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The Camera Assistant's Manual


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Product Details

Table of Contents

Preface xvii

Acknowledgments xxi

Introduction xxv

1 Basics of Cinematography 1

Film Formats 1

Single Perf or Double Perf 2

Videotape and Digital Shooting 4

Aspect Ratios 4

Shots and Composition 8

Film Stock 12

Emulsion 13

Base 13

Anti-halation Backing 14

Types of Film 14

Negative Film 14

Reversal Film 14

Film Speed 15

Sync Speed 16

Exposure Time 16

Exposure Meters 17

Color Temperature and Color Balance 19

The Camera 20

Gate 21

Intermittent Movement 21

Pull Down Claw 22

Registration Pin 22

Aperture Plate 23

Pressure Plate 23

Shutter 23

Shutter Angle 24

Inching Knob 25

Viewing System 26

Diopter Adjustment 26

The Lens 27

Primes and Zooms 28

F-stops and T-stops 28

Magazines 30

Motor 30

Batteries 30

Additional Camera Components 31

Sync and MOS 32

Filters 32

Conversion Filters 33

85 Filter 34

80 A Filter 34

Neutral Density Filters 34

Polarizing Filters 35

Combination Filters 35

Optical Flat 35

Diffusion Filters 36

Fog and Double Fog Filters 37

Low-Contrast Filters 38

Soft-Contrast Filters 38

Ultra-Contrast Filters 38

Coral Filters 38

Enhancing Filters 39

Graduated Filters 39

Diopters 39

Filter Manufacturers 40

Camera Mounts 40

Tripods and Spreader 40

High Hat/Low Hat 42

Tripod Heads 42

Fluid Head 42

Gear Head 43

Steadicam 44

Dolly 45 2 The Camera Department 48 Film Productions 48 Director of Photography 49 Preproduction 51 Production 52 Postproduction 52 Camera Operator 52 Preproduction 53 Production 53 First and Second Assistant Cameramen 54 First Assistant Cameraman (1st AC or Focus Puller) 54 Preproduction 54 Production 55 Postproduction 56 Second Assistant Cameraman (2nd AC or Clapper/Loader) 56 Preproduction 56 Production 57 Postproduction 58 Film Loader 58 Preproduction 58 Production 59 Digital Productions 59 Digital Imaging Technician (DIT) 60 Video Controller 60 Camera Utility 61 Digital Utility 62 Digital Loader/Data Manager 62 3 Camera Trainee and Camera Production Assistant (PA) 64 Preproduction 65 Working with the Film Laboratory 66 Obtaining Laboratory Supplies 66 Choosing and Ordering Expendables 66 Preparation of Camera Equipment 66 Preparation of Camera Truck 67 Production 67 Start-of-the-Day Procedures 67 Camera Reports 68 Recording Shot Information 69 Marking Actors 69 Slates and Slating 69 Changing Lenses, Filters, Magazines, and Accessories 70 Using a Video Tap and Monitor 70 Record Keeping and Filing of Paperwork 70 Packing Equipment 71 Tools and Accessories 71 Camera Trainee and PA Tips 71 4 Second Assistant Cameraman (2nd AC) and Film Loader 74 Preproduction 75 Working with the Film Laboratory 76 Obtaining Laboratory Supplies 77 Choosing and Ordering Expendables 78 Preparation of Camera Equipment 79 Preparation of Camera Truck 80 Preparation of Darkroom 81 Production 82 Start-of-the-Day Procedures 83 Setting Up the Camera 84 Organizing Equipment 85 Film Stocks 87 Film Stock Packaging Sizes 89 Camera Reports 90 Recording Shot Information 102 Magazines 104 Loading Magazines 106 Unloading Magazines 115 Using a Changing Bag or Changing Tent 119 Marking Actors and Camera Positions 122 Slates 127 Slating Procedures 132 Changing Lenses, Filters, and Magazines 137 Using a Video Tap and Monitor 140 Preparing Exposed Film for Delivery to the Lab 140 Shipping Film (Exposed and Unexposed) 144 Film, X-Rays, and Carrying Film on Planes 144 Ordering Additional Film Stock 145 Using Short Ends and Recans 147 Storage and Care of Motion Picture Film 148 Unexposed Film 148 Exposed Film 149 Film Inventory and Record of Film Shot 149 Completing Film Inventory Forms 152 Distribution of Reports 170 Record Keeping and Filing of Paperwork 170 Performing the Duties of First Assistant Cameraman 172 Packing Equipment 172 Tools and Accessories 173 2nd AC/Loader Tips 174 Resources 181 Postproduction 181 Wrapping Equipment 182 Working in Digital Video 182 Preproduction 183 Production 184 Setting Up the Camera 185 Camera Reports 185 Magazines 186 Marking Actors 187 Slates and Slating Procedures 187 Moving the Camera and Setting Up the Video Monitor 189 Preparing Media Cards and Hard Drives 189 Ordering Additional Media Cards 190 Storage and Care of Media Cards 190 Videotapes, X-Rays, and Magnetic Fields 190 Tools and Accessories 191 Postproduction 191 Wrapping Equipment 191 Review Checklist for Second Assistant Cameraman (2nd AC or Clapper/Loader) 192 Preproduction 192 Production 192 Postproduction 193 Review Checklist for Film Loader (Loader) 194 Preproduction 194 Production 194 5 First Assistant Cameraman (1st AC) 195 Preproduction 195 Choosing Camera Equipment 196 Choosing and Ordering Expendables 196 Preparation of Camera Equipment 197 The Rental House 199 Camera Prep Checklist 202 Production 222 Start-of-the-Day Procedures 223 Loading and Unloading Film in the Camera 225 