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Michael Collier

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Michael Collier last won the day on October 19 2015

Michael Collier had the most liked content!

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About Michael Collier

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  • Birthday 11/28/1983

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  • Occupation
    Gaffer
  • Location
    Los Angeles, CA

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  1. It sounds like you're considering purchasing, so you're thinking the most likely use case is book light. If it's a book light a 1.2 fresnel or par is the way to go. If you're buying and you want something that fills one use case, and has potential for other things, I'd go 800 joker with a source 4, lens and bug a beam. But then again until I fell for the sky panel, a joleko was my favorite light. So I'm biased. TL;DR 1.2 for book light, 800 joleko if you can only afford one light in that price range. *edit: if you're buying used. Newer lights like the M18 is versatile in different ways.
  2. I thought I heard a rumor that in england, juicers are no longer allowed to ride in a condor. Not sure if I am remembering correctly, but I am sure I heard something like that about some European country. I am about to do two 80' condors tomorrow night on a SAG modified low budget, so it's not a crazy expensive setup. The cost for 3 nights of two condors is well under 8K. The real problem is cabling. If you're sending up (as I am) two 20Ks, a 9 light and a half dozen par cans, cabling becomes the real consideration, as well as labor to rig it in place. We've got almost a half mile of 2/0 and banded to make that happen, and that is low budget. I have been on sets where you have miles of 4/0 (sometimes 9 wire 4/0) to get power around set. Light is a pain in the ass, but it's a mistress I love. It takes quite a bit to light a very small location, and as things get bigger, all things become exponetially heavier. This includes wattage, cable length, lamp height and generator power. It gets out of hand very quickly. I'm amazed by the shots of NYC David posted, seems there is no opportunity to swing a turret, and limited opportunity to dance the condor up and down the block. The Jib must be critical in those scenarios to get lateral motion on the lamp. Even then a jib can only give you a few feet of fore/aft movement. Most of my experience with condors is in Alaska and New Mexico, where there is endless room to dance around, the only limitation being cable and where the camera is looking.
  3. LCDs have no interaction with magnatism. People used magnets to flip EVFs, because back before iPhones made MEMS motion sensors cheap, they used sensors that simply worked off gravity. The magnet activated the switch, making the LCD think it was upsidedown when it was upright. Over time, especially if the magnet doesn't move much, it won't impart much magnatism on anything, and what little it does won't be enough to do anything adverse to an LCD or related components. Very little electronics these days are affected by permanent magnatism. Things change when that magnatism changes polarity often or a permanent magnet moves against a low voltage, heavily amplified trace without a feedback circuit (which these days is almost never). Electronic design in the very few circuits that could be affected by magnetism or electromagnetic radiation when cell phones came into vogue. Magnets, even when moving, impart only a small fluctuation in most signal traces or wires, so it doesn't take much to design around these constraints. Almost all digital circuits are impervious to typical magnet induced current, or environmental EMI, because good luck getting a single short trace to absorb a 3.3v worth of magnetic induction from any magnetic or EMI source. (place a coil of high current, high voltage wire next to a wifi router. Odds are the range will be shortened, but it will still work reliably....unless you place it next to a 20K dimmer)
  4. But Richard, you're our insufferable bore. (and if Phil gets into a cage death match with you over the IB title, that would actually be pretty awesome. Neither insufferable, nor boring) I got my first LA job (after my other first LA jobs of doing camera prep for a reality show, and interviewing Ed Asner). I am gaffing a low budget film in a couple of weeks, and looking forward to new challenges. It is quite interesting, the differences between LA and Alaska. Over the last decade I have worked with mostly LA and NYC crews in Alaska and New Mexico, so the culture and workflow is familiar. There are two main differences I see. #1- everything is available, whenever you want it, and it can be delivered cheaply and on a moments notice. That is quite nice. #2- although Alaska wasn't quite bereft of regulation, there are necisarrily more rules in a major metropolitain. So I have to figure out how to do what I have always done, within a more stringent regulatory environment. Not a bad thing or an undue burden since I never cut corners on safety. But now it seems the opportunity to *cough* and do something in the grey area is a bit more limited. It will be fun to explore the lay of the land, and to quote Dr. Strangelove, I am filled with a spirit of bold curiosity for the adventure ahead! (also I hate parking in LA. I stay sheltered in Burbank as often as is practical)
