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class="style1">Shooting On Ice Skating Rink

>Published :  27th June 2007

>Hi all,

>I'm due to shoot an ice skating scene abroad sometime next year... what are my options for camera support when shooting moving-camera scenes in a large ice skating rink?

>Thanks,

>Paolo Dy
Director/DP
Manila, Philippines


>I shot a MOW about ice-hockey players a few years back and we ran our Fisher-11 dolly DIRECTLY upon the ice!

>It worked great!

>The crew on the ice all had those slip-on cleats [that slip on over your shoes] and that made it very safe. For sticks, we used those rubber-backed rugs and placed the sticks with spreaders upon that.

>We did some long & fast dolly moves upon the ice with 2 grips pushing the dolly and then 2 grips catching it to help slow it down....very nice incredible shots.

Cheers,

>Jeff Barklage, s.o.c.
US based DP
www.barklage.com
view reel online: http://www.watchreels.com/jeffbarklage


>Paolo Dy wrote:

class="style2">>>I'm due to shoot an ice skating scene abroad sometime next year... >>what are my options for camera support when shooting moving->>camera scenes in a large ice skating rink?

>How Big a rink and what kinds of scenes? When you say Large ice skating rink do you mean a hockey rink? If there is any velocity involved a hockey rink will start to seem small very fast.

>If its simple ice skating that's one thing, but if its Olympic skaters executing routines that's quite another. I can skate and shoot and have skated with camera along side some Olympic level skaters. You'll never use a dolly at those kinds of speeds inside a skating rink. First you have to accelerate the thing, get in sync with the action for a few moments, then slow down and stop before you hit something hard. It won't happen. All laws of physics apply on ice rinks. Smaller and lighter is always easier.

>You could try a cable or spider cam arrangement over the rink if the action has some pace, just remember skaters can change direction and dynamic in a very short span of time. Know that its possible to go from 19 mph to near zero mph inside a few feet if you are throwing a triple or a quad.

>If its a romantic skating scene with plenty of cuts you could use a dolly. The key here is the balance between fluidity of movement ( that skating feeling) and the amount of cuts you can endure without killing the fluidity of the scene.

>I can't think of a good skating reference right now , but I recently did see "Stick It" a film about gymnastics which has a certain similarities to skating. The competition routines were cut so much that it really took the viewer out of the gestalt of the routine. This was done out of necessity as the characters in the film weren't performing the actual skills and the cutting was needed to cover the performance of the stunt doubles, and make the audience believe that the film's characters were performing the action on screen. That might be a balance you have to consider.

>I would get the biggest piece of ice possible. Hockey rinks are kind of the default size for area with the exception of the a place like the Petit Center in West Allis, Wisconsin which is the national training center for US speed skaters. In this case there is a 400 meter indoor oval that contains 2 hockey rinks within its perimeter.

>You can also look for a frozen outdoor pond which is larger than a hockey rink, and doesn't have dasher boards to limit movement.

>Mark Smith
DP NYC



Hi Jeff, hope you're doing well!

>Fisher actually makes ice skates for their dollies, just for this purpose. However, I can think of only one show where we ordered them, but never used them.

>Best wishes,
Graham Futerfas
LA based DP
www.GFuterfas.com


class="style2">>>Fisher actually makes ice skates for their dollies, just for this purpose. >>However, I can think of only one show where we ordered them, but >>never used them.

>I used the fisher skates a few years ago when shooting a figure skating routine. It was for a show on AMC, where we were recreating the end scene of the movie "Ice Castles". The skates worked really well for fast, straight-away shots, such as tracking alongside or in front, leading the actress. The only problem I found was turning. There are 8 skates, one for each wheel on the Fisher 11 we were using, and you had to be going at a decent speed to turn smoothly. When doing tight circles with the dolly, the skates tended to chatter a bit.

>This may have been because the dolly was fairly heavy. (We were using a MovieCam 35mm rig with zoom and a rather large DP.) I removed the inside skates, going with 4 instead of 8, this seemed to help some. Also, in putting the dolly through it's paces with less weight, it performed much better. Other than that it was great. Very smooth.

>On the cheap end, I would suggest something along the lines of a hockey puck dolly. Build a plywood platform and attach 4 or 6 hockey pucks to the bottom, add a bush bar and you've got a (very) economical alternative.

>Oh and the slip on things for your shoes are called Cat Tracks (Trax?).

>They are a must have!

>Good Luck!!!

>Paul Niccolls/NYC


class="style2">>>Fisher actually makes ice skates for their dollies, just for this purpose. >>However, I can think of only one show where we ordered them, but >>never used them.

>You were probably lucky you didn't try ;o) Only a company from LA would think that putting blades on a dolly would make it suitable for use on ice.

>What Mark Smith says is correct: objects in motion tend to remain in motion.

