Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996
>Published : 4th April 2007
>I'm going to be gaffering a job in the UK next month and there might be the possibility that we get a cherry picker for some of the night shoots.
>I've been on jobs where cherry pickers have been used but just wanted to get the lists advice and 'war stories' about using them to rig lights on.
>I know in the UK you've got to be qualified to operate them and that the truck mounted ones come with an operator, but what other do's and don'ts are out there?
>Andy Lowe writes:
class="style2">>>I've been on jobs where cherry pickers have been used but just >>wanted to get the lists advice and 'war stories' about using them to rig >>lights on.
>I haven't rigged lights on them but I've shot from them -- inside a large circus arena. Worked great, though those long fibreglass booms can get bouncy. So if you're working outdoors you might consider guying off the boom once it's set, so your lights don't waggle around in the breeze.
class="style2">>>I know in the UK you've got to be qualified to operate them and that >>the truck mounted ones come with an operator, but what other do's >>and don'ts are out there?
>Of course you want to make sure the truck's stabilizing outrigger jacks are set properly and that you're clear of any possible obstructions, power lines, etc, etc.,. But the operator should take care of all that stuff. Be aware that cherry-picker buckets are intentionally ungrounded, and that by adding lighting units you're putting grounded equipment up there. Just make sure the operator is fully aware of that.
>My 2c. Good luck!
Marin County, CA
>Dan Drasin writes :
class="style3">>>Of course you want to make sure the truck's stabilizing outrigger jacks >>are set properly and that you're clear of any possible obstructions, >>power lines, etc, etc.,.But the operator should take care of all that stuff.
>Although the operator SHOULD take care of that, there is a risk that they may be put under pressure to "do their job" which results in misjudgement of ground conditions. There was a rather unpleasant incident a while back where a unit with full load of lighting and operator tipped over. I think the lighting operator died later as a result, so take no chances.
>I use all types of Cherry Pickers on a regular basis to do lighting installation and have had very few problems. Use a good supplier like Nationwide as opposed to the cheaper suppliers. They tend to have newer equipment. Being based In Scotland we had a bit of an issue with the larger English access companies dumping their old crap up here. These would often break down (sometimes dramatically), so when Nationwide appeared with good modern machines we switched immediately and have been using them since.
>They are well used to doing regular film work so if you describe the application they will send a suitable unit and experienced operator if required. Some of their cages have special facilities for lighting and cameras.
>Fibreglass booms???? Don't like the sound of that!
class="style3">>> Fibreglass booms???? Don't like the sound of that!
>A note of clarification here:
>Most of the self-propelled boom lifts and articulated boom lifts (aka snorkel lifts, aka JLG lifts, aka Genie Lifts) use steel telescoping booms with bucket tilt and bucket swing both fully powered.
>Some of the truck-mounted booms, particularly those designed for tree-trimming and/or power line maintenance, have one or more fibreglass (or fibreglass, depending on location) sections in their articulated arms in order to provide electrical isolation between the bucket and the chassis.
>These units offer some interesting challenges regarding rigging:
>1/. The buckets are often a pair of side-by-side single buckets with the arm top pivot joint between them. Sometimes the bucket is a double bucket that allows you to move from one side to the other, but the pivot is still up near the top lip of the bucket. These buckets are generally fibreglass or some sort of plastic or resing and are devoid of separate safety rails - they can be a bit of a bitch to rig lights to. Back in the day when I was doing that sort of thing, I would find myself building a speedrail frame or ratchet strapping a large aluminium channel to the bucket in a fairly complex way in order to have something to which to rig. Because of the high pivot point, you have to be very careful not to invade the area through which the boom moves as the arm goes up and down. These rigs generally do not allow you to pan the bucket independent of the arm - if you want to pan the bucket, you need to pan the entire arm at the turret bearing on the base of the truck.
>2/. Many of these buckets do not have powered bucket levelling – they way they work is that the operator in the bucket sets and releases a tilt brake as the arm goes up and sets his bucket tilt hat way. This is fine for humans in a bucket, but if you rig lights (or cameras) above the pivot point you can easily overbalance the bucket – when you release the brake, the bucket then pitches forwards until it hits the stops - a particularly uncomfortable situation for the operator in the bucket. If this type of rig is the only one available, you need to rig sufficient counterweight to avoid this unfortunate consequence. This requires some careful thought...whatever you rig has to be able to sustain some bumping around if there are problems.
>When I have been forced to use this sort of rig, or unpowered fire engine ladder/snorkel buckets (generally overseas) I have always rigged counterweight out on a boom of some sort so that I can get the rotational neutrality I need while adding the least weight to the boom payload.
>NONE OF WHAT I DESCRIBE IS OSHA APPROVED- I WOULD NOT ADVOCATE ANYONE DOING THIS - I AM MERELY REPORTING ON A TECHNICAL SOLUTION TO A PROBLEM I ENCOUNTERED.
(used to do some of that)
>Dan Drasin writes :
>>>Of course you want to make sure the truck's stabilizing outrigger jacks >>are set properly and that you're clear of any possible obstructions, >>power lines, etc, etc.,.But the operator should take care of all that stuff.
I heard a horror story from a cherry picker operator that I was working with a long time ago.
>One of these trucks with a cameraman and operator in it, put an out-rigger through a sewer, and the whole thing fell over. I think the consequences were fatal . He told me this just before we went up to do some top-shots of a church tower!
>I tell you this not to scare you, but a few questions asked of people at ground level about hidden drains, sewers, train tunnels, soft ground etc etc, could make your trip skywards less of a white knuckle ride
>My two pence sterling's worth
UK based DP, AC, ETC