Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996

Who Do You Let Look In Your Viewfinder?

OK, so the subject says it all.

It's not something that used to bother me much because I've worn specs for 40 years so I never had my eye in contact with the V/F.

However, I've now got contacts and my eye physically makes contact with the eyepiece, I'm now worried about what I may catch from unprotected cinematography.

OK OK I try and practise safe viewing, using a teddy bears bum whenever possible, but it's just not always possible to change it at short notice and when the passion catches you.

So what do you do, limit your contact to a very limited number of people, if so who?

Cheers

Geoff Boyle


I had an AC make up a courtesy eyepiece cover that hung on a tether from the eyepiece. When someone came to peek she would politely ask them to use it. If they didn't remember to use it she would jam it in their eye! That combined with what became a pretty grubby eyepiece chamois, insured that people would only look through the camera when necessary, and also helped them to understand why.

-Anders


Carry a spare eyecup. That's what I do. I have spares for both of my Arri's, I instruct the AC to put a chamois on my eyecup, and leave the rubber bare on the other. This way, I can tell, from a distance, which cup is up when I see a client type or sweating crew-member heading toward the finder. I've caught 'pink-eye' twice in the past from eyecups....and that really sucks! Plus, since I am still too chicken to have the Lasik surgery [my wife had it 6 months back..LOVES it], I also have a correction optic placed into my eyecups, so instead of having to hear: "you are blind!" comments from the occasional eyepiece invaders, I stress with the AC to only us my cup when I'm up to bat.

Cheers, Jeff Barklage, s.o.c.

http://www.barklage.com


>Plus, since I am still too chicken to have the Lasik surgery [my wife had it 6 months >back..LOVES it],

Hey if you do get it. Don't go on one of those fad high protein diets. You may end up back where you were if you do.


When I worked as an assistant, I usually made a custom leather chamois for the eyepiece, that had a primary cover, and then a secondary, flip-over cover. The DP was the only one who used the primary one, and whenever anyone else stepped up to the camera, I would quickly flip over the second one, and they used that. This meant I really had to be on my toes to flip the cover over when the director would dive for the eyepiece, but it kept the DPs pretty happy. Especially since we always heard rumors of some sort of eye-fungus that was transmitted by looking through an eyepiece.

Also, eyepiece access was only granted to DP, first assistant, director and art director. Everyone else was told to look at the video assist monitor.

Marc Shipman-Mueller,

ARRI Technical Representative

1646 North Oakley Ave, Suite #2, Chicago, IL 60647-5319, USA

http://www.arri.com


>>The DP was the only one who used the primary one, and whenever anyone else >stepped up to the camera, I would quickly flip over the second one, and they used >that. This meant I really had to be on my toes to flip the cover over when the director >would dive for the eyepiece, but it kept the DPs pretty happy. Especially since we >always heard rumors of some sort of eye-fungus that was transmitted by looking >through an eyepiece.

Sounds like a nice rig. It is a real issue. Did a film in the Phillipines and my first AC had pink eye. He was always scrupulous about removing the eye chamois when he checked something, but it was still a little worrisome. It's also a good reason why you can't let just anybody walk up and look through the camera. I've had passers-by on the streets ask to look through the lens and they get very pissy when I say no, but hey, those are the rules.

Blain


We work in an animation studio with up to 15 cameras rolling (or should that be ticking, slowly) at any time. This means that any eyepiece I look down could have had any one of forty people rubbing their infected eyes across it.

My solution to this is to have a kind model maker vac form me a perfect eyepiece jonny which I carry on a cord around my neck. I clean this daily with an antiseptic wipe.

With a bit of care one could have a diopter fitted to the middle so that those of us who haven't braved the surgery can avoid the ribbing about our myopia.

The fit is so good that the jonny will stay attached when your eye leaves the eyepiece and doesn't significantly impede the look through. Having it on the lanyard means it pulls away when I step away from camera.

For those who are interested: Silicon mould of the rubber eyepiece cup, then a resin cast which gives a hard enough impression to vac form a jonny.

St.John Starkie Camera Hot Animation


My view finder attitude is if you want to look , please be my guest. On the last feature I shot I had the AC make a tape strip on the diopter with several individual's settings. Of course I, as the dp was the most far sighted and the range went down from there. I impressed upon everyone that the eye piece was my office and if you came into my office you were welcome, but you HAD to put things back where you found them before you left the premises. It worked, made the AC somewhat crazy, but we all got along and the people that needed to know things about the shot (Like art director, director) got to know them through the viewing system I used and not the lousy tap we had on the shoot.

