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Larry McConkey

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Larry McConkey last won the day on December 10 2021

Larry McConkey had the most liked content!


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  • Rig
    Tiffen Ultra2
  • Location
    New Jersey, USA

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  1. Andrew, and Adam, and anyone else... 2 questions: 1 - have you tested changing fore/aft balance as I suggested above and then trying to hit the button after a tilt? I would love to know if this is generally true that a slight error in fore/aft balance contributes to this “bump” or if it is just on my Volt. 2 - I have been thinking about increasing the length of time the Volt stays in sticky mode after hitting the button in normal mode. It is a very short time now. That might remove the .2 second anticipation you are using. Any thoughts?
  2. One of the changes to the firmware that Steve Wagner made to v1.7 was to briefly switch into sticky mode before returning to normal mode. I suggested that because sticky mode dampened problems with timing when releasing the tilt pressure after hitting the button. What I have found now is that if there is a "bump" up after hitting the button it is likely caused by a very slight error in static balance - the sled being slightly back heavy ; if there is a bump down, the reverse is true. I test it and make a slight fore/aft adjustment if there is a bump...
  3. No, back to Tiffen. I like tuning the arm so it is perfectly happy to stay at any height. I like that iso-elastic. I also like changing the spring tension while wearing it, often adjusting as I walk to the start mark. It is lighter as well, but I did love how smooth the PRO arm was, and there was very little weight change swapping lenses, so I never adjusted it... It was always just a little too weak for the load, but the differences were very minor.
  4. The Tiffen arm would lift the weight and even more, but it was twisting under the load and that caused unacceptable friction, somewhat erratic at that. I rented a PRO arm loaded with the highest spring rates and cranked them to the very top. I left that setting untouched throughout the shoot - worked beautifully.
  5. Heden Website lists the M21VE at 150g
  6. I am with Andrew Ansnick on this one - do exactly as he says and you can make the Steadicam look as smooth and stable as a dolly, regardless of the equipment. Do anything else and I don't believe it is possible when moving very slowly and there is nothing to distract from the move (like following or preceding an actor, especially if they fill a good portion of the frame. It can't be done without the hard work he detailed so carefully - there are no shortcuts. If you are making faster moves, the arm (whatever the type) and the inertia of the sled will do most of the work. I have spent many hours doing what Andrew described, and I only did that difficult training because it is sometimes necessary, and nothing else in my experience will make the Steadicam move through space without any noticeable deviations in direction, height and/or speed. It becomes a question of "what is good enough" like so many things...
  7. I posted on the G50/G70 - G50X/G70X forum about my experiences to date with several arms if anyone would like to read that. I tried to be as objective as I could. Hoping to test a G70X soon and I will report on that as well...
  8. I have used Cinema Product’s arms and now Tiffen’s arms for many, many years but I have tested PRO arms very carefully as well from time to time. I have a G70 and have not tried the new X design, but I would like to soon. Filming “Hugo” required me to carry two full size Alexas on a newly designed PACE 3D rig. I hope no one else will have to carry such a heavy package – it was considerably heavier than the IMAX packages I have flown over the years. <BTW: I began eager discussions of a two part ‘M’ version with Neil Fanthom, the lead Arri technician on “Hugo”, even as he coordinated the last modifications to these first factory release full size cameras. I finally used one of the ‘M’ prototypes during the last few weeks of “World War Z” and it was extraordinary: the same quality image with a fraction of the weight and size on my sled, most of the weight being carried by my hardworking grip on a backpack and connected only by a thin, very flexible fiber optic cable. The latest PACE 3D rigs now use the ‘M’.> The Tiffen G70 lifted this incredibly heavy load quite easily after adjusting the allen bolts at the end of the arm links to increase its top end lifting capacity. This weight was clearly more than the arm had been designed to handle, however, and it caused enough lateral twisting of the arm that the gimble handle had a strong tendency to “run downhill”, that is, the arm post was no longer vertical and the handle did not like to stay in the position I wanted it in. I had modified my arm to increase the friction when necessary to offset this precession, which occurs to a much lesser degree with more normal loads (the same thing happens with PRO arms especially with the lower friction design they use but to a slightly lesser extent) but the amount of twist was alarming and the boom response of the arm was not as linear as it normally is – it felt quite “springy”, more like the first CP arms than this much higher tech Tiffen version. I got in touch with Chris Edwards at Optical Support, the Steadicam dealer in London and arranged to test one of their PRO arms with the heaviest set of springs they could find in their inventory. I cranked them both to the top setting and it just handled the load. The overall reach of the arm was less, however, and did not work as well as my longer G70 with my Klassen back mounted harness. I have used a solid socket block that I designed, which does not include the spring loaded hinge design that all stock arms have, as I have found this hinge causes a loss of precision in controlling the sled when using a back mounted harness. Chris and I came up with a design for a long, rigid socket block design which he then fabricated and