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Tony Muna

Questions about why AC's do what they do.

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Soft & Hard Tape:


What the main purpose between the two?


1) I when using the hard tape is when I'm near the camera and my 2nd is away, I could get quick measurements. At least within 12'. Or I use it with the 2nd at the talent if its within 16'


2) I normally use soft tape when I'm getting measurements to a talent with the tape has to travel between other talents.


I don't like pulling my hard tape to the talent because of the slight chance someone not hearing me call out "Hard tape is out!", and walk or avoid and potentially cut themselves. Also its harder to drop for me to receive without people staring because of the sound.


I have a laser distance finder if I'm just quickly pulling to my atmosphere. I'm sure its misused and I would like to know when and why


What's the "Industry Standard" when using each tape?



Space Blanket:

I was wondering who could fully explain to me why its used to cover the Camera during lunch with an Space Blanket? I do it but I don't know the history of it or the "Industry Standard" reason.


1) I was told that its to stops people from touching or being near a large red (whatever color, my space blanket is red) thing.


2) The purpose of a space blanket is to keep body temperature consistent, what's the purpose for the camera? To keep the temperature it was last used? Is it necessary for digital cinema cameras such as a camera that generates heat quick, like the R1?


3) I have seen someone cover the camera with a rain cover, exteriors on a complete sunny day. Makes sense but could it be substitute for the space blanket if it is indoors?


I understand that you don't want people to touch anything near the camera and chase away the lookie loos, but what is the "Industry Standard" reason why?



Cleaning the camera from dust:

I have not yet to see what is properly use to clean a camera from dust and use. I see on filmtools that baby wipes are sold under the AC tools and that's the only thing that makes sense to use to clean. I have not tried it, I would like to return the camera back to the house at the same conditions I got it. Guys at the house just say they use polishing cloths but I just wanted to hear it from the active 600 members.



Snatching the camera from DP/Camera Operator:


I was always taught that always make the lens point forward when throwing it on your shoulder while moving on, so receiving the camera from the camera operator, I sometimes find myself slightly twisting my arm (nothing to put me or the camera in harm) to receive it to have the lens pointing forward.

But then I sometimes come across some photos online seeing some lASTE600 peeps, they have the lens pointing back?


I can understand why you would want it facing forward not backwards, but which is the "Industry Standard"?



Walking with the Camera mounted on sticks:


I am so accustomed to having one leg forward, lock up the pan and tilt, double check the bridge plate lock, lower the monitor if walking indoors, adjust the pan handle, and swoop the camera having my shoulder under the pan handle.


But recently I was told by a veteran IASTE600, I saw him swoop the camera in the opposite side. He walked in front of the camera, tilted the camera down, lock the tilt, unlock the pan, rested his shoulder under the lens resting on the fluid head and then he stepped forward and started moving to the next setup.


When I asked he said it was what he was taught working with larger 35mm cameras. (He worked as an AC in the 80's to present)


I just want to know which is the "Industry Standard"



Camera on the cart without a mount:


Since I work on more indie shoots and no experience on union shoots, I don't have the luxury to get paid big to build my cart. So since I don't have a mount on my cart. When I'm in transpo with the camera on the cart, I always unplug the connections, adjust the OBM, tuck cables and other mechanical safely away, then I rest the camera on the its side. Then secure it with my two 5lb sandbags.


I have only seen AC's mount the camera on a Mitchell mount on their magliner but I don't know the solution for us indie guys.



Tightening your bridge plate/ tightening your mounting plate:


I was taught by a local600 guy, that when adjusting your mounting plate underneath the camera, just flip it on its top handle.


So when my mounting plate is ever loose on set and without a 2nd, I release the camera, take a knee, flip it on its top handle resting on my knee or on the cart, tighten, and then mount.


What's the "Industry Standard"?








- - - - - - - -

That's all I have right now but through out the day I always question which is the right and wrong way of doing what AC's do. If this gets a good response, maybe I'll ask more.


Thank you for sharing your experience and your knowledge. Your professional advice is always appreciated.


I have been Camera Assisting for a three years now for indie shoots and I have plans on try to continue my career in a much larger industry (LaLa Land), and I just want to know if I'm doing it right.


So yes, I am geeked out about being a good AC.

