Talking Stone Film

Film Reviews & Headlines


– Okay, oh my God, it’s
been such a long time. It’s only been two weeks. So first off, I’m really
sorry about not keeping to my schedule last week. I know, I was meant to
put a video up for you all but something very minor came up and it just throw a spanner
in the works for everything. So I decided to just take that week off and try and work things out. Spoiler alert, it didn’t work
out but I’ll explain later. I’m so sorry, it’s gonna be
another talking heads video. I am kind of stuck in the studio or stuck to the easier
to accomplish videos for the time being just for the next week. Let’s get on with it. Today we’re gonna talk about
the scale of production. I know, I say this all
the time in my videos, especially about camera
assisting, it depends on the job. It depends on the scale of the job. It depends on what you’re
doing, those sort of phrases and that really is true, what
you do as a camera assistant as a 1st AC, as 2nd AC, it varies. And it depends on whether
you’re doing a long form, if it’s a feature film or a TV series, or if you’re doing a commercial job, if it’s a big budget commercial or a smaller budget commercial, or if you’re doing an independent thing, like an independent short or
an independent feature even, or maybe even if you’re
doing a music video, it varies a lot. Now, again, things may be
slightly different where you live, they should mostly be the same though. So you should have no worries. But you’ve just got to think
about some of the processes that I talk about in my video and try and relate it to
where you are yourself because your industry, your film industry, or even individuals in your film industry may have been taught slightly differently and therefore may teach
you slightly differently. It comes up sometimes
and if it is different, please leave a comment down below because I’d like to hear your
processes for doing things, the ways that you’ve
learned how to do things, and we can start a conversation because we are a very
international community here. So it is nice to hear
those different methods and other people from
other parts of the world can learn as well. Okay, so first up, I wanna talk about 1st ACs on long form. But let’s talk a little bit about long form production first. Arguably long form production is one of the most structured
working environments. It has a hierarchy to it, a
very strict hierarchy to it. And really, it’s one of the
best places to cut your teeth and start learning, you’ll notice that a lot of camera attachment roles happen to be on long form productions, because you pretty much going
to work every single day and doing exactly the same
thing every single day in a very structured manner,
so you learn a lot quicker. So let’s talk about the
structure of a camera department in that field, in that long form field. So you’d be looking at a
DP or a cinematographer. They will be the head of
the camera department. And then after that, you’ll
have camera operators. Now, that can be A camera,
B camera, C camera. Your DP doesn’t necessarily
have to be an operator as well like sometimes they might wanna sit back and more focus on writing or whatever, but sometimes they can
nominate an operator and that will be A camera operator. And then you have the first
AC, that’s usually per camera and then you have a second AC
who is sometimes per camera. So you’ll have a B camera
second and a C camera second, and a D camera second,
it just keeps going. But sometimes that doesn’t happen. Sometimes it’ll be one or two 2nd ACs sort of fielding both cameras or whatever that situation might be. There might not be one
assistant per camera. And then you have vid split operator, or video split operator, and truck loader. Now sometimes, these last two
are kind of lumped in together they kind of go as the camera
attachment, sort of job, I guess, that’s a different story. We’re not gonna talk about that today. We’re just really focusing
on 1st and 2nd AC. So the 1st AC, the first camera assistant, the focus puller, the
person who makes sure that everything is sharp, now if there is more than one camera, the first AC on A camera is going to be on top in the hierarchy of the B camera first AC, etc. That’s just the way that structure works. But even though I say there’s a hierarchy and you’re the boss of this person, there’s no real “boss” per se. I mean, yes, that
structure is still there. And yes, you still respect it, but it is still a team effort. As the 1st AC, you’re responsible
for building the camera and making sure that the kit is good and in working order and
suitable for the job. So you attend all the gear
check and the gear return and all of that happens with you there. Now you as the 1st AC, are the main link between the DP and the rest of the team. So you relay any messages from the DP to the rest of the team to get it done quickly and efficiently. And that’s why it’s really important to always have opening,
is always be listening out for the next setup, the next
lens, any sort of movement that will help you be a
head on the day, on the day. I need to stop saying on the day, I freaking hate that phrase. So because you’re gonna
be listening so often, you’re more from the
not next to the camera and making sure that it’s ready to move at any point in time. You will sometimes take
the camera off the DP if you’re doing especially a handheld shot just to relieve them of that weight. This is unless you’ve actually got a dedicated camera group on the team. If you don’t, you’ll be doing it. But if so, if you’ve got
a dedicated group there who is responsible for taking
and moving that camera, that’s possible as well. More often than not, you will be in charge of everything in that kit. You are the head of that assisting team, therefore you must know it back to front. You will also make sure
that your assistants are on top of everything,
and that you will pack down and transport that
equipment in most cases. That’s why a lot of camera
systems have vans or trucks. On commercial jobs as the 1st AC, it’s pretty much the same as a long form. There are slight differences in your roles and responsibilities on
that day, I said it again. You’re still the head of the
camera assistant department, you’re still responsible
for all the equipment, the gear check and the gear drop, you’re still almost
always next to the camera, you’re still listening very
intently for any direction, but everything’s just a
little bit more laid back. That’s probably the wrong phrase. But everything’s a little
bit less of a hierarchy, often because there’s
less crew on those jobs. So it is a little bit more hands on, you make the most of the situation without as many crew members. So everything kind of becomes
a little bit more simple to complete, to be honest,
because you’ve got less crew, yes, and you do have to
accommodate for having less crew, but you’ve also got less
equipment to carry around. Well, generally speaking, you’ve got less equipment to carry around, so your gear check is a lot simpler, your gear return is a lot simpler. It’s just a lot better of a process, a lot quicker of a process. I wouldn’t say better, just quicker. This is generally speaking,
I’ve been on some commercials where it’s been a really hard day. Independent productions, yeah, your job does pretty much stay the same but you become a lot more hands-on. So, you will be moving the camera, you will be doing a lot of heavy lifting, you will be doing a lot of transport, keeping on top of things because there is even less of
a crew than on a commercial. This is all in most
cases, generally speaking, sort of stereotype, I guess. I’m just giving you the
basics of each scenario. 2nd AC, this is where things
get really interesting ’cause, oh boy, you’ve got a lot of work. It’s fun work though, so. Let’s talk about long form. So you have a lot of responsibilities. You have responsibilities