  5. It certainly could have been that. The photofloods were ungelled, but dimmed down to almost nothing. The match between fire and artificial seemed to balance to eye and on monitor, and between MED and CU was constant. As the night went on, there was a marked change in the fill light when we went into the CUs, even though both were lit by only fire. The red shift wasn't so dramatic that I saw it during the night, but it was fairly apparent in the grade. It was much easier to see in the pictures I can't post. Our light (on mids and CUs at least) remained constant, how we fluffed the fire remained constant, it was true dark for all of it. Exposure remained constant, the only thing I can point to that gave such a dramatic difference was the coals. They don't give off any appriciable light given our light level and relatively low ISO, so IR is all I can pinpoint. After all the IR polution tests I have done, I wouldn't expect IR to shift skin red either. But if that isn't the case, I am at a loss to explain the change. My sense during the grade was there was something odd going on. When there was variation between kelvin in visible light (ratio of fire to photoflood), that was simple enough to grade away using the gain wheel. But with the later CUs it took a radical amount of correction on the wheels. The direction I was moving the wheel in while watching the skin tone gratical, was markedly more in the yellow direction than I had ever done before. Usually the wheel naturally goes more towards orange. Something felt very, very weird it almost felt like the light was non-kelvinic. which makes even less sense because both the fire and the photofloods, even if they dont match are definitely on the kelvin scale. If I applied the medium shot grade to the CUs, and applied a very small hue shift, everything fell into line. It was very odd, since I haven't ever seen that happen, and have never had a normal use for hue. (Sidenote-there was a long period of time between Med and CU due to an unfortunate moose visitor, allowing lots of extra coals to build up)
  6. So I am starting this thread to share an effect I came across on a film I shot recently. We were doing a campfire scene, and as we got more and more into the closeups, I started to light with actual fire more and more. The obvious bit I found-lighting with fire can be a hell of a lot of fun! Either having someone squeeze lighter fluid on the fire, or placing a coke can with the top cut off, half full of fluid really gives you the feeling of fire. Of course-it is fire. However there was one thing I could have probably remembered from science class, I didn't discover until the grade: most of fires heat is given off in the form of IR radiation. This causes the reds to saturate, and shift the overall hue of the light. In wides, I was lighting with 6- 212 & 211's aranged behind the fire, in a triangle made of 20" C-arms. In closeups (especially with our bespecaled charecter) we started going more and more to fire. In the color grade, that led to a VERY saturated red taking over skin tones. I corrected that with a 3deg hue shift, which to me made sense. Afterall, the extra IR would be shifting the hue outside of the visible range into the red, so a hue shift would bring it back. I tried doing it on the wheels, but the hue shift felt better to me. I thought I would pass along that discovery in the hopes that it someday helps someone out. Obviously if you are doing a shot with propane gas and concrete logs, it won't be as big of an issue, since it seems most of the heat of a fire (and thus IR) comes from the coals. But if you are doing a real wood fire, maybe consider adding a hot mirror to the camera package. I would have never thought to include that in the package, but I think from now on, if I see fire as a major light source, I will be using a hot mirror. I can't post pictures until the film comes out, unfortunately, but maybe once it does I can share some before and after grabs.
  7. C300s were really popular for a while. There are a few companies I could mention that shoot exclusively Z7 to this day. GoPros and 5Ds are ubiquitous. GH4 is getting thrown in the mix a lot lately. The last one I worked on was on FS7s with cabrio lenses. I expect those will be the new workhorses. A lot of shows are going to Log, which is nice. It used to be all F800 (XDCAM) and panasonic 3100s. But variety is insane. I have used a half dozen different camera systems in the same day many times. If I recall correctly, the only thing broadcasters mandate is a minimum bit rate that the camera uses (either 25 or 50). There is also a look that is baked into the pitch to network, so if you pitch a "cinematic reality" on a big sensor camera, you can't really go to a 1/3" camera, except for specialty shots. I've never shot 4K for reality, even when we use 4K cameras, they are set to record 1080. No production company wants to deal with the exta data and processing, if they won't be delivering in 4K. Frame rate is either 24 or 30, and that is decided by the DP/EP/Network. It seems these days there is quite a bit of color work done. Gone are the days of making sure your white ballance and paint settings produced an instantly broadcastable image. Now it is more common to do preset WB so the cameras match, shoot in log, and let the post color handle the final image. It isn't such a meat grinder that nobody cares about the look, but everyone who has something to do with the image and story is aware not to tip the hat and make it look "produced". There is a lot of work done to keep the verite feel. Each show finds their look along that continuum, but it all has to feel within the lineage of documentary, not narrative film.