>Professional skaters -- whether figure skaters, speed skaters or hockey players -- make it look easy, but I can tell you from experience it is not easy to push a camera and cameraman and maybe an AC rapidly around a rink and stop them on cue.

>Brian Heller
IA 600 DP


>Thanks for all the ideas : I'll discuss them all with my team.

>Some details: It's going to be a figure skating competition, so definitely those fluid, romantic moves that were mentioned are critical.

>There will be two rinks, one Olympic-size (30mx60m) for the big competition, and the other smaller (840sq.mt.) which we're using as the 'practice' rink.

>Aside from the terrific suggestions raised, I was also considering using some sort of crane setup for the wider shots... has anyone tried this? Am I limited to keeping the crane's base OUTSIDE the ice, or can the ice take it?

>Thanks again to everyone!

>Cheers,

>Paolo Dy
Director-DP
Manila, Philippines


>For safely moving around on ice, golf shoes work great; real spikes only of course, the soft ones don't cut it!

>best,

>Christopher Seivard
DP/600/NYC&PA


>Hi Paolo,

>There will definitely be some restrictions regarding the ice, how many people can go on it, equipment, etc. They won't want you to damage the ice, but there are ways to put heavier equipment out there, like using plywood and mats.

>Check with your location rep.

>Best,

>Graham Futerfas
LA based DP
www.GFuterfas.com


>Brian Heller wrote:

class="style2">>>What Mark Smith says is correct: objects in motion tend to remain in >>motion. Professional skaters -- whether figure skaters, speed skaters >>or hockey players -- make it look easy

>Short story as illustration:

>I'm shooting Angelika Krylova and Evgeny Platov on a rink in NJ. They are going to do a star lift; Woman spread eagle balanced on partner's raised arm about 7 feet in the air, they are both rotating as they travel down the ice at 15 MPH. I've already shot the sequence from outside the rink.

>The plan: Canon XL 1 (at the time) with WA lens in my hands, me on skates.

>Pilot Error >> in the switch from Betacam to XL the DV tape doesn't load correctly. A few hurried moments and still no good. Can't just close the outer door and have the tape load, you have to push down the tape transport tray, then close the outer door.

Kids don't try this at home :


Ice time dwindling I throw a WA lens on the Betacam talk the skaters through the move, they come in on back crossovers going diagonally down the rink to maximize the distance travelled, I come in a moment behind them on front crossovers camera rolling. We're probably going 16-17 mph, as I asked for something less than performance speed to make up for dragging the Betacam with me. Timing is perfect I'm right under them rolling and framed with Angelika spinning overhead in a perfect star. They reach the end of their space and Evgeny sets her down and they veer off skimming the dashers.

>That leaves me with 22lbs of Betacam in my hands heading straight for the dashers. I go left with everything I have but the camera wants to go straight and suddenly feels like 44 lbs pulling me in the wrong direction.

>I managed to get the camera pulled into my chest and make the bend having brushed the dashers with my shoulder.

>The good news is you could never accelerate a dolly on skates with a DP and an AC on board to that speed inside that space. Nor would you stop it for that matter.

>The dolly on skates thing still seems a little iffy to me. If you have a lot of space and don't mind chopping up the ice with people wearing trax, it might be ok, otherwise it seems like a fanciful invention.

>Mark Smith
DP NYC


>Paolo Dy wrote:

class="style2">>>Aside from the terrific suggestions raised, I was also considering >>using some sort of crane setup for the wider shots... has anyone tried >>this? Am I limited to keeping the crane's base OUTSIDE the ice, or >>can the ice take it?

>Probably want to keep the crane base outside the rink unless you put plywood down under neath. Get a long jib arm remote head combo and put the jib pivot just outside the rink might be the best deal, or put it on a dolly parallel to the rink if you have the budget. Don't know if I would use it moving but if it were on a dolly at least you could easily re-po along the length of the rink.

>Mark Smith
DP NYC


>Don't reject the low-ball approaches....

>There are some shots that can be had with a cameraperson sitting cross-legged on a furniture pad (sound blanket) with one or two skaters pulling it along...tracking shots, leading shots...obviously not trailing shots

>Boy does your ass get cold fast.

An apple box on a furniture pad works pretty well too.

>Obviously these are not substitutes for something higher, and hand-held IS hand-held, but you would be amazed at how smooth this stuff can be if the operator can keep his/her breathing down. One advantage of this sort of low-tech rig for those shots where it will work is that the rig adds no real mass to the system...easy to accelerate and decelerate and not too many sharp edges when it all goes horribly wrong (and it sometimes does)

Another thing worth mentioning for those who have to stand around all day on the ice...Pak-boots (aka Sorels) or air force or army surplus Mickey Mouse boots work really well. You have no idea how much faster you lose heat through your soles on clean ice compared to snow.