Keeping the Camera Clean 226 Oiling and Lubricating the Camera 226 Setting the Viewfinder Eyepiece 228 Lenses 233 Prime Lenses and Zoom Lenses 234 Checking for Lens Flares 237 Depth of Field 239 F-stops and T-stops 250 Changing Lenses, Filters, and Accessories 253 Focus Measurements and Following Focus 255 Getting Your Marks 261 Focusing Tips 263 Zoom Lens Moves 268 Shooting the Shot 269 Footage Readings 270 Checking the Gate 271 Moving the Camera 273 Performing the Duties of Second Assistant Cameraman 274 End-of-the-Day Procedures 275 Packing Equipment 275 The Walkaway 275 Tools and Accessories 276 Using Computers and Technology 277 1st AC/Focus Puller Tips 280 Resources 290 Postproduction 290 Wrapping Equipment 291 Working in Digital Video 291 Preproduction 292 Choosing and Ordering Expendables 293 The Rental House and Preparation of Camera Equipment 293 Production 293 Setting Up the Camera 294 Loading and Unloading Media Cards into the Digital Camera 295 Swapping Hard Drives 296 Lenses (Primes and Zooms) 296 Checking for Lens Flares 296 Focusing and Depth of Field 296 Moving the Camera 300 White Balancing 300 Tools and Accessories 300 Postproduction 301 Wrapping Equipment 301 Review Checklist for First Assistant Cameraman (1st AC or Focus Puller) 301 Preproduction 301 Production 302 Postproduction 303 6 Problems and Troubleshooting 304 Camera Problems 306 Camera Will Not Run 306 Camera Does Not Stop When Switched to "Off" 308 Camera Starts and Stops Intermittently 308 Camera Stops While Filming 309 Camera Is Noisy 310 Shutter Does Not Spin (No Flicker Seen through the Viewfinder) 311 Unable to Thread Film into the Gate Area 311 Camera Door Does Not Close 311 Film Jams in Camera 312 Film Rips or Has Torn Perforations 312 Film Loses Loop 312 Camera Does Not Run at Sync Speed 312 Viewing System Is Blacked Out 313 A Fuse Blows When Connecting Electrical Accessories 313 When Shooting a Television Monitor or Computer Screen, a Roll Bar Moves through the Screen 314 Magazine Problems 314 Film Cones When Removing from Magazine 314 Film Does Not Take Up 315 Magazine Is Noisy 316 There Are Scratches on the Film 316 Lens-Related Problems 317 Lens Will Not Focus 317 Image Is Fogged When Looking through Viewfinder 319 Zoom Lens Motor Runs Erratically 319 Zoom Lens Does Not Zoom throughout Its Entire Range of Focal Lengths 319 Lens Flares Are Seen When Looking through the Viewfinder 320 Unable to Adjust F-stop/T-stop 320 Battery Problems 321 Battery Loses Power 321 Battery Will Not Hold Charge 321 Video Assist Problems 321 Image on Video Monitor Is Out of Focus or Is Tilted to the Side 321 There Is No Image on Video Monitor 322 Tripod and Head Problems 322 Tripod Head Does Not Pan or Tilt 322 Tripod Legs Do Not Slide Up or Down 322 Weather and Environmental-Related Problems 323 Shooting in Extreme Cold Weather 323 Shooting in Extreme Heat 323 Filming in or Around Salt Water and Camera and Magazine Fall into the Water 324 Color Balance/Filter Problems 324 Filters Don't Fit in Matte Box 324 Shooting Outside Using Tungsten-Balanced Film Without an 85 Filter 325 Shooting Inside with Tungsten Light Using Daylight-Balanced Film Without an 80A Filter 325 Developed Image Problems 326 Projected Image Is Shaky or Unsteady 326 Projected Image Is Out of Focus 326 Projected Image Contains Spots or Lines 327 Image Is Not Aligned During the Video Transfer 328 Shooting in Foreign Countries 328 Shooting in Countries Using a Different Electrical System 328 Troubleshooting Tips 328 7 Film Cameras 330 Aaton A-Minima 331 Aaton Xtera and XTR-Prod 332 Aaton 35-III 333 Aaton Penelope 334 Arriflex 16 SR1, 16 SR2, and 16 SR3 335 Arriflex 416 336 Arriflex Arricam Lite (LT) 337 Arriflex Arricam Studio (ST) 340 Arriflex 235 342 Arriflex 535A and 535B 343 Arriflex 435 345 Arriflex 35BL3 and 35BL4 347 Arriflex 35-3 348 Arriflex 765 352 Moviecam Compact and Moviecam Super America 353 Moviecam SL 356 Panavision Panaflex 16 358 Panavision Panaflex Gold and GII 360 Panavision Panaflex Millennium and Millennium XL 362 Panavision Panaflex Platinum 364 Panavision Panastar II 366 Panavision Panaflex 65 367 Panavision 65 mm High Speed 369 Panavision 65 mm Handheld 371 Photo-Sonics Actionmaster 500 372 Photo-Sonics 1VN 373 Photo-Sonics 35-4B/4C 374 Photo-Sonics 35-4E/ER 376 Photo-Sonics 35-4ML 378 8 Before, During, and After the Job 379 Union or Non-Union 379 IATSE and Local 600 381 Joining the Union 382 Before the Job 386 The Resume and Business Cards 387 Email and Web Sites 392 The Job Interview 393 The Deal Memo 396 During the Job 397 On-Set Etiquette 403 After the Job 404 Invoicing and Time Cards 404 The Next Job 409 Networking 410 The Freelance Filmmaker and Taxes 411 Appendix A Film Stock 419 Appendix B Equipment, Software, and Apps 422 Appendix C Camera Department Checklists, Production Forms, and Labels 442 Appendix D Tools, Accessories, and Expendables 493 Appendix E Tables and Formulas 518 Recommended Reading 551 Glossary 558 Index 586