the Production rented this arm for the run of the show. I never adjusted the springs for the movie, even when changing lenses, as I never had too much lift with the lighter lenses, only slightly less than I would have preferred with the heavier lenses, but the linearity of the arm made it a very small issue. I found the PRO arm to be beautifully smooth and linear in response and I really liked using it. I still had some twist in this arm which I had to counter with a custom friction lock on the post mount, but it was a lot less alarming. After “Hugo” I went back to the G70 and really liked coming home to it as well. At more normal operating weights, they perform quite similarly. I have the bearing upgrade and that has helped the smoothness noticeably. I am anxious to try the new X model. The main differences I see are between the weights of the arms (the PRO is quite a bit heavier) and the ease of adjustment (the Tiffen arm is a joy to adjust) and of course the difference in cost. Overall the PRO probably requires less maintenance with the enclosed spring cartridges and massive structure but more effort adjusting which can sometimes result in operating a shot with a less than ideal setting, which does bother me some. The PRO is much easier to adjust than my previous CP arms, but I really, really like the easy tweaking of the G70 and have even changed the setting during a shot several times to improve the response. Particularly with the back mounted harness, which uses these arms in an orientation they were not designed for, fine tuning of either arm is more critical (I could never go back to a front mount, however, I would have to find a new career instead, the physical strain on my lower back is dramatically greater with a front mount vest - but I know other operators who can't imagine working with the back mounted harness...) That the significance of “ease of adjusting” is more than a convenience for the operator was made apparent to me on my first shot on “Snake Eyes”. I had worked with Brian DePalma on 5 or 6 films previously and so he was well used to my procedures. I called out “Ready” before the first rehearsal and Brian yelled out “Whoa, whoa, whoa!!” in response. It was rare to hear him talk much at all on set, even more so in a loud voice. “Why aren’t you fiddling?” he demanded. It took me a moment to realize what he was asking about. I was using both the new wireless motorized stage controller and the tool-free arm for the first time on one of his movies. He had learned to incorporate the amount of time required to get my Steadicam “tweaked” perfectly before each take into his calculations for doing a Steadicam shot. I now could make those tweaks as I strolled up to the start line and that had startled him. I never realized before that moment that this might impact more than my own sense of preparation and comfort level. Lesson learned… I am now operating my first TV show, “Nurse Jackie”, as an A/Steadicam Operator, and the pace is higher than on most of the features I have worked on, and the ease of adjustments of the sled and arm are a real advantage here as well. There is little patience on the part of the whole cast and crew for “tweaking” when we have many pages to get through before heading home. I would love to have both arms so I could choose the best tool for each setup, but that is not financially feasible. I think they are both extraordinary instruments, much improved over Garrett’s original design, which was an extraordinary achievement in itself, resulting not from improvements, but from a whole new concept never before imagined. The relatively subtle improvements in that design which these two companies have produced are welcome, especially as the requirements and expectations of increasingly sophisticated operators have increased over the years. I love the diversity of choices now, each new design pushes the development from every manufacturer and we are the beneficiaries.
  9. I agree. But again, this wasn't a case of being replaced - they are trying to find an Operator/Steadicam Operator to work the next season fulltime. Apparently the PM doesn't think I would do that if offered it and is more hopeful someone else will - they may have done this completely by accident, it is hard to figure out really what the motive would be otherwise, but what I can't stand is they not being upfront and honest about what happened... it seems more and more productions are run on the belief they can and should do whatever it takes to get the best deal from everybody, especially crew, and try to devalue crew members to just a commodity. At least in this case they are willing to give me two days payment, which is the right thing to do (even though they "never booked" me) - so in the end I am not losing out financially, but I have to wonder if someone else in my place might have... I am really ranting about the overall slide this business seems to be taking towards devaluing people whenever possible and making decisions based on what looks best on a spreadsheet instead of what actually gives the product value. I know this incident doesn't fit perfectly into that description of a declining system, but one component of this decline is the growing disregard for honesty and integrity. The single most troublesome component is the long, long hours without serious additional compensation to help control it, especially with ever later call times during the week which result in crewmembers staggering around inefficiently and sometimes dangerously. It rarely makes sense except on a spreadsheet, and almost never in terms of treating people with care and respect. Quite often I see fairly simple setups becoming long, complicated affairs because everybody is too tired to function well, but that doesn't show up on those spreadsheets! The most telling aspect of this decline has been the consistent advice given to a young friend of mine who has become interested in the business through his relationship with me. I began taking him along to jobs and introduced him to my fellow crewmembers explaining that he was very interested in getting into the business. They have all said the same thing without hesitation or exception: "Don't do it!!" Now that is really sad. Larry