  8. I moved from Alaska to LA just to be able to see this movie in 70mm. I don't think there is a single celuloid projector left in that state, let alone a 70mm. Maybe that is an exageration, but never let the truth get in the way of a good story. So archlight? Is that the call in LA for 70mm, or is there a better theater? (also did RR change from northface to canadian goose down? I don't think I can critisize him on any cinemagraphic choice, but good on him for the CGD. That certainly isn't a working mans Carhart. I've seen many a man start out with any other brand to find himself $1300 lighter with CGD as his armor)
  9. never fight the light of the location you find yourslef in. The main difference between the two shots you used as examples was where the light was relative to the the subject, and only by a matter of a few feet. There is a reason to use very tolpy light, just as there is a reason to use nice soft 3/4 light. You can push a director into staging for natural light. If the framing keeps that from happening, you can spin out the tubes in that unit, and place a 4x4 kino where you need it. But in every scene you need to make a call about where the key is coming from. Every other light should be meant to wrap that light (even if it doesn't make logical sense) or it needs to augment and stylize that key light. You are best served by deciding what the one light is that lights the scene (in the mind of the viewer) and then add lights that builds on that motif, without disabusing a viewer of that direcionality. I have learned that there is a lot you can get away with that doesn't make logical sense, but makes thematic sense, or sense within the overall structure of the image. You should always know where "the" light source is coming from, and that is usually informed by your DP, but so long as you aren't fighting against the gravity of the scene, there is a lot you can do to make the scene make sense, while also fulfulling the reqirments of lighting. Keep in mind the 3 things lighting must do: provide exposure for an image of appropriate value, compensate for the contrast difference between a camera and your eyes, and give the brain a logical representation of a 3D world in a 2D space. Those are the things lighting must do, what lighting can do is much more nuanced than that (OK, I stole that from cinematographer style. The point remains valid)
  10. Thanks Satsuki! If I remember right you were a new (although skilled) member when I left. I think it was you that posted about a short film/bar scene you lit with chineese lamps as pracitcals, and it was beautiful. If that isn't you, well I am finaly at an age and level of grey hair where I can blame that for failing memory. As for Phil -- oh yes I remember your name as well too. Not in a bad way of course, You were knowlegable and generous with that knowledge. I have a lot of knowlege about the craft that my previous location wouldn't support, and it comes from this site. Honestly that is the main reason I wanted to come back, as a way to give back to the comunity that made me able to (in the ironic words of a fantastic gaffer I worked for) "tread the line of adequecy" well before I had the experience to maintain adequecy. My tag line in LA is that if I could bust cable and lights in -40F, I should be able to do it in +76F. (I don't know F vs C as well as I should, but I do know that -40F and -40C is the same. I also know that wrapping cable at -40 anything is tough, and that a silver bullet 18K in anything below 0F needs its lower cooling vents covered with gaffe, otherwise wind can easily crack the double ended globe at the ceramic. Max18s and LTM fresnel 18s seem OK, and don't need any modification. If not, I worked the last season of breaking bad as a set lighting technician in +110F, so unless I want to work on murcury, I've got all climates covered.)
  11. All power is always over-over, clockwise. Usually for consistency I hold the female end in my left hand, with the hubble pointing backward. On each coil, you should be putting a very slight roll in the cable so it lays flat. When you get good, you should be able to tie the wraps, then connect the hubbles without on loop being any bigger or smaller than the others. The coil size should fit into a milk crate perfectly. I've never figure-8 a stinger, although I suppose you could. Its mandatory for 220 bates or 110 bates under load, as well as head feeders for big lights.
  12. So I bit the bullet and finally moved to LA. I drove 3500 miles from Alaska with a Jeep, a camera and an overloaded trailer. It was quite the adventure, and now I start the adventure to find work! We will see how that goes. It was great to login and find a lot of names I recognize. I am very happy David Mullen is still active, and that Adrian Sierkowski made the move as well. I've seen a few other names pop up, and I have only been trolling for a few hours tonight. Hopefully one day soon I'll be able to get out to one of the LA meetups, and share a pint with all of you. I am sure many of you don't remember me, it has been more than 4 years since my last post. If you do remember me, you might remember som of my wacky inventions that never really panned out, like the new electronics board for a CP-16: http://www.cinematography.com/index.php?showtopic=40779&hl= There was also a wireless dimmer invention, and an voltmeter that could automatically detect phases. While none of those made it to market, I did get a patent on the voltmeter, so I can always claim that I suppose. I also would post write ups on my early shorts, which is a shame, because looking back it is clear how much there was yet to learn. For fun here is an early post on my first "big budget" ($20K) short film. http://www.cinematography.com/index.php?showtopic=28690 Life got complicated, and I started doing a lot of Reality TV, so I kind of dropped off the radar. I did get a chance to do movies several times a year, but those opportunities were getting fewer and farther between. Moving here is a way to make a commitment to what I really want to do, gaffing and eventually cinematography. I have a feature film I gaffed that is premeiring at the Chineese Theater on Oct. 16 as part of the 8 Films to Die For series (shameless plug, followed by trailer plug, also bereft of shame: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soHRo3XCbzA ) Hopefully I will be more active on here, and now more useful, since I have had the opportunity to learn under some really great gaffers over the years I went dark.