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If you are carrying a camera from one place to the other, you should carry it with the lens facing back so you don't run the lens into anything. A grip could be carrying a ladder and that would be ugly if the two collided. When an operator hands it off to an AC he is usually tired and it is easier for him or her to let it go backwards off his shoulder since the ac is usually close behind. Space blankets are to reflect heat not keep camera at any particular temperature. They are also used to keep the camera free of dirt and dust while crew is at lunch. I have used a cart to hold a camera on a hi-hat and I have used the ground since it can't fall any lower than the ground. But during travel, it never hurts to put the camera in its case. I have left it built on the bench where I have taken a short length of 2x4 and a base plate secured to the bench. To clean the camera I used canned air, a camel hair brush and cloth diapers depending on how dirty. You can use Armoral on a rag if need be. Carry sticks with the lens behind you facing down. There are a lot of industry standards but on your shoots, it's your department. You have to do what is right for you.The industry standard is the fastest way that doesn't take unnecessary risks.

Edited by Tom Jensen

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Thank you Tom for you reply.


I'll be posting more as I pile a group of questions together. Thanks again!

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Hard tape in close quarters, soft tape for longer distances where it may not be appropriate to point a laser at someone.


I have my space blanket silverside out, folded in half with two edges gaff taped together. That creates a tight seal on one end of the space blanket that I can wrap the front of the camera with, and tight it in the back with a clip. Keeps the camera cool if left in the sun, keep any dust from flying onto the camera, and it's highly visible so people don't knock it over.


I rarely give a camera a full cleaning. At wrap, it's the least of my concerns, unless it really got messed up out in the wilderness or something. Otherwise, I just give it a sweep with a camel hair paint brush, a few of puffs with the Dust Off and send it on its way. The rental house is going to clean it, regardless.


You're going to grab the camera, however it's delivered to you. Backwards or forwards doesn't matter.


Yes, that is how you carry a camera while on sticks.


Before I got a Mitchell mount, and a Ronford-Baker Quick Release, I used to c-clamp the high hat to the top of the cart. That way, I can put the head on the high hat, and move with the camera mounted that way.


How else are you going to tighten a BP?


Really though, an important rule, is to not overthink this stuff. Follow the lead of the experienced AC's you work with, and observe that these practices aren't so much an "industry standard" thing, but a safe & efficient means of working. It all becomes second nature after a while, and eventually you'll just do these things on reflex. Develop good habits.

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Thank you Jonathan for your response. I believe with many forum lurkers and mostly including myself, we appreciate the input and the professional advice.


I am gathering a bunch more methods that I have encountered and experienced on set for questioning.


I understand what's sufficient and go with the method of your 1st. There are somethings that come second nature already which is just the true basics but sometimes people think that you as a 2nd is a perfect fit for a 1st when everyone is booked up.

Now I've seen different ways, I don't bother my 1st while on the job... I just do my job and no questions unless there's time. But normally on the sets I'm stuck in, its a non-union indie indie shoot where my 1st is just always pissed off because he's on a crap-tastic film.


The bigger picture is that I am gearing up for a move to LA to try rolling the dice as a 2nd AC. I just want to be prepared to standards that aren't practiced in my city but its the norm else where.


A big thanks to you (Jonathan) and Tom for the great input.

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I'm not an assistant, never have been, so take my advice with a grain of salt. I think one of the most important things a 2nd AC can do is 'go with the flow'. If your 1st likes something done in a non-standard way and there is no harm in it, then do it. If an operator or DP has little quirks with how they do things, just roll with it. Of course, if someone is doing something that puts you in harms way or is dangerous to someone else then you should speak up, but in general that won't be the case. The best thing a 2nd can do is fit in and make everyone else's jobs a little easier. There are very few times a 2nd really needs to take a stand about anything. Learn as much as you can from the people you work with and use common sense and you should be fine.

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The bigger picture is that I am gearing up for a move to LA to try rolling the dice as a 2nd AC. I just want to be prepared to standards that aren't practiced in my city but its the norm else where.


A big thanks to you (Jonathan) and Tom for the great input.


The advice that Tom and Jonathan provided you is excellent. I would add one other suggestion:

get a copy of Doug Hart's excellent text "The Camera Assistant: A Complete Professional Handbook"



This book answers many of the questions you will have and is considered to be the "bible" for

ACs. This was my text when I took the UCLA Extension University course "The Craft of the Camera

Assistant" at Panavision, Hollywood. Doug Hart worked for Gordon Willis on many of Woody Allen's

films and is considered to be one of the best ACs in the business.


-Jerry Murrel

CineVision AR

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