1:42 PM Tuesday, May 21st 2024:
Strange position to be in with this entry as I'm already sitting in the next one tomorrow.
So the time machine broke down last night (technically early this morning) and kind of overshadows the actual shoot... but the footage of the shoot so clearly stands alone, it has to be broken up into two entries. So I guess I'll just write from yesterday when I got the call and work our way up.
Yeah, you read that correctly, got the call yesterday from a company whose previousluy contracted Delorean dropped out. This is pretty rare for a shoot of this scale but if I can do it, I'll do it. Understand however, I usually prep a day or two before ANY gig, let alone one that's a 130 mile roundtrip. I'm now to the point of towing the time machine for nearly every gig of any distance simply for peace of mind but with a call like this, I can't line up a flat bed so ya just gotta jump. However all my batteries were charged and less than 2 hours after the call, I was firing it up...
...and it was not cooperating. Which to be honest happened the last couple times I had a gig, but I ended up jumping the car with a portable jumper and it got my car onto the flatbed. At the gigs I'd plug in and I was able to fire it up and get it back on the flatbed. This time however, it just wasn't working. I tried multiple batteries and nothing worked... when finally? It just did. No actual change - it just happened. So I drive to the gas station and fill up and of course... it won't start. I'm really pushing making the gig at this point but a truck shows up (with cables as I only have my portable jumper) and attempts to jump me - and THAT doesn't work. What does work (and I mean BARELY) is him being attached, as WELL as my portable jumper at the same time. What the fuck. I'm more than confused why it needs this kind of juice simply to start... but no time to worry - I get on the road and call the shoot to tell them if they have any driving scenes, they're gonna need to do them FIRST because once this car turns off, it may be off for good. Ugh.
So I get there and we pull off the opening shots and proceed to push it into position the rest of the time. Meanwhile I'm plugging in all of my batteries all over the set hoping I can get enough juice to get me home. Oh and the set... it's Four Aces, a really cool location I've shot at before that I was thrilled to bring my camera to which of course leads to the video...
Man that's cool. I have such a love affair with this format. I am so glad I have documented so much with it. We're at 100 VRlogs and I am still floored each time I see a good shot. The opening shot of the motel sign is so breathtaking. Trying to find those shots in weird locations is like being on safari. You're just hunting with a camera hoping to strike gold. And with this camera it's so blind! I've done it enough that I can usually see the moments, but you're shooting on faith because you can barely see SHIT in the moment. It's so much like film work... goodness 60-70 years ago? When did they shoot where they didn't have dailies? Googling...
Holy shit what a rabbit hole. So it would seem film dailies were always at best next day and the further back you go the longer that process took. Videotaps came in during the 50s with Jerry Lewis claiming to have patented the process though patents go back to the 40s. Videotaps weren't standard until the 60s and 70s and the film dailies were still processed up into the 90s when the videotap technology got to the point of a video village where everyone could watch it live. Of course it's all digital now so it's a moot point. Long story short (I seriously just spent an hour reading about this - how fascinating), you basically have to go back 100 years to match what it feels like trying to shoot this format on the fly. If it was a static shoot or an isolated environment I could set-up monitors to at LEAST allow you to see more of what you're shooting, but I've actually tested that and it's... it's not the same. Because even blown up what the viewer actually sees is maybe 20% of the screen in the middle of 2 fisheye lenses. You can always make proxy files to immediately load onto a headset but that means unloading the memory card and, well, doing that process. At the end of the day you simply need one thing: experience. Your DP has to have shot in every possible environment and know what to do when problems arise. It honestly feels like I'm in a time machine when I'm shooting with this and there's so few people to talk to about it.

So yeah - finding those shots like the Motel sign, or the lights in the wind, or inside the cars... it's fun. Again, I've done 100 of these fuckers in every possible real-world situation and it's still exciting to see an angle or a moment, run to get it - and then hope you got it. You get home, process the files and then hold your breath, throw on a headset and... it's magic. There will come a time when I'm watching it in headset WHILE shooting (that's the obvious goal) and I will reminisce about how "back in my day" we had this long drawn out process... and I will wax poetic about those feelings. Man - I suddenly want to live another 50 years. Hmmm. First time I've ever felt that. Well I just hope my work is recognized at some point. I still do this in almost a complete vacuum. Grrr.
Anyway to lead you to the next entry... the crew kept unplugging my battery chargers because they thought the trickle chargers were blowing the fuse on their generators. They weren't of course... it was their fog machines and lights, but I wasn't going to argue with them. I just spent the entire shoot moving 3 batteries and my portable jumper to different generators only to find them unplugged. By the end of the shoot My jumper was at 75% and only one battery was actually charged. So I attempted to start the car with the one battery, didn't work... and then jumped that battery and voila I was off.
Off into the dark, unlit roads of Palmdale...
To be continued.