Even if it is balmy fifty-five degrees up at your waist, it is pretty cold in the few inches above the ice where your feet are living.

Mark Weingartner
LA based (now) but no stranger to ice


>Mark H. Weingartner wrote:

class="style3">> Don't reject the low-ball approaches....

class="style3">>>There are some shots that can be had with a cameraperson sitting >>cross-legged on a furniture pad (sound blanket) with one or two >>skaters pulling it along...tracking shots, leading shots...obviously not >>trailing shots

>All work very well indeed.

I was a little reluctant to give advice that might be dangerous, but since the "Puck Dolly" has already been mentioned, you can do the same thing with a rigid chair and an attached push bar -- you need the push bar to provide leverage for steering. Leave the chair on ice when not in use so it won't stick to the ice. This is true of tripod spreaders as well. Chairs with metal buttons on the bottom of the legs work very well -- I think they're called "Domes of Silence" and can be easily attached to any wooden chair.

>IMHO, the ultimate ice rig is something like the puck dolly with skate blades attached instead of pucks. By means of a Speed-Rail cage the operator can by supported while standing or sitting and will have some measure of protection when the inevitable collisions with the boards occur. A triangular arrangement of three parallel blades like on a tripod worked best for us. BTW, 3/4" plywood was not rigid enough, we glued two sheets together and cut them into different sized discs. A circular design seemed to work best as this will allow the dolly to slide along the boards without much problem. Again the push bar must be long enough to provide the pushers with enough leverage to steer the dolly. For high speed runs, a locked off camera without an operator and with a monitor for the pushers can give some amazing results -- no operator for operator safety. It's also important to lower the center of gravity, a few sand bags will do the trick. You just have to be sure that all parts of the camera are inside the circumference of the dolly for camera safety.

>>Another thing worth mentioning for those who have to stand around all >>day on the ice... Pak-boots (aka Sorels) or air force or army surplus >>Mickey Mouse boots work really well.

>Very good advice. The boards around the rink contain the cold air. If you can get crew people who can skate, things will go better.

>Also check out the ventilation system -- otherwise there may be a level of fog near the ice which can obscure low level filming. Generally when there is no audience the ventilation/heating system is turned off. Make good friends with the maintenance people by a liberal dispensation a film swag or the like. Their cooperation is essential.

>With regard to cranes, etc., on the ice. Cranes usually weigh a great deal less than a "Zamboni" -- the water filled machine used to resurface the ice, so most artificial rinks will easily support even the largest of cranes. Supporting the weight 's not the problem.

>The problem with cranes is that unless the tires are pre-chilled, they will melt into the ice with surprising speed and will be frozen there. Even while you're crew is getting plywood in place. Since melting of ice is a function of pressure as well as temperature, the heavier the crane, the quicker this will occur and frozen tires can be extremely difficult to extract with the inevitable embarrassing delays.

>Speaking of delays, your schedule for shooting on ice should allow for two or three times the amount of time you would normally allow for filming under ordinary conditions particularly if your crew is not familiar with work on ice.

>Brian Heller
IA 600 DP


>Regarding a 'puck-cam'...on this MOW we rigged my old & trusty Bolex Rex-5 [with a tiny 100' daylight roll & a Tobin crystal motor with tiny strap-on battery] onto a 'curling stone'....the key grip rigged a ball-mount plate that was from the car mount rigging box, so we could aim the camera any way desired....no video assist mind you.

>Wonderful footage!

>We would have the guys fire up the camera and then push it as hard as they could push...and then let the hockey players chase & follow and actually strike the curling base with their sticks....and we ran it right into the goal's net.
Loved the footage.

>Of course, make sure the insurance certificate is correctly made out before hand.

Cheers,
Jeff Barklage, s.o.c.
US based DP
www.barklage.com
view reel online : http://www.watchreels.com/jeffbarklage


>There was a project here in town a few years ago that used a Fisher with the skate-blades, and although I wasn't involved I recall everyone being quite pleased with the result.

>Regarding the weight of a crane on the ice, I have 2 examples. A couple of years back I did a music video with one of the band members driving a Zamboni on a rink. (Hey, we're Canadian, what can I say?) We had the camera on a Jimmy-Jib with rubber tires, and had no trouble with it melting into the ice. As has already been mentioned, make sure the tires are cold before they touch the ice... It also helps to move it regularly, not leave it sitting in place for hours. If it must sit for long periods, then plywood would be your best bet.

>It was also very easy to move on rubber, as long as the grips are aware of the concept of momentum.

>More recently, doing a shot for a commercial on a Giraffe (with the base on track). Plywood was laid beneath the track, and again, no problems with the ice - much more weight than the Jimmy-Jib.

