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Matthew Kane

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About Matthew Kane

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    Electrician
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    Minneapolis, Minnesota

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  1. It's not difficult if you follow directions well and use a reliable source of information. The classic mistake with brake pads is not repressurizing them immediately after installation, which leads to a few moments of abject terror when the first few pumps on the brakes produce no result while you're rolling down the street (or god forbid, the freeway). That's one of those little details that often doesn't make it into repair manuals. I had to do alot of my own repairs when I first started freelancing to save money, and suffered no major disasters. But I'd still suggest you get an experienced friend to do it with you first. Strikes me as one of those "if you have to ask, the answer is no" kind of questions.
  2. Depends on the vehicle and which component you want to replace. If you're not mechanically inclined, the brakes system is not the place to start learning. Be comfortable with basic maintenance tasks before advancing, and get help from an experienced friend if you can.
  3. Check the current edition of the American Cinematographer's Manual for the textbook definition and charts for the Super35 format. When I was shooting 16mm in college (and framing through a dim, fuzzy optical viewfinder) I consulted the charts occasionally to find a hyperfocal distance between two subjects. Can't say I or anyone else I know has actually used these charts professionally since then. This would strike me as a pretty silly assignment, except for the fact that it's forcing you to research the topic and ask some questions.
  4. The Set Lighting Technician's Handbook is a must read. If you buy it, you'll reference it throughout your career. Some of it will probably go over your head at first, but it is a good way to prepare for bigger jobs. I remember that the chapter on DMX controlled lighting seemed very mysterious to me at first, but after I started working with it more, I was able to go back to the book and absorb more. If you can get on bigger commercials or features, you'll learn very quickly, better than any workshop. Observe, be helpful and people will be more likely to show you how to do what they do. Be honest if you don't know how to do something--"fake it til you make it" is not applicable to the set lighting or grip departments. Rentals houses are a great resource. I stopped in to Lights On in KC while on a road gig and everyone was very welcoming. They may be able to refer you to gaffers and key grips in the area. The IATSE local in your area may offer safety training or certification on aerial lifts to members. Learning from the books can give you a useful foundation, and it's wise to reference another source of info (even experienced technicians can form bad habits through lack of practice). As for specific lighting techniques and setups--you gotta learn by doing and observing the real thing. Knowing how the equipment works is pretty straight forward, but learning to anticipate setups, work ahead, and solve problems as they crop up (ie, how do I rig a speed rail under that HVAC conduit without taking all day about it) is the hard part.
  5. Label everything and check through the kit when it's returned. Let your clients know immediately if something is missing, and that the replacement cost of the missing item will be on the invoice (this also gives them a chance to find it in case it was just mislaid). Consider subrenting the kit through a local rental house. In my experience, people don't go hunting online to find a single piece of equipment--they'll want to rent their dolly from the same place they're getting lighting equipment or camera gear. Dana dollies are common enough that most cities with a rental shop can source them. Usually rental houses will take 10-30% of the rental fee, and pay you the rest. This also saves you the hassle of billing, processing credit cards, etc. Keeping the wheels clean is the most important part. Don't set rubber skate wheels on the ground. Everything else is pretty sturdy. Consider setting aside some money for replacement parts--as far as I know, no one has yet figured out a formula to stop people from abusing rental equipment. I've been told silicon lubricant is the thing to use for stands. Some people use a short tripod case to carry the stands and protect them from dirt and moisture.
  6. By professional, I just meant paid work. Or even "freebies" of good quality that achieved some visibility. You just don't want to try to pad your resume with student films or wedding video or something. I don't distinguish between union and non union work on my resume. If you're an IATSE member, go to meetings and network that way, and pay attention to your local's rules with regards to accepting non union work.
  7. Swiveliers could be handy, assuming those cans have a regular medium base. You can drop down from the socket and replace the bulb with an incandescent mushroom bulb that can be focused on the action as you like. Perhaps it'd look nice to swivel some of the bulbs to light the wall, rather than straight down. If you use the practicals this way, a selection of par38 or par20 bulbs (flood, spot, etc) would be useful. LED tubes (ie Quasar Science tubes) are a cheap rental, and can be stuck to the ceiling with zip ties or tucked above the drop ceiling tiles (or just taped to the ceiling--I can't tell if that's a drop ceiling or not). You can power them from a pignose adapter. If you're shooting a lot of improvised handheld shots, with unrehearsed blocking, where any part of the room could be in the scene at any time... just replace the bulbs with something you like, and take out bulbs as needed to to increase contrast on the camera side. That kind of camera work calls for a looser approach.
  8. Shame there's no way to know for sure. It'd be interesting to troubleshoot, but usually when I have these issues, there's no time for anything but swapping in a new unit or fixing it in camera like you did. It could even have been a damaged head cable I suppose. @phil, modern HMI gear can do amazing things, but not even a Ferrari works right if an important part is damaged or you're working outside the operating specs.