About the Author

David E. Elkins, SOC has over 25 years of professional experience as a Camera Operator and First Assistant Cameraman, working on feature films, television series, commercials, music videos, educational films, industrial films and much more. He is an active member of the International Cinematographers Guild Local 600 and Society of Camera Operators.


"David Elkins is an elite craftsman who really knows his stuff! The Camera Assistant's Manual, Sixth Edition contains all of the essential, up-to-date information on how to fulfill the duties of a Camera Assistant with complete professionalism. If you aspire to a career in the camera department, this is a must own book!"
-Randolph Sellars, Director of Photography and Founder at Reel Pro Mentor

"This new edition of The Camera Assistant's Manual blends technical information with descriptive procedural narration that will help you be in the right place at the right time and perform those duties that are expected of you as a member of a camera crew. If you are an aspiring cinematographer, by all means, put this book at the top of your reading list, and if you've been in the business for years, but have not brushed up on the latest procedures, it's time to review and gain new knowledge!"
-Stan McClain, www.filmtools.com

"The film industry is finding itself in the most dynamic technical changes in its history, yet David's manual continues to keep up with changing trends. I not only recommend this book to the new Camera Assistant, but anybody who wants a real world understanding of what to expect on-set."
-Jim Roudebush, Panavision Inc.

"Elkins takes the best of the old school-techniques used to craft the best films ever made-and updates them for the digital world. Short of being on a set, this book is a great introduction to the most technically critical job in production."
-Art Adams, cinematographer/educator, ProVideoCoalition.com

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