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Sound carts on process trailers/camera cars.


traut
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I have seen numerous pictures of sound carts strapped to process trailers or camera cars and have always wondered why. My experience has been, #1, there is no room for a cart and #2, why?

I have never needed more than two mics in a car and find that, once it is rigged, it is much more comfortable to ride shotgun with the camera car driver. Warm in winter and cool in summer.

My boom rides the trailer wearing a comtek to track down squeaks and rattles and we usually plant a mic so I can hear what's going on on the trailer and to get sticks.

I also stick a speakeasy in the car with a PTT so the director can talk to the talent.

The hardest part is usually getting the entire apparatus quiet.

Flapping gels, squeaky barndoors, rattly trailers.

 

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The reason is, there are many ways to skin that car rig cat.

 

A lift-and-strap of the cart and sound's ready. It's fast.

 

All the little things I might possibly need are at hand by default, including backup TX/RX. Stuff happens.

 

Downside? Costs beer.

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I never used to put the cart on the process trailer --- always rode in the cab next to the Camera Car driver. The first time I ever put whole cart on the process trailer was on a movie in New York. The Camera Car showed up and it was nothing like I had ever seen before --- I think it was from Chapman and looked like a Chapman crane that had all the crane stuff stripped off of it. I was looking to load my gear and myself into the cab but the cab was a one-seater, just a little compartment for the driver (like you see on a crane). The rest of the vehicle was just a big, flat platform. The grips had to build some stuff for the Director and Script to sit on and I pretty much had to just put the whole cart up on the platform and tie it down.

 

What I discovered was I really like not having to pull stuff off the cart or get an additional equipment out of the truck and rig the cab area as I had always done before --- once the cart was up it was just like working from the ground --- no need to use any different equipment, no need to disconnect or re-connect stuff (and worry that it might not work, etc.) and I had ALL the same tools available. I liked it!

 

So, I started doing this on a regular basis and continue to this day unless it is just not possible (camera car is fitted with a crane, tow bar instead of process trailer and lighting/cameras on the Camera Car, etc.). The only downside, for me, has been resistance from Grip Dept. sometimes, and/or Camera Car driver, and being out in the weather rather than in the cab.

 

I still have to have multiples on equipment and some sort mobile rig to go in the cab if I have to, but my preference would be to put the whole cart on the Camera Car.

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I prefer to have my cart driven around in the back of someone else's rig AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE. Even if they offered, I'd decline and prefer to mix from a bag rig in the cab. Even if the cab wasn't available (as Jeff described), I'd sit in the back with a bag rig on my lap - the choices available today are capable of covering any scenario I could think of in terms of number of tracks, etc.

I just don't see any reason to expose my cart to all those variables, and subject it to all that bouncing around unless absolutely necessary - and it's yet to be necessary for me... just my $.02

~tt

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I've been a fan of both methods over my career. In the old days it was always up front in the cab. These days it is the whole cart on the back when possible. Car shots used to be easier, one mic mostly. These days I need more mics and I'm transmitting to a number of things like the camera(s), Comteks, ifb's, the people mover, and it is just easier to pop the cart up on the rig. All methods are good if they work.

CrewC

post-10-0-39291700-1368375366_thumb.jpg

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I have to admit, there is a slight appeal to it -- it would be much simpler to just settle in behind my cart up in a truck bed (weather permitting, of course), but I think I'd be nervous -- even with all the extra work to build out a bag and mount antennas, I will probably always prefer to go minimal on process rig / mobile shots. Maybe I haven't experienced the really nice process rigs like I'm sure you (above posters: Jan, Jeff, Crew...) have. Crew, you look really comfortable there : )

~tt

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I can't think if a time where even my small footprint cart would have a space on the back. Maybe it's just the types of projects I have been on, and I feel I have ridden in all the "regular" cars in Los Angeles.

I have a separate rig all ready to go for car work, so nothing comes off the main cart. I even have spare antennas now. So there's no reason to get on as far as I'm concerned.

But I wouldn't object to it at all if that was the deal.

I would NEVER, however, ride on the front, which I believe has been exhibited here in a photograph.

Robert

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We were chasing vintage F1 cars around a block in San Francisco and the director wanted me to ride on the back porch of a race camera car to get some efx.

I clamped two 82 shotguns on the front and plugged them into my IVS-TC.

I asked the driver how fast we would be going and he replied "pitifully slow".

As soon as we set out, I was hanging on for dear life.

I remember going round a corner watching a little boy and his mother pointing at me and I am quite sure he was saying "look, Mom, that man is going to die"!

When we finally pulled in, I had the grips build me a cage with a harness and cadged a helmet.

I can't tell you how many trunks of cars I have ridden in.

Now that is all in my sordid past.

Retirement is starting to look pretty good.