>George Hupka
Director/DP,Downstream Pictures
Listmum, Cinematography Mailing List
Saskatoon, Canada


>I used the fisher "skate" wheels on a hockey movie once. One thing to keep in mind: if the dolly sits still too long, the blades and dolly sink into the ice.

>Rick Lopez
DP/NYC
Website : www.lopezfilm.com


class="style3">>>Only a company from LA would think that putting blades on a dolly >>would make it suitable for use on ice....

>Hmmmm....

>You might want to ask the key grip of "Youngblood" about that! <g>

>They still list the skates as a rental item at PS in Toronto!

>http://www.psps.com/catalogue/pdf/psps_9.pdf

>$45/day!

>I would be surprised to hear of an earlier reference.

>David Perrault, CSC


>I would suggest - the very best "on ice" capability is the new "HAL UNMANNED" camera platform, which is electronically stabilized and driven by four torque motors that can be electronically programmed for specific ice conditions.

>I believe this is "hands down" the most advanced capability for moving a camera on ice as far as performance (acceleration, deceleration, high speed turns, etc.)that I have seen.

>It does not use "skates" or knobbed or ribbed wheels that can damage the ice, but uses smooth tires and they grip the ice amazingly well.

>It seems to be much smoother and far more powerful and manoeuvrable than man-pushed ice/camera rigs that I have seen. I operated the camera with wheels, but it also has joy sticks.

>I worked on this rig and also operated with it in a hockey application.

>We used it in low mode where the camera was just above the level of the ice, but it also has a remote arm that moves up to at least 6 feet.

>Peter Jensen
Camera Operator - Los Angeles, CA


class="style3">>>Only a company from LA would think that putting blades on a dolly >>would make it suitable for use on ice...

>You know, there are actually a few people in LA who know how to do some neat things...and an awful lot of rental houses have things that they will rent to you because they have them...because they built them for a particular shot for a particular commercial or feature...for which they actually worked remarkably well. (That doesn't mean it will work for your shot.) Some of the people working in LA even grew up on ice...the weather in LA is part of the reason they moved here.

>This forum has been pretty much free of the "those guys in <pick a country> sure can't set a flag like we can" sort of posts...let's not get too used to slagging off people and their skills in other markets. It's needlessly divisive. I didn't start my career in LA, and I hope that those of you whom I have been lucky enough to meet in the twenty or so countries in which I have been privileged to work don't think of me as a stuck-up jingoistic "the Hollywood Way is the only way" sort of guy...but there is a wealth of knowledge out here, and along with a large, highly skilled workforce, there is a good attitude and work ethic here too.

>It's not our fault that we seem to propel actors into politics

>Mark Weingartner
LA based


>David Perrault wrote:

class="style3">>>You might want to ask the key grip of "Youngblood" about that! <g>

class="style3">>>I would be surprised to hear of an earlier reference.

>I'm afraid there are a few areas of dropout in my memory banks, but I'm quite sure we used -- or tried to use -- a Fisher dolly on ice with blades well before 1976 -- absolutely several years before 1986 (Youngblood).

>I'm not sure if they were factory blades or locally custom made.

>As I recall, the blades worked very well for repositioning the camera and for moderate speed moves. Anything requiring speed -- the speeds one normally associates with ice hockey -- required other solutions.

>The statement that "Only a company from LA would think that putting blades on a dolly would make it suitable for use on ice." was an attempt at a humorous variation on J.L Fisher's
reply to a question about whether or not the dolly/blades would really work.

>In his rather colourful way, I think J.L. actually said something like: "How the --- should I know? And what do you expect from a guy from LA?" -- and a great deal more.

>My apologies to any and all who took that to be a slur on the competence of anyone currently living in the greater LA area, whether or not they are actually "from LA"

>P.S. Now that I'm thinking about it, I think we got some terrific POV shots by putting an Arri S on a small plywood disc attached to a hockey stick and having one of the Bruins skate around with it -- although I'm not sure that he didn't just grab it and take off with it.

>Brian Heller
IA 600 DP


>Paolo,

>If you are using Rene and Rufo (Balikas Grip).. please let them know I said hi! I DP'd DOOMSDAYER in Subic Bay years back. (Wasn't sure if you saw the response to your post re: Per Diem).

>David Rakoczy
Dir/DP
LA./ Florida


>>>The good news is you could never accelerate a dolly on skates with a >>DP and an AC on board to that speed inside that space. Nor would >>you stop it for that matter.

I saw the HAL unmanned ("SUPER DOLLY") tested on ice at a skating rink in Los Angeles, they were running two stab heads simultaneously (looked like wide angle and telephoto) and it could stop on a dime.

It was amazing. I have never seen anything that I would consider to be even close to as effective for ice!

Has anybody seen it or know how it works?

>Josh Fink
L.A.