  10. Thanks Ron. I don't care about losing the work, only about how it was handled. Thanks for your concern. Larry
  11. Thank you Rob, but to be clear about this, the operator replacing me had no knowledge about this whole thing (we have talked about it on the phone) and he also made a trip to be here for the three days. There may have indeed been some miscommunication, but it was convenient miscommunication which has clearly been going on as standard operating procedure - a "fog of war" that allows for maneuvering without having to be upfront about it. At best, a very sloppy way to do business. In addition, clearly my agent has been given contradictory and shifting verions of what has happened. There have also been such striking contradictions that clearly somebody or somebodies are lying - and that is something I can't stand. I understand changing your mind, shifting schedules, making mistakes, having miscommunications, but what I cannot condone is lying about this. I don't mind anything done or said as long as everyone is honest about what they are doing. I want to be able to take people at their word. That should happen no matter what the circumstances. Larry
  12. A Heads Up about another in the increasing occurences of dishonorable conduct from production companies. I have been happily doing dayplaying every week or so on Ugly Betty and it has been a great deal of fun. Each time I was booked by the Production Coordinator through my agent and although the call times were often changed at the last minute and I was never informed by Production about the change, and often not about the call time at all, the stellar camera department filled in the details for me and I always got to the right set at the right time. As far as I know, it was a mutual love fest. Several weeks ago, before the Xmas break, I was booked for two and subsequently three days this week on the show. At the end of last week my agent reconfirmed with the Production Coordinator. My parents both suffered unexpected health problems and I rushed up last week to help them with all the details of hospital stays and surgery, along with my brother Jim, but my father returned home and then my mother was released from the hospital yesterday, so I made the trip home today in time to get the equipment ready for the job the next three days - and these details don't really matter, but I spent a great deal of money, more than I would be making on the job, to rush home because I had made the commitment to work on the show. Tonight I called the camera department to get a heads up on the call time for tomorrow and was told that they were informed that another operator was booked for the same three days! The "explanation" was that he was interested in doing the show full time next season and the Production Manager had heard that neither I nor my brother Jim (who had also been dayplaying when I had a conflict) were not. My agent had only expressed both our interests in doing the show, however, and I had never said I was not interested, but this is really beside the point! I was booked for three days and then, without even informing me, the Production Manager decided to book someone else. My agent called the coordinator who had done the booking who confirmed that I had indeed been booked, but then the Production Manager claimed that the coordinator never did the bookings (she had ALWAYS done the bookings), so there really had been some misunderstanding. My problem with this "confusion" is that it is too convenient, obviously not true (did I just happen to show up all those other days without being booked and got paid but was never booked??) but more important, is indicative of a growing attitude to disrespect individuals in this business and regard them as mere chess pieces to be manipulated in the grand game of advancing the studio's interests. There should be honor among individuals in this society. It is the fabric that holds us together. To make it always and only about money and advancement, regardless of what is the right and honorable thing to do is indefensible. Enough of the high-handed rhetoric, but the bottom line is beware of bookings for Ugly Betty... it can become ugly. I was really shocked when my agent informed me that the Production Manager than said she had a couple of days next week and would I be interested???k!!@!!!!! Let us all strive to stick together and keep each informed of what is happening in the industry especially as we enter these turbulent economic times. As a footnote, I just got a call from my agent saying that the Production Manager, who still claims I was never booked, now told her that they will pay me for two days! For work she still claims I was never booked for.....and she didn't understand why my agent was disturbed about what was going on!!! Peace, Larry
  13. That was me! That was also the best job I ever had!! I was only needed every few days during the tour and so my wife and I split the rest of the time touring France and checking out the Tour with our all access passes! We became instant and lifelong fans of racing with this experience. Unfortunately, most of the work I did was shots of Tyler Hamilton which were all cut from the film when he was disqualified. A lot of the film had to be reshot back in the US to replace all that coverage of Tyler and that was when Dan stepped in. I haven't seen the film yet but hope to soon. Larry
  14. I just did a job for Sony TV. It was a pilot in Chicago called "The Beast". Production arranged for Fedex to pick up the equipment, and one piece did not show up. Fedex finally declared it missing. I had an insurance certificate with my corporation listed as a loss payee. But Sony said they were not going to reimburse for the loss and I should "go after Fedex". I will continue to fight this, but from now on I will ask for a signed contract , and it will specify door to door as well as replacement value! Larry McConkey
  15. I´ve just to see again Carlito´s way. Mr. McConkey... Such a good steadicam work..

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