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The camera cars where I live are all too small to consider putting even a small cart on them.  They are usually crowded with an illegal number of people, and often someone more important has staked out the passenger seat in the cab (if there is one, and it isn't already full of other gak).    The thing I find I have to be the most proactive about is restraining the AD etc about moving the rig until I'm really ready--ie safely rigged somewhere and sounding good.  There are so many landmines for sound on a car rig that has lighting on it that one has to be very thorough about buzzes and rattles, and let the AD know that there will be time needed for adjustments after the first run (which is the first time you really find out if everything is working ok).  

 

philp

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I would NEVER, however, ride on the front, which I believe has been exhibited here in a photograph.

Robert

I think that's a photo of me - or at least, I have done it once before and have a photo of it. 

 

We were shooting in a townhouse in Manhattan and had to move outside and get onto a process trailer that had already had a very good head start on being prepped (It's nice to be able to send the Utility out ahead of time, but when they're stuck inside with you, doing 2nd boom, we don't get to join in on the head start). 

 

On this process trailer, we were towing a 15-pass van and the choices were: disassemble the cart into portable mode and go into the front cab or put the cart on the front apron. We went with the front apron. I had to be as far to the passenger side as possible so the driver could see past me and we strapped it in. The AC who was doing the monitors helped us out with a cabled monitor that he rigged up to my cart since they had removed the SD transmitters and downconverters in their rush to rig the cameras. 

 

I think we ended up using 3 mics, 1 planted up front for the driver who had the majority of the dialogue and 2 in the back for kids who had scripted and unscripted lines. Seeing the video helped with the free-form-ness of the scene. 

 

I'd say all we did was drive slowly around the block 3 times with police escorts in front and follow vans distantly behind. But it was in Manhattan, so maybe a crazy idea to begin with. Just as with any process trailer, sometimes the benefit of having your cart and main mixer aboard (and able to use faders instead of pots on a portable rig) gets overshadowed by the need to use your hands to hang on.

 

Josh

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I have the photo somewhere - on my computer or my phone or Facebook - but I still haven't figured out how to put a picture onto this site since the last big change-over. 

 

Just make sure you are using the Full Editor (or "More Reply Options" if you are in a Reply mode) so that the "Attach Files" option is displayed and the "Choose Files..." button is there. Once uploaded, I usually use the "Add to Post" which will insert the image at the cursor point.

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That pic was already in the "gallery" so I was able to "link" to it that way. But I think if I need to add any new pics, I'll go off your directions. If that works, it'll be a big help (or hindrance if I start posting a bunch of stupid photos of my dogs). 

 

Thanks!

 

Yes, Crew, you got to do strange things. Actually, on a more recent job, I was in the back "trunk" area of a hatchback SUV. Not so uncomfortable but I was just behind the actor and tempering my desire to lean forward and say hi to the actor during the shot became another task besides just mixing. Strange, make-believe business. 

 

Another one: I'm not sure of the episode aired yet or not (I still need to watch this past Saturday's), but we "shot a commercial" on Smash - or filmed a scene of one of our actresses filming a commercial and the entire sound department got to be in the scene at different points. Again, difficult not to sit there and smile guiltily when the camera is now aimed at you.

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Being on my 4th Sound Cart build, and about ready for my 5th build, I am designing a much more efficient and lighter cart, possibly without the 01v96; this is one of the reasons why. I mix a fair amount of car rigs with my commercials, etc. With what Jeff was saying, there are advantages to using your cart platform on the process trailer/camera car.....but sometimes depending on the space available and the complexity of the rigging, that is not possible. At that point I have my Mixer/Recorder bag ready which pretty much is the same set-up and workflow as my cart rig. I built a special 50', 6-pair cable going from bag rig to the practical vehicle. This has suited me well, and its easy to set up. To me it's all about flexibility. 

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I once spent a long night with my cart on a merry-go-round.

I couldn't get decent radio mic reception from the closest stationary hiding spot, so I found a wheel chair lockdown spot on the opposite side of the merry-go-round from where we shooting a long dialog scene. The wheel chair holder fit the spread of my PSC upright sound cart wheels perfectly, so there I sat all night going around and around (trying not to get dizzy).

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I once spent a long night with my cart on a merry-go-round.

I couldn't get decent radio mic reception from the closest stationary hiding spot, so I found a wheel chair lockdown spot on the opposite side of the merry-go-round from where we shooting a long dialog scene. The wheel chair holder fit the spread of my PSC upright sound cart wheels perfectly, so there I sat all night going around and around (trying not to get dizzy).

Now that's a nightmare.

CrewC

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I once spent a long night with my cart on a merry-go-round.

I couldn't get decent radio mic reception from the closest stationary hiding spot, so I found a wheel chair lockdown spot on the opposite side of the merry-go-round from where we shooting a long dialog scene. The wheel chair holder fit the spread of my PSC upright sound cart wheels perfectly, so there I sat all night going around and around (trying not to get dizzy).

That's up there with "car-trunk duty".

 

philp

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