Topics

Teaching ACing


Souki Belghiti
 

Hello everybody.
Hope everyone is well in those trying times.
I am supposed to give a class on ACing soon. (5 days)
My plan is a little recap on how the camera department was organized, (first, second, data wrangler and depending on the countries the video assist part or not of the camera team)with each one responsibilities and how to, a little tech recap on depth of field, monitoring and LUTS, the importance of camera tests, and then practical exercises with rack focus, and following people, with different lenses and different stops, first on a tripod, then on tracks and then handheld, while insisting on set-etiquette.
(The camera is an F3, it's the students 3d year, they're about 20 years old with dreams of glory and fortune, and don't know much about the realities of the field, is what I am told)
Does it sound appropriate?
Any other thing you'd suggest?
As always, thank you CML!


Daniel Henríquez-Ilic
 

That sounds like an interesting class.
I would suggest adding an exercise (sequence shot) on film,  with one cartridge of 50 feet of Super-8 with Vision3 200T or 500T
color negative stock (or on a reversal stock), if possible.

Here's a free app from Kodak (available for both iOS and Android operative systems) that features a depth of field calculator:

All the best,
Daniel Henríquez Ilic
Film Cinematography
Santiago de Chile


El vie., 4 sept. 2020 a las 19:09, Souki Belghiti (<soukiac@...>) escribió:
Hello everybody.
Hope everyone is well in those trying times.
I am supposed to give a class on ACing soon. (5 days)
My plan is a little recap on how the camera department was organized, (first, second, data wrangler and depending on the countries the video assist part or not of the camera team)with each one responsibilities and how to, a little tech recap on depth of field, monitoring and LUTS, the importance of camera tests, and then practical exercises with rack focus, and following people, with different lenses and different stops, first on a tripod, then on tracks and then handheld, while insisting on set-etiquette.
(The camera is an F3, it's the students 3d year, they're about 20 years old with dreams of glory and fortune, and don't know much about the realities of the field, is what I am told)
Does it sound appropriate?
Any other thing you'd suggest?
As always, thank you CML!


bjdzyak@...
 

When I wrote my book about every job on a working set, I began writing about the camera department.  The book breaks down every thing the jobs are defined as, what they REALLY entail, what an AC (etc) should wear, what they do every moment of the day, and how to move up to the next classification. 

Available in print and on Kindle!   https://www.amazon.com/What-Really-Want-Set-Hollywood/dp/0823099539/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&qid=1599273046&refinements=p_27%3ABrian+Dzyak&s=books&sr=1-1

It should help you organize the class and give a jumping off point for more detail that you refer to.

Brian Dzyak, Cameraman/Author/Screenwriter
www.dzyak.com
Los Angeles
IATSE Local 600/SOC


Roy H. Wagner ASC
 

I personally believe a first class should be about set procedure. Why there are various assistants. What there job description is. You should teach the hierarchy of the original system which started in the camera loading room (before you EVER were allowed in a set). What a loader is, a camera tech (which began with Technicolor and is how we established the “tech rate”. How all functions go up the “chain of command”. I know it sounds old fashioned but it’s an incredible way of having a long career. Set politics between the assistant and other crew members; especially department heads, actors, director, assistant director, producer and director of photography. 
You can be the finest assistant technically but if you fail set grace you will not survive. 
After that I think understanding how to prep a camera, what to look for, how cases are assembled, the importance of closed cases. Why an assistant should find the sweet focus spots on a lens - especially anamorphic. How to clean a lens. What the various cables do. Light Measurement and how it relates to the lens. Of course depth of field. The importance of proper “lab” reports. Assembly of a camera. Protecting for flares. The importance of data wrangling and how critical that interface is between production and post. 
So many things to know. I don’t envy you. 
Roy
Roy H. Wagner ASC
Director of Photography
Honorary Fellow Royal Photographic Society
AMPAS, SMPTE
(310) 614-8362
rhwasc@...

