Monday, June 27, 2005

Splinter Unit

Our splinter unit watching Grant run up the hill. Yes, Grant is that little dot in the distance, two thirds up the hill.

A splinter unit is a small group that shoots usually concurrently at some location while the main unit operates somewhere else. At times the splinter unit will shoot pick up shots, establishing shots, or shots that do not require the main actor or actors to be present.

Today we (visual effects) were part of a splinter unit to shoot Grant, the Terry Fox double, in the distance running up a hill. The visual effects part of it would be adding a mountain as one might see in British Columbia just off the road we were shooting in North Bay. My job was to keep a record of the different lenses, focal lengths, and other data that seemed to make the rest of the crew puzzled.

Tom joked that it was like working with the black arts when we did stuff on set. Taking the odd measurement or whipping out the custom mystery gear, then drawing little stick figure representations or diagrams for what was going on on set. Some of the crew even asked what we were on set for as they didn't know.

Here you've got these two people that are not operating the camera, moving props, or putting on wardrobe or makeup on the actors. Yet they communicate to the big wigs. The producer, the director, the DP, and occasionally look over the camera guys shoulders to ask them to adjust the camera slightly or for measurements every now and then.

Even when I told them what we did they still really didn't get what we did or why we did it. They understood the end result and what it should be but why we were doing what we did on set. They didn't get that part. I could point my arm towards the sun or moon and start clucking and they probably would accept that as being part of my job.

I guess that's good job security. In the end as long a the film doesn't look like there's visual effects in it then we've done our job right. Hopefully the crew on set that asked us who we were and what we were doing would say after they saw the show on TV "What did we need them for anyway?".

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