It’s that time of year folks -- Thanksgiving! A time where we celebrate, according to lore, when the Native Americans and pilgrims sat around all chummy-like and raised a goblet (Goblet? Glass? Cup? Flask? Who knows?) to give thanks for their completely peaceful, nonviolent, and bloodless union and teamwork to build America! Even the turkeys that were sacrificed at the altar of gratitude had no choice but to be humbled to be selected to roam the serene fields of the turkey afterlife for such a celebration.
Here at Trove, we too have so many things to be thankful for, from Michael Bay’s career, thank you for teaching us what not to do, Michael, you cinematic martyr, to a foul-mouthed Santa with an animated bear named Paddington (check out this commercial at about the 1:12 mark, you won’t believe your ears). But in the hardcore, nonstop, intense profession that is video production, there are certain pieces of equipment, equipment which the common man cannot possibly imagine or wield without decades of studying and training, that we are so thankful for it borders on the romantic. So, for this Thanksgiving, we’ve decided to grant all of you, our loyal readers, a glimpse into the use of eight pieces of intricate, near-incomprehensible, astonishingly advanced equipment which we simply couldn’t live without. Read carefully-- these are easily the densest concepts we’ve ever discussed in our blogs. So, without further ado, here’s what we’re thankful for!
1. Planet of the Tapes -- Gaff Tape
To call gaff tape “just another tape” is like referring to “Citizen Kane” as “just another movie,” or Buncha Crunch as “just another movie theater candy.” No, gaff tape is its own beast, a miracle of modern craftsmanship and a must on any production shoot. So what, one may ask, is the difference between gaff tape and the tape of plebeians? Well, it comes in different colors, for one. Very aesthetically pleasing. Roy G. Biv would be flattered at the vast color palette employed by the gaff folk when it comes to their tape selection. Not only is it easy on the eyes, but it also tears with the ease of the gentlest of breezes, and without harming what it’s actually taped to. It’s like having a girlfriend who just dumped you, and yet ... she still holds a warm place in your heart. The separation is one of peace.
2. You Can’t Hide You’re Lying Ties -- Bongo Ties
Another doozy here, listen closely. No, it’s not just a rubber band. Don’t be naive. Does a rubber band have a little piece of bamboo attached to it to help secure whatever it is you’re banding even more thoroughly? The answer is a resounding no. The Bamboo Factor makes the bongo tie virtually unstoppable -- it’s like the Genghis Khan of holding things together, without the fathering of hundreds of children throughout the Asian continent. In fact, a recent study states that police will soon be using them in the stead of handcuffs to corral criminals. You’re welcome law enforcement.
3. Can You C-47 What I C-47? -- C-47s
C-47s are beyond difficult to explain, but I’ll do what I can. The process behind their creation is an elaborate one; two small pieces of wood, fashioned together with a piece of piece metal which, upon said fashioning, creates a tautness which makes the device into a fastener of sorts. A more run of the mill, milquetoast use of a C-47 could be on a clothesline maybe to hold up your clothes while they dry. Well, maybe more pin than hold. A pin for clothes, used to fasten lighting gels and whatever else you may need to if gaff tape proves to be beyond your practical grasp. Our apologies for how difficult that may have been to understand; as we noted earlier, these are some truly confounding concepts we’re dealing with.
4. Let’s Get it Tarted -- Pop-Tarts
Sure, there are a legion of snack foods that one could utilize on the set of a shoot for what us professionals refer to as “crafty.” You could always go the “healthy” route, or what The Man likes to portray as being healthy, such as fruit or granola. But imagine if the best elements of the fruit, dairy, and grain food groups could be combined into one snack. Such an idea may seem to tear the very fabric of reality, to demolish what any of us thought to be possible in this world. Yet, somehow, it exists, the form of the one, the only, the Pop-Tart. Strawberry, Blue Raspberry, S’mores, Brown Sugar Cinnamon, Peanut Butter and Jelly, frosted or unfrosted, toasted or untoasted; the flavors and alterations of Pop-Tarts and their unimaginable nutritional properties make it the proverbial Messiah of snackdom during production.
5. Do You Have to, Do You Have to Let It Stinger? -- Stingers
We talked a little bit about the film “Citizen Kane” earlier, Orson Welles’ 1941 masterpiece which is deemed by many to be one of, if not the, greatest film of all time. Many people don’t know, however, that a sequel was in the works, “Citizen Abel,” with a script and concept rumored to make it even better than the first. Unfortunately, production was derailed by the fact that lighting was needed on one end of the set, but an electrical outlet was on the complete opposite side of the set. Shackled by the limits of his equipment, the project was never finished, and the weight of this failure haunted Welles for the rest of his life.
If only Welles had a stinger. Or, as referred to by the common folk, an extension cord. With it, the technological glory that is electricity knows no bounds, and can be harnessed with the power of a veritable sorcerer.
6. The Croixs Are Back in Town -- La Croix
Yes, Gatorade is the thirst quencher, packed to the brim with enough electrolytes to combat even a Category Five Hangover. Yes, coffee keeps you awake and spry, but at the cost of a pearly white smile and the casual erosion of your height being respectable -- I’m told it stunts your growth. Of course everybody wants to rant and rave about the “qualities” of water, but at this point water is to the production world as Tom Brady is to the NFL; we know it’s good, but we are tired of hearing about it. It’s time to take water up a notch -- let’s make it sparkle. Enter La Croix, the item most likely for millennials to become addicted to that isn’t going to get them thrown in jail. Its positive properties? Unknown. Its negative properties? Unknown. Its ingredients may as well be in hieroglyphics; La Croix is seemingly composed of nothing. But what’s more refreshing than a bit of mystery?
7. Dumm’s The Word -- Dummy Checks
Another extremely dense bit of production jargon here, stay with me here. A dummy check is the routine of accomplishing a task and then, after completing said task, making sure yet again that it is completed correctly. It’s checking, but for the second time. It’s almost like doubling the amount of checking you do. A double check, I suppose you could call it. A radical concept, to be sure, but this piece of abstract equipment is pivotal in creating a quality shoot. While the double or dummy check is used almost exclusively in production, it’s the hope of many that knowledge of the existence of the double check will spread very soon, spearheaded by an awareness campaign by State Farm.
8. P.A. to Z -- Production Assistants
No production, or any project, really, is complete without having somebody at the bottom rung to constantly berate, abuse, condescend to, mandate menial tasks to, and essentially have to clean the rear end of the project when things get messy. A walking, breathing, living target of catharsis, a Production Assistant is the Prometheus of a production set, with the demands of their superiors working as the murder of crows that routinely gouge out Prometheus’ eyes. But someone must be there to serve as the sycophantic ying to the yang that is the unmatched power of the director, assistant directors, videographers, gaffers, and grips on a production set. At the bottom of the tallest and most majestic of skyscrapers rests the first brick that set the foundations for the whole monument; without it, the skyscraper could not be. So is the existence of the Production Assistant, and such is the life of a silent hero, as someone must bear the weight of the world on their shoulders.
So there we are ladies and gentlemen, the eight pieces of both literal and figurative equipment that we in production are so very thankful for, and simply can’t live without. Again, we apologize if we were vague; entire textbooks have been written on this subject matter, and the nature of some of these items are still unclear. Feel free to do a little research on your own time, perhaps a braver soul than I could tackle it with more concise analysis. However, if you were somehow able to tolerate it, check out our other blogs on our website. Thanks again for reading, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!