On Sep 4, 2020, at 10:30 PM, Daniel Henríquez-Ilic <dhisur@...> wrote:


That sounds like an interesting class.
I would suggest adding an exercise (sequence shot) on film,  with one cartridge of 50 feet of Super-8 with Vision3 200T or 500T
color negative stock (or on a reversal stock), if possible.

Here's a free app from Kodak (available for both iOS and Android operative systems) that features a depth of field calculator:

All the best,
Daniel Henríquez Ilic
Film Cinematography
Santiago de Chile


El vie., 4 sept. 2020 a las 19:09, Souki Belghiti (<soukiac@...>) escribió:
Hello everybody.
Hope everyone is well in those trying times.
I am supposed to give a class on ACing soon. (5 days)
My plan is a little recap on how the camera department was organized, (first, second, data wrangler and depending on the countries the video assist part or not of the camera team)with each one responsibilities and how to, a little tech recap on depth of field, monitoring and LUTS, the importance of camera tests, and then practical exercises with rack focus, and following people, with different lenses and different stops, first on a tripod, then on tracks and then handheld, while insisting on set-etiquette.
(The camera is an F3, it's the students 3d year, they're about 20 years old with dreams of glory and fortune, and don't know much about the realities of the field, is what I am told)
Does it sound appropriate?
Any other thing you'd suggest?
As always, thank you CML!


Andy Hoehn
 

 Souki Belghiti
Sep 4   
 
"I am supposed to give a class on ACing soon. (5 days)"

Are you teaching this in 5 days or is the class 5 days long?  I would stress to them that there's so much to learn in the camera department.

Let them know it takes years to become proficient at each position and they shouldn't expect to be a Digital Utility or Loader for a few months and then move up to being a Second Assistant.  Or a Second for a year and then move up to pulling focus.  The more you learn and the more experience you have the better you can do your job.

I've been a First Assistant for 30 years and I've always felt that it take 5-7 years of pulling focus to become a qualified, proficient First AC.


Andy Hoehn
First Assistant
Atlanta, GA


Mark Sasahara
 
Edited

Hey Souki,
 
I've been working with some young guys and try to pass on my knowledge. Here are some things:
 
 
Teach them to have good Set Ears and stay off their phones. Be listening to the DP and Director. Be prepared to act. You shouldn't be standing around with your hands in your pockets. Unless the camera is rolling, there is probably something that you can be doing. 
 
Congratulations, you're in sales! The product is you! 
 
Talk to each other. Communication is key. Nothing worse than not being ready when action is called, or not being in sync w/ the team. That said, don't be yelling across set, or talking over people. If possible use comms, or walk over to that person and let them know. Especially if the client is there. You don't want to be yelling to the DP/Director, "Hey man, you're a stop over!" 
 
 
This is more than just knowing about cameras. It's knowing how to be, who to be and understanding your place in the food chain. Have outside interests, sometimes that can be helpful in getting a job, building relationships, etc. Be three dimensional. Being a movie buff helps. Lots of things to watch, in order to learn the language of film and enjoy.
 
No plan survives contact with the enemy. Be prepared to punt. 
 
Say "Yes" and then figure it out. Fake it 'til you make it. That can work most of the time, but also recognize when you're out of your depth and maybe pass, or suggest another person. Sales!
 
Which leads to don't be a dead end. Be able to suggest at least one other person that the Production Manager can call. They will appreciate it and maybe, they might remember that you helped them. Sales!
 
Positive attitude and never stop learning. There is always more to learn, on every level. Keep your eyes and ears open. There is always more to learn about, tech, the biz, relationships, how to interact, logistics, Sales! Etc. Watch what the Adults are saying, doing and how they're acting. Set dynamics.  
 
Learn to estimate distances. Are there things like tiles, or panels you can measure and then calculate longer distances? Knowing how long your arm length is, shoulder to fingertips. How long are both arms stretched out, legs, stride, etc. Use a tape measure and start to stand x number of feet from something, to get an idea of distance. Try a few different distances.
 
Be fast, efficient and friendly. 
 