coming out of your ears, so you know the kit back to front, you attend good checks and good drops. You know where absolutely everything is, organisation is your jam. At the end of the day, you take the batteries home to charge. Well, I mean, you can split
it up between all of the ACs but yes, you are one of the people who will take batteries home
to charge for the next day. You help in the camera
build and making sure that all of the accessories
that are required are on the camera in the morning, you keep on top of battery swings and card swings or mag swings, making sure that you tape
up the cards correctly to be sent off to be data wrangled because you’re probably not
gonna be data wrangling them. In fact, I have never been
on a long form production where the second AC has
been the data wrangler, it’s always been by somebody
completely different, so they get sent off separately, which means you have to be
completely on top of that tape to make sure everything
is labeled correctly ’cause it’s not going to you, it’s going to somebody
else who wasn’t there. You also swing lenses with the first AC, which I forgot to mention
in the first AC part, well, now you know. Yu write camera reports. Yes, I’m making a video
on this, please wait. You keep reports on any damage
to equipment or accessories and you report any breakages
or anything that went missing. That all gets sent off
to production office. Now let me just say here
that you are the main link between the production office and the rest of the camera department. So, if anything goes wrong
like something breaks or you need extra equipment or accessories to make something work, you
will be the point of call to the production office. However, I do wanna say
here that like first ACs, the 2nd AC on a camera is usually the person who will do that. You carry so much stuff on you. You’ve got batteries, cards, tape, markers, a slate, check out my video on a camera assistant’s kit because that will help you
in working out what you need. You make sure all the
gears are in working order, cleaned and maintained. And like I said before, you’ve
got a slate, so you slate. So as a 2nd AC on a commercial gig, things do change slightly. The main difference is more often than not on a commercial you won’t
have a video split operators. So you’re gonna be
responsible for the monitors and that’s actually one
of your highest priorities on your list, client
does not want to wait. The first thing I would
do as a camera assistant, when I would rock up on a commercial shoot is I would scan out the location, I would work out exactly where
I can put client monitor, I would work out where
I can put my data kit as well as battery charging,
that all kind of goes together ’cause you have to consult first
AD or a production manager, whoever’s on set who can
tell you that sort of thing. Sometimes that changes. And also the gaffer to work out if you can actually plug in that spot, if that’s okay with them. Ideally, you won’t put the data wrangling in with the client either. But you can put your data wrangling kit with the battery kit, that’s
typically what I used to do, kind of depends on how far away it is from the rest of the set. So whether you’re wrangling or not is actually determined by production. So production will
usually give you a call, usually it’s a PM that
will give you a call and they will ask you whether you’re happy to
do the data wrangling. You can say you’re not
happy, that’s totally fine, but they will ask you, so
sometimes you will be doing it but sometimes you won’t be doing it. Sometimes it will be a
dedicated data wrangler, which is the dream, and other times it’ll just be somebody
else on the production, which is not great, I
mean, you wanna make sure that they’re competent
in doing that sort of job because it’s something you
don’t wanna do half-assed. Anyway, you will swing
lenses as you would normally on a long form production, you will do that again on a
commercial, that doesn’t change. Sometimes you’ll do reports
but most of the time, you won’t because these sort of productions are a little bit smaller scale and reports just often aren’t necessary, which is great, ’cause
I hate camera reports, they’re handy, yes, but they are a right
pain to keep filling out. You still carry a kit and a
slate and you still do slate, you swing cards and batteries, and really, that should be seamless. The first AC shouldn’t
have to know about it. But this time, more often than not, you’re also charging batteries as well, but the one thing that you
most likely won’t be doing is the gear check and the gear drop. That is unless you’re lost. So pro tip, at the end of the day, go over absolutely everything because it is your job to know
the kit back to front still. So as long as you know that
everything’s been passed down into its corresponding box, and that everything is ticked off the list or at least that everything
is there, that’s cool. Also remember to check
the bottom of your bag because in your kit bag things
can get lost really easily. And if you pop a card inside pocket, or pop some sort of battery
in the bottom of your bag, it can slide down, it can get lost you’ve just gotta make sure that you’ve cleared out your whole kit. To be honest, in an independent production or a low budget production, your role doesn’t really
change too much here. But I do you want to say
that if you are a first AC, it can change if they decide
to make you the only AC because that means you’re doing absolutely everything I
just said, everything, including data wrangling, including slate, everything I just said, you will be doing which isn’t ideal, especially
with data wrangling. So what I would recommend,
if you’ve been asked to be the only AC on something, I would recommend speaking
to production beforehand and asking if they could get somebody who can do data separately,
whether it is somebody on the production team
who is competent in it, or whether they hire somebody else, just to get that off your chest because having to do data wrangling and having to do the job
of two people is not fun and it really, really shouldn’t
be done on a production, on any production because it
just puts everything on you and if something goes wrong, because you’ve not been paying attention or you’ve been spread too
thin, that’s really bad. So I know this is a really boring video and it is just a talking heads thing. So I am really sorry about that. But look, okay, I have
some really great ideas for some videos about camera assisting, and some not about cameras assisting. But I am currently stuck in the studio because I have simply run out of time. Because I sold my camera. I’m not using my a7R right now, I’m actually using a friend’s a7R who was very kind to lend it to me. The timing was just wrong. I sold the camera, and then I
was ready to shoot something but the person who wanted to
buy it came and bought it. Great, cool, I’m okay with that. But then I realized I haven’t
actually shot anything for this week, oh dear, what do I do? But I already had a camera on its way. Cool, no worries. Then what happens? Shipping delay. Yeah. (sighs) It just didn’t work out timing wise, okay? It’s boring story, there you go. You’ll know that now
I’m getting a new camera and I will have it next week. So hopefully I can get out fingers crossed and do some of these
cool ideas for you guys. I know you guys really like
the camera assisting tip stuff. And that was really unintentional where my channel went that way. I’m really happy you’re enjoying them and I really like making them but I would also like to make
some other content as well. So I hope you’re okay with that too. If you did enjoy the video, please remember to give
it a big fat thumbs up and if you’d like to see more of my face and learn a little bit more
about filmmaking in the process, remember to subscribe
and I’ll see you later. (upbeat music)

