Two weeks ago I was in Austin training in the Masters in Motion seminar which proved to be a fantastic event. One session included working with Vincent Laforet at a local skate park using a Kessler Crane to add perspective and camera motion to our shots.
Vincent Laforet is now a successful Hollywood director and DP, who just three years ago launched the HDSLR revolution with his film Reverie shot on the Canon 5D. He shot this on a prototype Canon 5D he talked Canon in letting him borrow for a weekend. To Canon’s amazement in less than 72 hours he produced the video that launched everything. Up until then they had no idea what the 5D was capable of. (Check out his incredible new film Mobius shot on the Canon C300, or download on iTunes.)
Earlier in the week Joe Simon gave an graduate level presentation on the use of motion in storytelling. I got to put some of his ideas to the test during an afternoon session with Laforet at the skate/BMX park. Apparently to be cool you never wear a helmet doing stunts. While we were there one member of the Alfred E. Neuman school of bicycle safety cracked the back of his head open and was knocked out. The paramedics revived him once they arrived and carted him off.
Can’t say enough about how great a guy Vincent Laforet is to work with, he is a very patient but precise DP. A great Christmas gift for any one interested in photography is his new book Visual Stories. His work is simply amazing.
The Kessler Crane we used is an affordable but extremely well built hand operated crane that greatly facilitates telling a story. The crane is expandable to 18 feet, and you will need a helper to operate it. One person to operate the crane and another to operate the camera. If you get one you will need a remote head like the Kesssler Revolution Pan and Tilt Head System, and a remote monitor like one from Marshall.
It would help if the crane operator also has a monitor to simply keep everything in view. He could get by with a basic monitor like the Lilliput 7 Inch LCD which sells at a fraction of the Marshall. Care must be taken however to ensure there doesn’t develop a framing war between the camera man and the crane operator. There needs to be a lot of communication and teamwork is essential.
While I was there I decided to pick up a Kessler Crane Pocket Jib. I went for that because since I am often shooting as a one man band. The pocket jib is easy to setup and operate if you are by yourself. It extends to 8 feet, and if you raise the tripod base you can get quite a dynamic range of motion. Eric Kessler is nearly manic when it comes to quality, you won’t be disappointed if you purchase any of his products. I already owned his Philip Bloom Pocket Dolly which I used in my Monument Valley film so I knew what to expect from Kessler quality control.
I will write about the Pocket Jib in the future once I upload film I have shot with it. I stayed in Texas after the seminar to shoot a home builder and also a realtor. I used the Pocket Jib on the home builder shoot and I have to tell you it adds a considerable amount of production value to your film. If you buy one ask Eric if he’ll throw in a bike helmet, tell him you don’t want to end up like the guy in the Austin skate park. He’ll know what you mean.
* Thanks Ben Pieper for the BTS shots