Is it ok to talk to the talent? How do they like to be addressed? If you are slating, talk with the folks in your department and find out if it is ok to have the slate in front of their face, to the side, closer to camera, etc. Slating etiquette.
 
Be able to quickly call and mark a slate and have it be heard by sound and seen by camera.
 
Have info like manuals, apps and charts on your phone, but the catch is to not be on the phone. Hopefully, you've already read the manual. Maybe let folks know you are reviewing info. If you are trading emails about a job, let people know and let the person you're communicating with know that you're working and that replies may not be instantaneous. Maybe wait until lunch to continue.
 
Lift w/your knees, not your back.
 
Ask the person if they need help, don't just jump in. That's how fingers get crushed, or broken and other bad things.
 
RTFM
 
If you fuck up, quietly let the person above you know. For example if you buzzed the focus let the Operator, or DP know. They'll ask for another, or maybe it's up to you to ask. Don't be afraid to ask for another take. 
 
Dress professionally. I'm old school, I wear a shirt with a collar. I like boots, or trail shoes for better support. I know holes in the jeans are popular, but my theory is that we're professionals, look and act like one.
 
Own Foul weather gear, like a rain suit. Sun gear, hat, sun screen/block, etc. Make it a habit to always check the weather for the location(s). 
 
Which leads to Equipment covers. Have a space blanket and some clips, Bongo Ties and bungees help, or various other plastic camera/gear covres. Or, a couple of good ole trash bags.
 
Be thinking ahead, what's needed next? Are they going to call for a new lens? Turn around? Go to dolly, etc.
 
PPE: in addition to COVID protocols; safety glasses and good ear plugs 3M Tek is good. Something with a case and string that connects the plugs lets them live on you, when not in use.
 
Have a basic AC kit: pouch and belt; Lens tissue, Pancro, microfiber lens cloths, markers, Sharpie, ballpoint pen for paper work, a slot edge screwdriver for tie downs, gloves, multi tool, tape measure, L shaped SAE and metric allen keys. I have a mini set that lives in my pouch, in addition to a regular sized set. Maybe Torx 9 & 10 in addition to a Torx set. Plus a lot of colored tapes, spike, Gaff, etc. Laser tape measure is also good. Leica Disto is best, probably Stabila too, also German. Bosch is a good lower cost alternative. It's best not to point a laser at people. If you must, point at people's feet and ask them to close their eyes. Be sure it's pointing down, when you turn it on. 
 
They should also learn the ways of Lighting & Grip and basic DIT/Data Wrangling. Possibly sound too. On corporate shoots, I am often doing sound, so knowing that and how to hide a lav are invaluable. Crews are often so small, that everyone is doing everything. Plenty of video on YT and tons of websites, etc. Lots of good books, too, Set Lighting Technician's Handbook, The Grip book, etc. Dave  David Elkins' AC Book, Stumps's Cinematography book, the ASC Manual, etc. Evan Luzi's https://www.theblackandblue.com/ . There's new stuff up, including a mssg from Jennifer Garner to AC's.
 
That's all I have at the moment.
 
-Mark Sasahara, DP, NYC
  marksasahara@...
   718-440-1013
    http://msasahara.com
Sorry for accidentally double posting. I deleted the previous post, since there were typos and I added some stuff. -M 


On Fri, Sep 4, 2020 at 10:09 PM Souki Belghiti <soukiac@...> wrote:
Hello everybody.
Hope everyone is well in those trying times.
I am supposed to give a class on ACing soon. (5 days)
_._,_._,_


 

 


Mark Sasahara
 

I forgot to mention: The most precious commodity on a film set is TIME. The faster and more efficient you are, the more time there will be to shoot.

-Mark Sasahara, DP, NYC


Daniel Colmenares
 

Sounds like a good curriculum, I would like to throw in my two cents and say


Prep - it's the most important part of the job. 
How to properly prep a camera package.
How to check lens back focus
How to set up wireless follow focus systems, wireless video systems.
How to set up the camera for multiple set ups (tripod, handheld, steady, specialty (gimbal, car rigs, etc)
How to label everything (slate, camera, media, filters)

For on set - really emphasize thinking ahead (power, media, sticks, lenses, filters should always be near camera on a cart or on a go bag). Active listening to the DP, and the proper way to change lenses quickly and safely (slow is smooth smooth is fast). 