12 thoughts on “Responsibilities On A Film Set For Camera Assistants

  1. You are the best! Thank you. Can you do a “what to wear to set” and what brands are typically the best?

  2. don't worry about the scheduling, we all know how life is : ) anyways enjoy the talking head vids just was much

  3. For small productions, the only reports I usually do or require if I'm having someone else doing them, are screenshots from the dailies backups of the properties of the camera media and both backups folders, confirming the size and number of files.
    More detailed stuff is only for longer or bigger productions.

  4. We love all the vid u make for us.
    People who r in the industry or r willing to join have gained a lot of valuable knowledge.
    Thanks 🙂

  5. Setup is looking good, the mid shot with the table feels a lot nicer than the slightly loose MCU you used to have.
    On topic, I dream of the day I get to actually have a full team to work with. 95% of the jobs I have done in the past 4 years have had a DP, 1stAC and sometimes a 2nd AC as camera team and we as the camera department did all the G&E as well.
    I have never done long form, I look forward to doing a long form project one day to see what having a consistent full team is like.

  6. I love your face. Love the videos. Didn't know you were into making other things other than the AC stuff. But I am looking forward to seeing all of it. Good on'ya!

    Peace ☮️

  7. Not boring at all! No need to keep apologizing, this content is great. As AC you don't really get to talk to peers a TON so in-depth perspective like this makes me confident that I'm approaching each day in a similar fashion and hearing your approach really gives me confidence in my own! (and helps me patch up the places I may be over looking). Thanks for taking the time.

  8. Loving all your AC tips videos, they've already helped me in my career so much! Really looking forward to seeing anything else you come out with as well!

  9. Welcome to all the new subscribers! Just over 1000 of you! I honestly never thought my little channel would get this far (I mean, I honestly got into this not thinking about numbers at all, but this is really lovely.)
    Thanks so much for all your support! 😄

  10. Super glad I found your channel! I've just "promoted myself" to AC and I'm loving all the information you're providing! Thank you so much!

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