Rigging Introduction

I have been hesitant to say anything about rigging because it involves danger to equipment and personnel. There is a mystique about motion picture production that causes people to ignore the regular rules of safety and common sense to "get the shot". Often crews are behind because they or production has underestimated how long things will take, not prepared well or just not know enough about what they are doing. "Make is simple" is not very often the rule of the day. I feel that some people spend more effort on making a good impression than on making good images. Unfortunately many people paying the bill are more impressed with the good show than the good quality of film or tape. Some don't even know good from bad.

There is another aspect that I can't ignore in my keep it simple approach. There is a justified reason to use "Professional" tools and methods to protect one's self if things go wrong. You can always blame the equipment if you use industry standard equipment. If it's home made, it is your fault for not doing things the right way.

I have watched the chrome plated, Snap On, fancy equipment crews make major expensive mistakes and charge the client an arm and a leg with a smile. I have also seen some bare bones riggers do wonders for peanuts and seen them have to argue about a few real dollars of extras that saved the client thousands. Yes, the impression is important. A coat of paint and some painted boxes might be a compromise. Your knowing how to make your rigs work will cover for some lack of flash. You can throw some fancy physics terms and baloney about how simple is best and maybe get by IF YOUR RIG WORKS. Your rig will work if you test it before hand and you know the vehicle that it is going on.

Thinking often gets muddled when a crew is behind and the safety rules get compromised. That's when people get hurt. There are a few people who don't care about lives and property. They feel that if some kid is willing to risk his life in a bid for fame, it's his mistake if he gets hurt. IT IS NOT, it's the director, production and crew's fault to let it happen.

Getting everyone together before you are ready to do something and pooling your thoughts and concerns can reveal something that might have been overlooked. It's no time for "just do as I say" or "let's just do it". Minds get muddled and so stepping back and thinking about it may prevent disaster.

Maybe the most important advice is to be pessimistic. Prepare for the worst problems or least likely things to happen and maybe you will be lucky and all will go well. Low budget production tends to dictate getting by with less than what is required to do the job right such as qualified people. Often the production value can be achieved by some simpler and safer means. Don't do things that you are not qualified to do. Get experienced help. Check the references and reputation of the experts that you do get. Some people tend to exaggerate about their experience and feel that they can rise to the occasion. Unfortunately this is often the norm and sometimes works. With rigging, lives and equipment are at stake and there is less room for learning on the job.

I hope that this information helps you avoid injury and makes your shoot go smoother so that you don't have to work behind schedule and take chances. Pre-plan, pre-rig, leave plenty of time, be pessimistic and use your check lists.

© Copyright 1999-2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.