Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Trip to Panavision

Today was a fantastic day because I got to go to Panavision. It's hard to explain what it's like to be there. I love almost all cameras but Panavision is a special place. A legendary cinematographer could be in the stall next to you, doing camera tests for their next feature. Plus, they treat you well there, even if you aren't a famous cinematographer. A couple of weeks ago I was there for an event and Joe Dunton gave a talk. He provided lenses and cameras for Stanley Kubrick (and many others) for much of his career. What I really appreciated was that his presentation focused entirely on motion picture artistry, not technical details. He also pulled out an f/0.7 prime lens. Geeks and Kubrick fans will know of what I speak.

I practiced loading film mags and operating the Panahead geared camera heads. Unfortunately, I still have a way to go, as far as operating the heads. For the non-film people, the magazine is on top of the camera (the part that says Panavision) and holds the film. The head is a geared support device for moving the camera smoothly. You can see them both here.

You know that you're crazy enough to work in film when you're happy to spend 4 hours moving a laser pointer on a camera head, trying to keep it in a series of thin white lines on a chart. You spin the wheels on the head and it turns the gears that move the head and the camera. It's kind of like rubbing your head and stomach at the same time with your hands moving in opposite directions.

There was a 5.4 earthquake while I was there. Everyone looked up for a second and then went back to work.

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