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Steadicam to Snorricam with no cuts...


Charles Papert
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On one particular sketch for Key & Peele, director Peter Atencio wanted to do the "Snorricam" aka Doggicam routine of attaching the camera to our man Keegan Michael-Key to point back at his face, and he wanted to use the same camera (F3) that we shot the rest of the sketch on rather than a GoPro etc. No problem, until his next request: "can the camera fly at the actor so we see him head to toe, and then basically attach itself to him?" I spent a while pondering this. Had a chat with the good folks at Doggicam and they suggested an electromagnetic rig they had built for another purpose, where the camera would be walked in handheld and essentially deposited on a platform built out from the actor, then the switch thrown to lock it in place via electromagnet. I was a little dubious at how that would affect the sensor, plus I had visions of all of the metal objects in the set unmooring and hurtling towards Keegan (a la the Bugs Bunny cartoon) but most importantly, the rental would cost $1000 plus the digital post work to remove the harness assembly, and we didn't have the budget.

 

So I started thinking about a super-lightweight rig that could be flown up to Keegan and have him bring his hands up to receive it out of frame, then have him pilot it around. I still had my Nimblecam at that point and stripped it down to the bare essentials and we did a test that proved it could work, if he timed bringing his arms up just right.

 

Nick Franco manned the awkward little rig and Keegan dead-armed that sucker through 12 or so takes (as light as it was, it still wasn't THAT light) and it worked out great! So here you can see how it ended up in the edit. Unfortunately it jump cuts around so the impact of having it all happen in one take is somewhat diminished. Then there's a behind the scenes clip of how we did it, and finally an easter egg that has become something of a legendary moment on Key & Peele; we are no stranger to the "keep the camera rolling" philosophy that permeates nearly every set and so between takes I came zipping in to check on a hot spot in the background, so intent that I didn't notice the glass wall in my way. Slammed into it face first. Editorial gave me the clip with a little audio sweetening at the moment of impact. People three rooms away said the walls shook. Good times.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hH4MKxey_rQ&feature=youtu.be

 

Here's the complete sketch:

https://vimeo.com/54162833

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Oh man, running into a window is no definatly fun and worse it's as embarassing as hell. Hope your face and your pride did not suffer too much.

Ha, I guess not too much or I wouldn't have posted it!

 

I actually got very lucky on the face--medic pelted me with ice and Advils and it barely swelled. I was a little brain-dead for the next 24 hours though.

 

About a year later I did another shoot at this location (Avenue Six stages in LA) and coming face to face with my old enemy, couldn't resist recreating the moment...post-79-0-36088500-1361287248_thumb.jpg

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