every project has its challenges. time and budget are probably the most common constraints in any industry and it certainly holds true in the filmmaking world. with the exception of well funded major hollywood projects most films are made with small to moderate budgets and that means the crew has to be more efficient than ever. as filmmakers we are tasked with creating imagery that serves the story and part of that is knowing the craft and the hardware that goes with it.
to me having the right gear on set provides a ton more than what’s necessary to get the shot.
surely reliability and ease of use makes everyone’s lives easier but the biggest benefit is how it frees you from having to think about the tools so you can concentrate on the story. this past fall we created a spot for Shootsac and the Kessler KC-12 crane played a huge part in the production.
the idea was to highlight shootsac’s key features from the point of the view of the bag and showcase it in series of different scenarios. for the dirt bike scene we needed mud and there’s not a whole lot of that in sunny california. fortunately we found just enough mud at an underpass right next to the train tracks, but that meant we had ten, maybe fifteen minutes before the authorities showed up. we took 30mins pre-assembling the KC-12 at the hotel so it could travel in two pieces, when we got on location setup time was just 10mins and we were ready to roll. sure enough we only had a few takes before we were asked to leave and had the KC-12 not been so reliable and easy to setup we would have lost the location and considerably increased our time and production costs. instead we were able to get the shots we needed quickly and easily.
next was the airport and although we had full clearance to film there it was still a very busy place and we had strict instructions to stay clear of airport operations. so not only did we have to be quick but also maintain as small a footprint as possible so we chose the KC-12’s smaller brother, the pocket jib. with the way its structured we can very quickly minimize its size and relocate it to another part of the terminal. the wheels on the k-pod make it super easy to move, even for someone my size, and when you have an hour to get your shots on a skeleton crew every little bit counts.
we did a handful of other shots to round out the piece, one of which including fitting the pocket jib inside a small apartment for the beer scene, but what really blew me away was what we did at the beach. here we had a couple modeling for a portrait session and we wanted a flyover of the entire scene to reveal the bag. in order to get the movement with the precision we needed we mounted the EPIC onto the revolution head then on the KC-12 so that we could get a silky smooth drop-in over the couple and land right on the bag. P ran the crane from the back and Ray worked the oracle so we can pan and tilt to get that perfect composition. the setup was surprisingly simple and we’re all so thrilled with how it turned out.
while outside we also used an 800w Profoto HMI to give some of the shots a bit of an edge. it’s a relatively small light but packs quite the punch and provides just enough of a rim light, even in the bright outdoors. there’s always more than one way to do something but having the right tools is certainly a huge part of a successful shoot and the Kessler KC-12 & pocket jib has helped us with that time and time again. below is a short behind-the-scenes clip that evan put together from our shoot. if the thought of a crane seems daunting to you check out kesslerU, it has a ton of helpful tutorials that can help with your questions. i encourage you to push yourself and give it a try — exploring new things fosters creativity and often opens up a whole world ideas and opportunities.
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