perspectives. What’s new is that the rig uses a
radio-control transmitter/receiver and two servomotors to control the position of the camera and
snap the pictures remotely.
Richard Hudson is in charge on the set as the
show’s executive producer. Knowing he has the
crew until 7:00 tonight, he wants to get a few pages
into the script for this project and then finish it
tomorrow. He’s providing the momentum, but
things move slowly. He grabs the script and looks
at Bill. “We have to explain servomotors without a
lot of jargon,” he says.
Bill thinks for a second and says: “When you turn
on a regular motor, it runs. A servomotor moves
a specific distance.” Bill turns the switch, causing
the servo to move.
The script, which Bill wrote, is now labeled revision 11. To Bill, the changes seem endless, and
needless. To Richard, they are a series of ever more
precise refinements that aim to use as few words as
possible to accompany a series of actions demonstrated in front of the camera.
“That’s perfect,” Richard says.
“Where’s John?” someone on the set asks, and
another person answers mockingly: “He’s in his
trailer.” He’s actually in a small room nearby changing his shirt.
John Park is the host of the Maker Workshop and
at 17: 56 he walks in, ready to go. The Pole Cam is
his second workshop segment of the day. Earlier,
he built the Burrito Blaster, a variation of the potato
cannon featured in MAKE, Volume 03. John, who
works in Burbank, Calif., at Walt Disney Animation
Studios, came in on Friday night. All day Saturday
was spent rehearsing the four projects they will
shoot Sunday through Tuesday.
Six people huddle around John and they talk
about the sequence of the build. Richard brings
up the idea of explaining servomotors. “Oh,” John
replies, “a servomotor has a feedback loop using
pulse width modulation ...”
Richard interrupts him and the entire group
starts laughing. “Simpler,” says Richard.
Bill chimes in with his definition and John tries it
out in his own words. “A regular motor spins when
you turn it on; a servomotor moves a certain distance.” He practices another line: “On our rig, the
servos allow us remotely to tilt the camera up and
down, as well as push the shutter button down.”
The script has about 18 separate scenes for this
The Maker Workshop
is like demonstrating a
recipe on a cooking show,
but the ingredients and
the process are more
build. The goal is to get one or two scenes done
before breaking for the night. Once the lights are
arranged on the set, Greg Stiever, the director, places
the two cameramen. Camera A is the focus for John
when he speaks, while Camera B closes in on what
John is doing. Vern Norwood, the sound guy, asks
John to count to ten to test his mic. John gets to four
when Vern interrupts him: “Brilliant. Most people
don’t get that far.”
The first scene has John introducing the project.
He starts off with a yellow Mr. Longarm extension
pole in hand, then he’ll move to a workbench to
introduce the rig and the servomotors. He rehearses
the scene once but Richard doesn’t like something.
“There’s so little to look at. Put him on a stool next
to the grinder.”
“Grab your pole, John,” says the director, getting
everyone in position for the first take. “Action.”
“That’s awkward,” says Michael Smith, the series
producer, watching the scene on the plasma. He
suggests a different way for John to hold the pole
so it doesn’t cross between him and the camera.
They start again.
This time John gets further but he’s stopped
short again. “How is he supposed to be holding the
motor?” Richard asks.
18: 41 and there’s a loud crash of glass. In another
part of the room, a fluorescent light tube fell from a
20-foot ceiling — inexplicably. The crew takes note,
but they keep things moving. “Action.”
There are five consecutive takes. Each time, John
amazingly dials in the same energy level and focus,
making any changes asked of him, and seldom
introducing anything new or different that might not
be wanted. It’s a lot harder than it seems. John’s
tired but it doesn’t show.
“Mark it. That’s good,” says Greg after one more
take, but then he adds: “Let’s do it once more.”
At 18: 50, Richard says, “Wrap. We’re done.” The
next day we’re going to the zoo.