Shane Hurlbut talks about how he got his start in the business before diving into how to create the super soft look of a Book Light.
How did I start out? What was my path to becoming a cinematographer? How do you recommend going about being a DP? I get asked these questions on a daily basis. My path has been one that only a few have traveled. Most cinematographers started out as a camera assistant, then moved to focus puller, then operator and eventually cinematographer. I came from the lighting side. I was a grip truck packer first. Day in and day out, I loaded grip and electric packages for crews. This was my job right out of film school. I quickly learned all of the names of every grip and electric tool, but not how to use them. That would come with more experience. I feel that this knowledge of the tools of the trade is absolutely essential to being able to communicate to your crew effectively, plus it makes you really fast. You don’t have to say, “Give me something kind of big over there, and a small light over here and bounce into something white.”
I moved from packing trucks to driving them. I first received my commercial license to drive while growing up on our 350 acre farm in upstate New York. Driving the big 10-ton grain trucks was part of my childhood, so now I was driving the trucks and learning set etiquette. I was running all different types of gear into the set, learning what all of these things do, while keeping my arsenal of gear organized and repaired. I had to learn how to fix everything — HMI’s, Xenon’s, tungsten heads, you name it. I had to learn to solder, understand electronics, interface with the lighting and grip departments as well as production. Talk about immersive photography; this was immersive learning, boots on the ground, in it with tons of responsibility.
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