Sweden Brings Back Memories

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

I’m on a plane back from Sweden after picking up my new (used) Ultra 2 from the guys at Camera Center in Gothenburg (shout out to Paul Blomgren, Hans Johansson, Michael Petersen, Richard, Michelle & Christian). Since I was already going there to evaluate the gear I figured I should make a trip out of it… so my wife and I found sitters for the kids and off we went. After a couple days in Stockholm we headed off to a resort in the mountains. Unfortunately it was off season, so the cool stuff we really wanted to do (like Dog Sledding, Snow Mobiling, etc) wasn’t in full swing yet.

It did however remind me of my experience with Steadicam and Snow Mobiles while working on an H&R Block commercial in Whistler, Vancouver. Working on a ski slope is challenging enough, but moving the camera is a who other ball of wax.

The most important factor to keep in mind while working on a ski slope is the “slope.” This has a huge impact on the orientation of your socket block, and whether the arm & rig are working with you or against you. If you trim the block for driving downhill, the rig is going to be unruly while driving back uphill for your reset. Especially when everyone wants a fast reset, and your not only trying to hold onto the rig, but holding onto the snow mobile for dear life.

Of course, its terribly difficult to adjust the socket block quickly with gloves on, the rig on the arm, and in the few seconds available. In retrospect, a rig that would quickly allow for gross adjustment to the orientation of the Garfield mount would have been a lifesaver.

The next challenge is the snow. This is where rain gear, or my favorite choice in water protection, stretch wrap, comes into play. This is a great, inexpensive solution. Skip the stuff sold for food… that stuff is often more expensive (since its made for working with food) and doesn’t offer a convenient applicator for use in the field. I prefer the stuff sold for packing. You can get it a Home Depot or Lowes (in the moving section). It comes with a great applicator, and its easy to fit in a case or bag. It goes on fast and cuts off quickly.

Finally, the last tip (which really applies to all vehicle scenarios), is communication. Make sure you have some open line off communication with the driver. A walkie-talkie is NO GOOD. That requires you to push a button. This is difficult when both of your hands are on the rig. You need a duplex solution that lets you communicate live with, at the very least, the driver. A cell-phone with an ear-bud is a cheap solution… but there are others out there if you have some money to spend!

So, with that, back to watching “Blades of Glory” on my 8 hour flight and keeping my fingers crossed that all the gear makes it onto the baggage carousel when I land. Good luck with all of you vehicle work… Keep Safe!

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