Ultimately I think it is a generational thing. The older DP's I know tend to be more possesive ( I think insecure at heart) and tend to really restrict access to the view finder. Even though i should be a part of that generation by some counts, i tend to have a much more collaborative approach . Guest are welcome, but they also can be asked to leave.

OOps forgot to sign that post. & I know I 'm a repeat offender in that category.. Mark Smith dp/nyc


>I always encourage the gaffer to take a look at his work. It really builds a very nice professional atmosphere on the set, and anytime there is something really outstanding, like a great art direction visual object, or incredible sunlight streaming through a prop, anything, I always like to encourage that person, who is responsible for something incredible, the opportunity to see their handy-work through the lens.

Filmmaking is the biggest collaborative art form that there is, why not encourage more brilliant work? But, on the other hand, when I leave the dolly to grab an iced-tea at the craftservice table, I do not want to return to a mile-long line of eager eyeballs....

Cheers, Jeff Barklage, s.o.c.

http://www.barklage.com


Hi Geoff,

Welcome to a new view on the World, with your contacts. I never imagined that I would be discussing this subject with you.

In seriousness, it is a seemingly growing problem on-set. In the past few years a lot of the old rules have been replaced by a Glasnost like euphoria on-set, where everyone seems to want a look. The mystic is going with the retirement of the Old-guard, and Pop Promo camera-people coming up through the ranks, learning on the job. As I do a lot of Promos and such it really notices. Ode to do a film at the right money again... This fad is strange given the Video Assist's presence. I work the way I was brought up

My list is as follows :

AUTOMATIC ACCESS Director of Photography (If I'm Operating) Operator (if I'm lighting) Focus Puller

By invitation, request or previous agreement only, and not every time: Director Senior Continuity Person Senior Make-up Artist Producer/Agency/client (VERY Rare)

Anyone else is a monitor job.

At the slightest sign of an eye infection on any of the Main crew, I use the spare off the heated eyepiece or such for myself only. This is best if you are particularly worried. If you do have a lot of people using the V/finder, change TBA at lunch, maybe even morning and afternoon break (commercial budgets might stand this, film & TV I'm not so sure) The good news is, that In 10 years on-set I haven't caught one infection.

Of course it isn't a problem if you're in the habit of wielding a Steadicam, though it does leave you with an eerie Green glow.

Cheers,

Philip Covell

Steadicam Owner/Op. LEQ Ltd & Aerocrane London


Phillip Covell writes:

>In seriousness, it is a seemingly growing problem on-set. In the past few years a lot >of the old rules have been replaced by a Glasnost like euphoria on-set, where >everyone seems to want a look. The mystic is going with the retirement of the Old->guard, and Pop Promo camera-people coming up throughthe ranks, learning on the >job.

In olden days BVT (Before Video Taps -- yes there was such a time. I was there.) I shot a commercial which required a Titan crane. Everyone from the agency wanted to see the shot, which required rebalancing the crane for each person. The grips really loved this idea, but BVT was also the era when agencies and clients didn't seem to care about overtime.

My assistant had the annoying habit of closing off the viewfinder on the Panaflex at the prism every time we reloaded the camera. (You might guess where this is going.) We decided to let the agency folks ride the crane at the next mag change, which would give me a chance to go to the bathroom (loo). It was very, very cold. And I had been on the crane a long time. I was happy for the break.

Each person who "needed" to see the shot to "sign-off" on it -- and have his or her photo taken -- was taken up on the crane. The Creative Director, the Art Director, the Copy Writer, etc. Each in his or her turn looked through the viewfinder and attempted to crank the Worral. Starting with the Creative Director, they all duly approved the shot.

When I got back on the crane, with heavy parka, long viewfinder and seat belt, I asked the assistant to open the viewfinder since I couldn't reach the knob. It was then that we realized that the finder had been closed during this entire exercise. We said nothing.

Since then I don't really care who looks through the viewfinder, but I prefer not to have an eye-piece chamois and instead ask the AC to put one on when others look through. When bored, we still close the viewfinder and see who says anything

Brian "Thankful for Videotaps" Heller