Also please emphasize respect and comraderie towards other departments. I still AC quite a bit and I will chew out any second that brings the "camera dept superiority complex" to my set. In particular with the sound department. The sound mixer is a dept head and should be treated with respect. 


vivianjxavier@...
 

True. 



Sent from myMail for iOS


Saturday, 5 September 2020, 14:31 -0400 from Mark Sasahara <marksasahara@...>:

I forgot to mention: The most precious commodity on a film set is TIME. The faster and more efficient you are, the more time there will be to shoot.

-Mark Sasahara, DP, NYC


Mitch Gross
 

Prep, prep, prep.  That means thinking ahead. My favorite ACs always did the following without me having to ask or even think about it. 

- When prepping the kit at a checkout think of all the ways the DP may want to use it so that the proper accessories are there. Then organize and label in a system that makes sense for you to function quickly and efficiently. 

- During production it means checking the schedule to make sure there’s nothing coming up that you might need to bring in extra gear for, or need to arrange the gear differently. 

- At the start of each day it means checking the call sheet and/or shot list/boards to make sure you’re anticipating the DP’s needs for the day. Starting handheld v on the dolly with the big zoom? Huge difference in setup. 

- As the day progresses always be anticipating what the DP might need and have it ready to go or standing by to swap in. If the next shot is going to be a low angle, the hi hat better be standing by, along with an apple box for the Operator to sit on and any accessories needed to rig the camera appropriately (used to need an extension viewfinder so the Operator didn’t have to hunch over, but now it means a small monitor for her).

Anticipating needs cannot be valued enough. You make the day go faster, the work go easier, and you always look like a magical hero. 

Also, stress the value of good paperwork. Camera reports, equipment inventory, time sheets (gotta get paid!), case labels, call sheets (from the AD but for your team), talent cheat sheet (actor’s name next to character name, to help your Operator) taped to the side of the camera. Camera Dept. is supposed to be full of anal-retentive who like everything clean, organized and precise. Paperwork is absolutely a big part of that and when you’re starting out it’s what you’ll spend a lot of time doing. 


Mitch Gross
New York

On Sep 5, 2020, at 6:19 PM, Daniel Colmenares <dcolmenares@...> wrote:


Sounds like a good curriculum, I would like to throw in my two cents and say


Prep - it's the most important part of the job. 
How to properly prep a camera package.
How to check lens back focus
How to set up wireless follow focus systems, wireless video systems.
How to set up the camera for multiple set ups (tripod, handheld, steady, specialty (gimbal, car rigs, etc)
How to label everything (slate, camera, media, filters)

For on set - really emphasize thinking ahead (power, media, sticks, lenses, filters should always be near camera on a cart or on a go bag). Active listening to the DP, and the proper way to change lenses quickly and safely (slow is smooth smooth is fast). 

Also please emphasize respect and comraderie towards other departments. I still AC quite a bit and I will chew out any second that brings the "camera dept superiority complex" to my set. In particular with the sound department. The sound mixer is a dept head and should be treated with respect. 


Geoff Boyle
 

This week we'll follow a hot topic on cml.news and that's AC's, what do they need to know and what's the best way forwards for an AC?
 
LAX 9am, NYC noon, LDN 5pm, AMS 6pm, BOM 9:30pm, BKK 11pm
 
https://zoom.us/j/94426303343
 
-- 
Cheers 

Geoff Boyle NSC FBKS
Sysadmin
Netherlands


Geoff Boyle
 

I've uploaded last nights conversation on this:-

https://cinematography.net/CML-Web-Discussions-ACS-what-do-they-need-to-know-9th-September-2020..html

--
Cheers
Geoff Boyle NSC FBKS
EU based cinematographer
www.gboyle.nl