  13. Also, it has a hertz meter built in. We are working with all tungsten and kino, so it hasn't been a big part of my day, but if I had a bunch of HMIs, I could see that being very useful.
  14. I've been besting on a feature, and due to a bad ammeter in the genny, I got production to agree to a kit rental for a clamp meter. I took the opportunity to pick up a Fluke 381. The obvious feature is the removable wireless display. It seems to be some sort of bluetooth/zigbee wireless scheme, ISM band so I assume it would work in other countries. Anyway, I got it for the wireless feature, and it has really been a timesaver. I might be more critical about genny balance than others, but since I had no way of monitoring it, this has been a big help in making the balance simple. most of the day I clamp onto the neutral just before the first distro, and keep the meter on my belt. While we light, I can take it out occasional and see how close I am. If the generator is in balance, it should read 0 amps. The more imbalanced, the higher the reading will climb. If it gets toward my safeline, I can check my hots with the meter (sadly I have to walk to distro for that) to find my low legs. The wireless feature comes in handy here because I can place it on the box and not have to contort myself to read a sideways meter clamped to a leg. The distance is alright, our main stage is 150x100, and it can almost reach anywhere. It definitely can't be clipped at the generator and reach through concrete walls. They claim 10m, and I would say it's at least that, if not twice that in a stage environment. The biggest problem from my perspective is the beep. It beeps when you hit one of the three buttons on the display (min/max, hold, and light). It will also beep while in min/max mode, when a new record is achieved (theoretically this would only happen during setups, by the time the take happens, the max would already be high). That said the beep is pretty quiet. I sometimes don't notice it myself, even during a quiet moment. It runs off of 3 AAA's in the meter, and 2 in the display (for the price I would have liked to have seen rechargeable cells). It's a Fluke, so you can bet it's accurate, and it measures true RMS, instead of just-RMS (which is handy when you have a lot of electric ballasts running. It will measure the power factor loss and harmonic currents better than an RMS meter, which assumes a perfect sine wave and linear loads) Also (and this is a simple reason to like a tool) I love the backlight they put in it. They are clean while LEDs (probably in the 5000K range.) The wash is even. It never blinds me when I am working in a dark corner, or seem too dim when walking taking readings in brighter areas. At a 1000 amps, it will cover just about any power drop (at least for shows that don't have a genny op to help you out.) One thing I've wanted to try (but haven't had a chance yet) was to use the inrush feature to figure out the striking current of bigger HMIs. Anyway, that's my impression of it. I need a good meter for other things, but I have been pretty happy with it.
  15. Hello All, Some of you might remember a project I was working on a few months back. The "Archimedes", an upgraded electronics package for the CP-16. In shame, I shut the door on that project, I had missed the market and probably would have lost money on it. Since then I have been working on a new project dubbed "The Smart Squeezer", built on an underlying technology I have developed that I call "Distributed Dimming". It is very close to being market ready. I won't go much into features and all that, but in brief it allows a crew to completely control a set from their iPhones and iPads. An app completely replaces the board, DMX cable and all of that, and allows crews to work through complicated setups, and dynamically adjust to the scene at hand. From a simple light switch gag, fire effects, TV projections, all the way to full set control, it streamlines the workflow for both 1st Unit Electric and the Rigging Crew. It's also great for VFX work. The aim was to give one tool to manage and control the entire light grid, and be flexible enough to adapt to the job roles of the crews. I have a prototype that I have built and tested. By tomorrow I will be in LA, taking meetings with interested groups. I need two things to get this to market, interested partners and industry feedback. If you work in the Electrical department I want to meet with you! If you own a rental house, I am all ears! I want to customize this to the needs of everyone, so it can hopefully become a universal tool. I will be in LA from March 19th - March 28th with taking meetings to showcase the power of Distributed Dimming. I have a busy schedule, but I want to meet with anyone who can give me feedback and advice. Feel free to email me at mike@randomacronym.com if you are interested in meeting up while I am down there. (And no, I won't release a price list, feature list or release date until I have production units in hand. I already learned that lesson)
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