Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Difference Between Old School Juicers And The New Kids (And Why I'm Often Confused On Set)...

My, how the times have changed...

Diffusion Bags / Scrim Bags : A lot of the Old School guys refer to these things as "diffusion bags." I'm not quite sure why,  but I've always been taught to call them "scrim bags" (because, you know, there's scrims in them). It can get fun and confusing when you hear the veteran Gaffer say, "Drop some diffusion in that light" and for a brief second, you're stuck wondering how the hell does one "drop" Opal or 216* into a light. 

4/0 : Most of the newer guys don't roll their eyes when you ask to double team the cable. Most of the older guys will and then mumble something about doing it themselves.

Gloves: Many of the older guys don't use them. All of the younger ones do.

The Cameraman / The DP : When I first started working, my peers and I would often refer to our boss' boss as "The Cinematographer" or the "The DP." As I gained more experienced and gained footing on slightly bigger shows, the "Cinematographer" was now solely referred to as the "DP." But as I started working with more and more Old School kinda guys, they almost always referred to the big boss as "The Cameraman." This also would throw me for a loop the first few times I heard it because my immediate thought always was that they're talking about the Camera Operator or even the 1st AC.

Equipment: The older guys are more likely to put shit away when they're done using it. Many of the juicers of my generation simply don't. It drives me nuts.

Future: The Old School juicers look for their next job. The New Kids look for their next opportunity to move up. The Old School juicers  just want to reach retirement. The New Kids still hope they'll become a DP/Producer/Writer/Director...

*I actually do wonder whether or not those links really have a picture of the product.  :)


Michael Taylor said...

AJ --

I don't know if I'm "old school" or just old, but this diffusion-confusion has always driven me nuts. The purpose of diffusion (as you said, 216 or Opal, among other types of white diffusion) is to change the quality of the light -- to take the curse off and make it softer -- while scrims are to cut the quantity of light.

It's quality vs. quantity, just like a trip to CostCo.

You know that, I know that, and so does every other juicer/BB/Gaffer with a brain -- yet people still say "do you need any diffusion?" when they mean "do you need any scrims."


I used to avoid double-teaming 4/0 -- it was less awkward to do it myself -- but not anymore. When the time comes, I want to exit this business on my own two feet, not on crutches or in a wheelchair.

Gloves -- always, unless the task at hand (pun intended) simply cannot be accomplished while encumbered by gloves. And when that task is complete, the gloves go right back on.

To me, the terms "cameraman" and "DP" are interchangeable. I rarely use the term "cinematographer" unless in print or talking with civilians who don't know anything about the biz.

Equipment -- if you put the stuff away when done with it, you'll know right where it is the next time it's needed. Otherwise, chaos reigns.

As for the future, Old School Juicers are at the point where they know who they are and what they're not -- and we're not going to become DPs, producers, screenwriters or directors. The New Kids still have a shot at those dreams -- and so long as they work hard and pay attention to their paying job on set, that's fine with me. Hell, more power to them. I hope they make it... but most of them won't -- either they'll find another way to make a living or else become Best Boys and Gaffers -- and in the fullness of time turn into Old School veterans themselves.

Same as it ever was...

A.J. said...

Michael - Obviously, by "old school," I don't mean cool cats like you. :)

Ps. Despite living alone, I'm a fan of Costco.

JD said...

Worked with a West coast DP. I found his verbiage confusing and un-necessary. Maybe he was very old school.

Do we have wires for that lamp? Ummm yes, were running power for it right now. "Wires" for scrims, every lamp, lighting instrument, fixture, was called by Mole-Richardson's name for it. What is wrong with asking for a 2K open? Instead, "I want a "Mighty" over there."

Michael Taylor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Taylor said...

JD --

Not to butt in here, but in my experience working on the West Coast, most DPs call for the exact lamp they want to use for a given purpose. If that means a baby junior instead of a studio junior (and on stage we have both), that's what he'll ask for, and he usually has a reason.

This is pretty much all I've known, and thus has always been normal to me. In some ways it's better, since giving the DP what he wants is our job. If we have blondes and mighty moles on set (and that happens), I'd rather the DP tell me just what he wants rather than have me bring him a blonde when he wanted a mighty.

Maybe this comes from gaffers becoming DPs -- but I really don't know.

As for "wire" -- yeah, some DPs out here call scrims "wire," but not all of them, by a long shot. I suppose it boils down to individual idiosyncrasies.

You say po-tay-to, I say po-tah-to...

JD said...

Michael Taylor - Maybe my lack of exposure (to the above) is from never worked on anything shot in a "big" studio, soundstage or anyplace with a well stocked lamp dock. Maybe I'm overlooking some bit of technical esoterica, but in my mind a "Mighty" is Moles's version of Strand's 2K Blond open face. Is it not?

Michael Taylor said...

JD --

I have no idea which company first came up with the open-faced 2K, but yes, a blonde is essentially the same type of lamp as as a mighty.
They use the same globe, although a blonde is about half as long and a bit fatter than a mighty, which can make a difference in a situation where space is limited.

Both have their uses, although IMHO, both are crappy lamps plagued by poor design.

A.J. said...

JD - I slightly disagree with Michael's last answer. Most Gaffers I work with have specific reasons why they may prefer a blonde over a mighty or vise-versa. While they're both open-face 2Ks, they do have different photometrics and that means a lot depending on what the Gaffer's trying to do with it. I've even been on shows where we have both the Ianiro blondes and the Arrilite 2000s on the carts, and the Gaffer makes damn well sure we're out of the Ianiros before we bring him a "Smurf" to set simply because he prefers the "real" blondes.

However, I will agree with Michael on their poor design. :)

JD said...

IMHO, mechanically, the Strand/Ianario "2K open" is head and shoulders a better fixture than the MR Mighty.

"Smurf" for the Arrilite 2K, I like that!

Bailblock on the old style Arri 2K is crap and cracks. I don't know how many replacement bailblocks I've made for them out of Aluminum.

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