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  1. #1
    Camera Operator/Producer lake54's Avatar
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    Preparation for Shoulder-mounted filming

    I was filming yesterday with a JVC GY-HD200 'compact' shoulder-mounted camera for a few hours, and woke up this morning with my right shoulder/neck/upper arm aching (quite lightly, but still noticeable).

    Is there anything I can/should do before using a shoulder-camera for a reasonable length of time to avoid arm fatigue?

    Also, on a similar note, I can feel my right eye is slightly more 'closed' than my left - anything I can do for this so that I can still use the viewfinder, but not disfigure my face in the process

    Thanks!

    James

  2. #2
    Senior Member SC358's Avatar
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    Hi James,
    I'm not involved in camera work but I do work with cameramen. What I have noticed is that they don't wear the vest all the time and the camera is only mounted when it's time to shoot. The last thing a cameraman wants is an injury and cannot do his job the following day or on the next big project. However, if this type of work is dangerous, hazardous pay is an extra compensation. Safety is an issue and it always will be because it will complicate many things.

    Eye fatigue needs to be addressed as well if your having difficulties. Use a monitor to make things easier. An eye viewer works well for short recordings, not staring into it all day. Exercise your eyesight after focusing closely, look elsewhere into the distance for a bit.

    Whenever you find yourself straining to do something, you might be doing it wrong. Find quick and easy work-arounds - or at least ask. Some days are easy and some aren't, just chalk it all up to experience. I'm sure some of production people here at Media College could tell you horror stories!

    One other thing I'll let you on a secret. There are many jobs in the industry that's hard or tedious but someone is watching you. They're looking for those who are willing to go through all the bull to see what kind of character you have. If you whine or complain, you won't last long (some are made into producers... don't get me started with that one). Depending on how you act or react, someone may like you enough to take you under their wing and teach you the ropes.
    SC358
    Relationships are based on compromises - behavior accepted is behavior repeated.

  3. #3
    Camera Operator/Producer lake54's Avatar
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    Hi and thanks for replying again

    In terms of vests etc, the company that's working with us is very small and as such they only really use tripods and that's it - they don't have any vests etc.

    Also, I don't think it would be economical for me to get a vest for myself as I'm still growing.

    In terms of the 'preparation', is there anyone else that does camera work who knows of any exercises etc to build the muscles up? Or just standard stuff?

    Back onto eye fatigue, thanks for the tip - I guess I've gotten used to seeing what's on tv - nearly all of the time I've seen them using the eye viewfinder, but I guess that's not all of the time, or merely for the short cases as you referred to.

    Also thanks for the little secret. It's not really applicable for this project because it's the same team and they're not really that type of outfit.

    James
    Last edited by lake54; 24th Jun 2009 at 07:36. Reason: Tidied up after iPhone

  4. #4
    Hi James

    I shoot weddings with 2 shoulder mount cameras and I make sure that I don't suffer too much by making sure that the camera is stabilised on all 3 points. Your shoulder, your right hand under the grip belt and then your eye on the EVF. For longer sequences you can also take your left arm and put it over you head and grab the carry handle too!!

    You need to learn to film with both eyes open!! It takes a bit of practice but it helps you keep one eye for the EVF and one to see where you are going and also who might be walking into you!!

    If you do use a stedicam at a later stage (I use one extensively for weddings) the secret there is when you take a break, hug the camera (in other words pull the sled right close to your body) during breaks and the centre of gravity is almost the same as your own so there is little or no strain on your back

    Chris

  5. #5
    Camera Operator/Producer lake54's Avatar
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    Thanks for your reply Chris

    I presume that one is one a tripod covering the 'main' things whilst you're roving around getting the reactions etc? Just interested in how these things work I guess (I've looked over the tutes on this site, but obviously not applicable in all cases :-)

    Funnily enough I did accidentally try that (carry handle) after I lifted it onto my shoulder, and almost forgot to take my hand off of the handle. It did feel much lighter on my right, but I thought I would look a little silly walking around like that all day. Is that something that is used regularly?

    Again with the EVF - A couple of times in the footage I could see my hand waving around making sure I didn't knock into these roadside trees that were handily placed right in my path (yes - planning is definitely key!) - I guess I need a bit more practice on this sort of thing.

    Thanks for the tips - I can see you're both 'respected' on these forums!

    James

  6. #6
    Senior Member SC358's Avatar
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    One other thought. If possible, it's always best to have an assistant but that really depends on the situation. At least s/he can guide you or run around and take care of your needs while you concentrate on your shots.

    As you build up on your experiences, you will know when one is needed or not.
    SC358
    Relationships are based on compromises - behavior accepted is behavior repeated.

  7. #7
    Camera Operator/Producer lake54's Avatar
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    haha - I like the idea of an assistant alreayd

    Yeah the guys that are helping us do that type of thing - they advise a fair bit on what to film, but they encourage me to 'do my own thing', which I'm getting a little bit better at now. I just need to train myself to walk backwards, whilst looking out of both eyes (one in viewfinder), not knocking into anything. If I can do that then I should be on par for at least an amateur!

    Thanks for all the help and tips, if I ever manage to get a camera of my own I'm definitely going to be practising with it!

    James

    (Sorry about the slightly delayed reply - had to reinstall XP twice on the same machine. My firewall messed it up after the first reinstall...)

  8. #8
    Exercise doesn't hurt either , push ups and pull ups are really great for working with shoulder mount cameras. If you can get to 50 of each every night you shouldn't get sore anymore
    2 x Dual Core Xeon 3.0, Premiere Elements 1 - 7, Premiere Pro CS3, After Effects CS3, Soundbooth, Heroglyph, Vitascene, EncoreDVD http://muvipix.com

  9. #9
    Camera Operator/Producer lake54's Avatar
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    That's what I was looking for - I'll make sure I do some of that then :-)

    Thanks!

  10. #10
    Wait until you get onto a Stedicam!! Then you will be quite happy to use the camera on your shoulder and it will feel light as a feather!!

    Using a stedicam and lugging around a 50lb load for a couple of hours makes your back ache and eventually your legs are like jelly. Luckily I only use it during weddings when the bride arrives and during the photoshoot then it's mainly shoulder mount later in the evening and believe me, that camera feels so light!!!

    With lots of usage you will soon get used to it!! If you need to practice holding a shoulder mount cam, you can often pickup an old broadcast or VHS camera on eBay for virtually nothing and it could be a useful "dummy" camera...the neighbours will be impressed anyway!!

    Chris

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