Well, now that I have retrieved yet another left-behind piece of camera equipment, I can tell you about my great weekend working with the Heartland Poker Tour. Yes, that's right, I let a HPT crew member take production pics with my camera and I didn't check that the SD card was still in it. I'm an idiot, I know. Anyway, that still didn't take away from another great work experience.
Things had changed a great deal since my last production with the crew. Typically, they hire out a small production truck and haul their own set materials in a small trailer. Since then, however, they have become a self contained production upgrading to a new trailer and buying their own switcher, cameras, and additional lighting. While it's nice for them to cut out the production truck, on the flip side it means that there is more stuff to handle during load in/load out.
Probably one of my favorite things about HPT shoots is the variety of hands-on work I get to do. It starts with grip work hauling everything in and building the set, then transitions into gaffer work helping with the lighting truss and interview lights, and finally the camera work. The lighting for the set isn't overly complicated, but I don't always get a lot of lighting experience on other shoots so it's nice to jump in and try to figure it out when I can.
Another addition that made this weekend fun was the new dolly track system that's on EVERY camera. That's right, every camera gets at least five or six feet of track to glide on. Which, I have to say is the biggest and smartest improvement they have made. After shooting on regular tripods for the last couple years and having to move the entire rig when players are eliminated or just to get the perfect angle on them, it is a huge improvement to be able to use one finger and put the entire setup where it needs to be. The tracks also open up a lot of creative shots where pans and tilts used to be the only option.
As if all the new toys I got to play with weren't enough, as an extra bonus I got to attend the Brad Garret: Rated 'R' For Relief show that took place that night at the casino. Garret puts on a good show, so if you get a chance to see him, I suggest you go. After the show it was back to work, though. When the last piece of gear went back on the truck it was about 3:30am, so I put in a good 18 hour day (can you call an 18 hr day good?). Luckily I got about ten hours of sleep the next day to make up for it. Now all I can do is look forward to the next time the HPT roles into town.
Thanks for reading!