What Are You, New?

“I need two fat boys on a DeVito and have the grips box ’em in”: a cheat sheet for your first day on set as a juicer. Punch in, kid, and listen up.

So you show up for your very first day of work on set, and you tell the best boy electric, who isn’t any kind of boy you’ve ever seen, that you’re an electrician coming to work.

He says:

“You’re a set lighting technician, not an electrician. Here’s your radio. Do you have your own headset? No. OK, all production is giving us is Burger King headsets, so here you go. It’s no big deal tonight, just a small night exterior.

OK, so we’re running two five-piece runs of lug from the twins, one for set power and one for the Condors down the street. The 80-foot knuckleboom gets a dino underslung checkerboarded with narrows and mediums and the 120-footer gets two 18Ks for backlights on candlesticks in the bucket. Quarter blue on the Dino and ears on the 18Ks with a frame of quarter O. Make sure there’s a drop line and also an Opal and 250 frame for each head. Run the cable down the arms.

Where the set power four-ought ends, put a 1200-amp box and flow through with two-ought to the other side of the set and a 900-amp box. At each box, figure-8 a stick of banded and a 600 box for a dragout, and the gack pack is a 100-foot 220 Bates, a 100-foot 100-amp Bates, two 50-foot 100-amp Bates, a 120-volt snakebite, a 220-volt snakebite, two 100 to 60 splitters, two lunch boxes, and five 50-foot and five 25-foot stingers. Everything gets threefers. Even the spiders.

I want the set cart, the Kino cart, the tungsten cart, the Chimeras, and the open-face cart staged by the ass-end of that truck. We’re looking up towards that way so they should be safe there. Soldier up one senior, two mini-9s, two juniors, two babies, four tweenies, four blondes, and two redheads.

Put two more mini-9s on low combos for a 12-by griff the grips are putting over there on hi-rollers. Stage two of each on C-stands, fat and thin, men and boys and singles, all tungsten.

Up along the window inside the building, I want four 4-bys tungsten with 216 on the doors and no crates. No stands, just lay them on the ground with the backing plate.

Take a 26-degree leko and use the shutters to frame up the sign across the street. Put a frame of hamster on it to take the curse off. It’s going high, so don’t use a baby stand—pull the handwheel, put it in the bag with the iris, and use a three-riser combo.

Over by those shrubs, put three par cans with WFLs on beaver boards for uplights. Put a half and a quarter blue on them—put the half in the frame and C-47 the quarter over it; we’re going to audition it. Put variacs on them; you can gang up the first two.

We have a walk-and-talk, so rig up a china ball on a paint pole with a 213 and a hand squeezer. He’s probably going to want two fat boys on a Danny DeVito over-under in front of the truck at the end of the walk.

We also need to pull from the truck two 20Ks on Supers and get a low crank to staging, as well as the Dedo kit and a couple of rolling turtles.”

Got that?

This is what it means:

“You’re a set lighting technician, not an electrician. (In a studio environment, electricians are usually IBEW [International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers]. They operate the generators and also are responsible for stage power, while set lighting technicians are IATSE [International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees] and are involved with everything electrical past the power supply: lighting the set, work lights, hair dryers, coffee makers, etc. Nonetheless, ‘set lighting’ and ‘electrician’ are used interchangeably.) Here’s your radio (walkie-talkie). Do you have your own headset? No. OK, all production is giving us is Burger King headsets (the dorky headclamp kind, not the slick surveillance-mic kind), so here you go. It’s no big deal tonight, just a small night exterior.

OK, so we’re running two five-piece runs of lug (power cable in four-ought, or 0000, size; ‘five pieces’ means three-phase power with three hot legs. Lug connectors are solid brass ends that clamp onto distribution equipment) from the twins (two large, precision and soundproofed diesel generators mounted on one semi-tractor … one to use and one for a backup), one for set power and one for the Condors (manlifts) down the street. The 80-foot knuckleboom (the boom is articulated at the end near the basket, and usually also has a primary and secondary boom) gets a Dino (24 or 36 PAR 64 light bulbs mounted in one fixture, supposedly named for Dino DeLaurentiis) underslung (hangs down from the bail) checkerboarded (the globes [light bulbs] are in a checkerboard pattern) with narrows and mediums (a description of the shape of the beam output by the globes) and the 120-footer (120-foot manlift) gets two 18Ks (18,000-watt Fresnel lens HMI units) for backlights on candlesticks (a single steel post attached with chain vise grips, with a receiver on top to accept the mounting pin on the bail of the lamp) in the bucket. Quarter blue (1/4 blue color correction to daylight color from tungsten) on the Dino, and ears (adjustable brackets that attach directly to the scrim holders, or ‘ears,’ on a lamp) on the 18Ks with a frame (metal frame for attaching gels or diffusion; in this case it’s 4 feet by 4 feet) of quarter O (1/4 color correction to tungsten color from daylight color). Make sure there’s a drop line (rope to reach the ground) and also an Opal (Lee brand of diffusion filter) and 250 (Lee catalog number for another diffusion filter) frame for each head. Run the cable down the arms (tie the cable to the boom so the lift can be extended over a building or a street without the cable dropping into the shot).

Best Boy, eh? What Makes Him the Best?

Working on a film or TV show might as well require foreign language training. Check out our glossary of film terminology for answers

Where the set power four-ought ends, put a 1200-amp box (a type of power distribution equipment rated for 400 amps of power draw per leg; amp is short for ampere, a measure of electrical load) and flow through (connect cable to the output side of the box) with two-ought (00 size cable) to the other side of the set and a 900-amp box (distribution gear). At each box, figure-8 a stick of banded (in this case, it’s three-phase banded, five pieces of smaller cable tied together with friction tape or shrink wrap. How do I know it’s three-phase? Choose one: A) I just do. Or B) by adding an additional piece of cable you increase your capacity by 50 percent, and the trunk line [main cable run] is three-phase) as a dragout (cable laid out and then wrapped back to be easily pulled out when needed) and a 600 box, and the gack pack (power distribution accessories) is a 100-foot 220 Bates (100-foot-long cable with Bates-type connectors rated for 100 amps of 220-volt power), a 100-foot 100-amp Bates, two 50-foot 100-amp Bates, a 120-volt snakebite (a Bates-type connector with camlock or other type of connector for attaching to a distro box) a 220-volt snakebite, two 100 to 60 splitters (splits 100-amp Bates to two 60-amp Bates connectors), two lunch boxes (smaller distribution boxes with five 20-amp Edison [household style] outlets), and five 50-foot and five 25-foot stingers (extension cords with Edison connectors … except if you have to replace one, you need a male or female Hubble). Everything gets threefers (accessories for splitting a single cable into three pieces of wire). Even the spiders (spiderboxes are used to connect multiple pieces of lug cable together).

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2 Comments

Comments

Great article!

Small error towards the end of it. A variac is not a portable rheostat. It is a variable autotransformer which regulates voltage. A rheostat (hand squeezer, household dimmer, etc.) regulates resistance. The variacs are preferred for large sources because they do not generate as much hum as rheostats. Small lights on hand squeezers generate a small but tolerable amount of hum. Overall the article was fun and very informative.

Right on the money

My error for sure. I was using rheostat to mean “dimmer”, which is a general term for what they’re used for. In terms of the actual electronics … remember that part about “set lighting technician” vs. “electrician”? This is a perfect example of the difference. (although, from my memory, I thought inside the variac housing it says “rheostat”.) But he’s right … they are two different types of device. Good catch.