Have you ever wondered: what does a Grip do? In truly timeless 90’s Docu fashion, Mark Vargo, ASC takes us on a journey explaining the role of the grip department, with insight to popular camera and light modifying tools they use day to day.
With filmmaking becoming as accessible and self-sufficient due to today’s technology, many people are coming into the industry with a do-it-all-yourself attitude and have never, and maybe will never, come into contact with a traditionally structured professional film outfit.
That means that when you check out the Behind the Scenes of your favourite Hollywood movies, you have no idea what that Craghopper clad, burley guy holding a piece of metal is doing.
Believe it or not, you shouldn’t really have to keep an eye on your reflector leant up against a camera bag and light stand as you delicately try to poise the camera on a slider & double stacked tripod head. In a professional production, there is a whole department that deals with that for you.
Mark Vargo’s video above does a good job highlighting the key roles of a grip, whilst going into a little detail regarding popular used tools, such as grades of gobos (light modifiers that “go between” the lights and the talent).
Outside of Hollywood movies, Grips are widely used in the commercial industry, as well as high profile corporate, narrative and music videos. The smaller the jobs are, the more blurred set roles can become.
Basically speaking, the Grip Department is responsible for camera and lighting support. The key word here is support, where they never usually touch a light fixture or piece of camera kit, just the supporting elements.
Mark Vargo describes them as skilled technicians drawing experience from highly technical vocations. I couldn’t have put it better myself.
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In episode 25 of ON THE COUCH, I was happy to welcome filmmaker O’Connor Hartnett and Mark-André Voss from F&V Lighting.
We started off by talking about how lighting for film has changed with technology over the past 10 years or so. O’Connor mentioned that LED lights became a standard in his lighting kit for smaller and medium-sized productions. Especially daylight balanced lights were only available in huge sizes like HMIs, with added ballast, huge power consumption and flicker issues – albeit with an enormous output of light. Now with LEDs, O’Connor said we are more flexible.
Mark said that there is an obsession with CRT values when measuring light quality, however that is only one aspect of the quality of light – it depends on many different factors that cannot be reduced to one denominator. He recommends assessing the quality of light always in the circumstance it’s used for. He said it also depends on the digital camera used, because every sensor type (like CCD or CMOS) sees light differently, and even among those sensors there are huge differences.
We then moved on to the product range of F&V with the various lights they produce in the LED range, which they focus on.
According to Mark, LEDs will tremendously develop in the future, and there will be much brighter and stronger LED lights in the future. We also compared the Kinoflo type of light with LED lights and how the “multiple shadows issue” with 1×1 lights can be overcome.
In the next segment of this episode of ON THE COUCH, we talk about the increasing light sensitivity of cameras and what that means for shaping light and shadows on-screen.
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