Problem Solving

During a shoot problems arise and afterwards there is always the question "there has to be a better way to do it." Without a problem, a need or goal there is little direction for any search. In motion picture and video work setting up a test is a good way to discover what your problems might be. Sometimes just setting up a shot and not even shooting it is productive. Or shooting a camcorder test. Analizing your test results and letting them hibernate in your subconscience helps too. Talk to others. Ask questions. Look for solutions out of the realm of traditional film and video solutions. Study your failures for any part that does work or analize why something doesn't work. Make a loop of your test film and run it through a Moviola or projector over and over.

People outside your field might ask dumb questions that can jog your thinking into finding a solution. Just the process of trying to explain something to someone can often trigger paths to solutions. The more you try to explain things to someone, the clearer things can become in your own mind.

Many of our avalanche and moving background shots were developed over months of testing and thinking about them. Fred kept asking for effects that we thought couldn't be achieved. With time and testing we came up with solutions or discovered something else in testing that would work. Fred's dogged persistance proded us onto new ground. We argued a lot.

In building rigs I find it valuable to make a simple prototype with the least effort necessary. Often I let a prototype set around for as long as possible and think about solutions. Sometimes entirely different rigs, often simpler, evolve that will do the job. Often prototypes sit around until needed and then finished for the job. I also forget past solutions to problems and whack the side of my head for forgetting. It comes with age.

All of our avalanche solutions evolved out of a lot of testing and studying our tests. For example: we build a teeter-totter for a high speed shot of snow of many sizes of different materials coming at the camera. The camera was attached to the end of the teeter-toter. What worked well and that we could see by eye was a flat set tilted to where stuff was almost ready to slide. Ross suggested that we beat the back of the teeter-tooter to start the stuff sliding. It worked. We added a 1/3 horse electric motor with a counterweight on the shaft as a shaker to get the baking soda moving consistently on cue. Do you remember "Magic Fingers" at Motel 6?

© Copyright 2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.