  9. Watching films is a great way to absorb the style of a given period. Is there a particular style you want to replicate? Don't overthink it too much--you can see from any screengrab where they placed the fixtures, and a lot of the techniques they pioneered have become cliches of studio lighting today. If we're talking about golden age hollywood, they often used the direct light of a fresnel lamp, rather than bouncing or pushing it through dense diffusions. It can be quite difficult to replicate that look on location today, without the luxury of wild walls or an overhead studio grid. You'll notice even in glamour photos of actresses that the shadows under their nose and cheekbones are often quite sharp. Art direction, makeup, and camera work also have a lot to do with the look, maybe even more than particular lighting techniques. You can get a "soft" lighting effect by carefully balancing two hard sources, with one wrapping around to the camera side of the scene. A large fresnel lamp has a certain quality of light that can often be approximated with a light diffusion like opal frost in front of a smaller head (like a baby or junior).
  10. I'm skeptical. Seems like a lot of marketing copy, and while I appreciate how No Film School usually presents a great sample of information, they tend to turn their hype machine into overdrive around NAB. Having enough light is rarely an issue. You don't use an 18k HMI because you need all that light to expose an image--you use it to keep the lighting consistent in a scene that might be shot in pieces hours or weeks apart. And shooting under ambient streetlight at night is already doable--and only gets harder if your focus puller has to follow focus wide open on a full frame sensor.
  11. If your intent is to create a contrast between two looks, perhaps the "unheightened" footage should be knocked down a little (desaturated or otherwise made a little more "boring") to accentuate the change. The intense greens in your screencaps seem to overwhelm the other parts of the picture, and the highlights seem overexposed, to the point that it's starting to look washed out rather than bright and colorful. Perhaps try a look with similar saturation, and bring down the overall gain so you can see more tonal depth?
  12. Option 1 is what I do. I generally only include credits in the department of the job I'm applying for (ie, that low budget commercial where I jumped on as a non union 2AC because I had a slow week, or my first on set job as a locations PA) doesn't belong on my resume for set lighting jobs. I would suggest that short films (at least those that haven't won major awards) or videography gigs should fall off the resume as soon as you have 8-12 professional/industry credits. If you have some niche skill (like scuba training, rock climbing, extensive experience with high speed cameras, infrared photography), I'd list it in it's own category ("Other Skills"). If you have a few professional credits under your belt, it must be taken for granted that you're experienced with the most common equipment encountered in that role. Hopefully, once you get the ball rolling, you'll get most of your work through recommendations, and the resume will become less important, but always good to keep it up to date.
  13. The best two camera shoot I've ever done was a low budget indie feature, where the director meticulously storyboarded almost every setup, and the gaffer, DP, and sound recordist made special arrangements to shoot opposing angles for some scenes (ie, having a second or third boom op, scheduling time to rig overhead lighting, etc). And even then, there were lots of times when B camera would stand down. Some scenes just don't require a bunch of extra coverage, or it's more important to get the timing of each shot right. The sound recordist often asked us not to shoot a wide at the same time as a closeup, to make sure the closeup got decent coverage from the boom. Alot of episodics shoot two cameras in tandem, and inevitably there are compromises in lighting or sound capture, but it seems it can still save a bit of time if you're strategic about it (ie, if a scene is mostly going to be covered with VO, foley, or music, then you can take a bit of a hit on the production sound). At least, that's what I gather.
  14. What was your power supply? By any chance, was it a high speed ballast? I'd be curious if the problem persisted at 1000hz. Was the flicker visible in the footage, or just on the waveform? Also, did any other fixtures exhibit the same behavior? I've never had any differing performance between 24fps and 23.98, even with magnetic ballasts, old globes, etc. If there was a long run of stingers to the ballast, line loss might have been the culprit. Or perhaps an appliance or piece of equipment with a ground fault was on the same circuit. Faulty mains wiring or malfunction at the generator can cause headaches too. Also--maybe the bulb was not fully seated? I'd love to know if you figure it out--always good to learn from other's experience rather than first hand. If the fixture was marked NFG and sent back, maybe the rental house has an idea.
  15. Hopefully I won't get filled with buckshot for saying so, but if crowdfunding makes it through its adolescence, it could become a downright mainstream way for producers of "independent" content (particularly those that aren't motivated primarily by capturing a lowest common denominator market) to get the funds to make a film. It brings philanthropy into the realm of an impulse buy, and instead of promising investors a massive return, it works more like preselling a concert venue. The finished product is the return, and producers who can reach out effectively and return a watchable film consistently will garner a stronger reputation than the ones who jump right in without a plan. For my own part, I'd always make the first perk of a crowdfunding campaign a free pass to the content itself. I hate the ones where they ask you to pay twice. ...Not to say you'll have a new generation of media moguls incubated on Kickstarter, but it may lead to a respectable living for a small niche of filmmakers.
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