can be the most overlooked and mismanaged part of our jobs. 

Over the years, I’ve witnessed many ACs coming into a camera rental house without a plan. As we all know, preps can range from a day to several weeks, depending on the job’s requirements. Nevertheless, having a good prep plan is essential. Unfortunately, I quite often see other ACs beginning their preps without a comprehensive camera package in place on the first day. Producers like to know how much they will be spending on camera gear and they certainly don’t like surprises when it’s time to ship out of the rental house and they see a very different number than they were expecting due to the ACs constantly adding on gear they hadn’t previously disclosed. 

Camera packages, no matter how big or small, should be well thought out before reporting to prep. I like to spend ample time dedicated to building my camera packages on paper. I timestamp and assign a version number to each time I make changes to the package as information becomes available. I keep all relevant notes associated with the packages pinned to the various versions.

My packages and preps are sizable due to the big budget movies I do. My preps can range from 4 to 12 weeks long depending upon the movie’s requirements and the show’s budget. I may have 10 different versions of the camera package by the time prep commences. But by the time I start my prep on day one, that 10th version will not significantly change. The rental house is informed and the Cinematographer and producers are happy. All the heavy lifting is done and all we need to do is put it all together. My prep calendar has due dates so we all know where we should be as the prep goes along and we stay on schedule. When I tell the Cinematographer and producers when my “cameras ready” date is, I don’t change that. I also have all of the additional camera equipment separately scheduled along with all day play gear to be employed in advance. Of course, these will change or even be eliminated as the show goes on but my point remains the same. Budgets matter. Accuracy matters. Your camera department’s reputation depends entirely upon that. 

What are your thoughts?




Edited by Gregory Irwin
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