For most of us, no matter how much fancy kit we buy, no matter how good we think we’ve got it, something comes along that just makes us feel totally inadequate. The iconic dolly crane from Saturday Night live is such a thing. And it makes the cranes that most of us might use in our own productions look like toys.
The Chapman Electra Crane has been used on SNL for so long that it’s practically one of the cast, providing a big chunk of the show’s “personality” through its consistent use in the SNL studio over the past several decades. Originally added by the original director Dave Wilson, to help emphasise the live atmosphere of the show.
It needs to be able to do dolly moves, trucking moves, high and low shots, and the Chapman Electra can do them all with relative ease. At least for skilled operators. The Electra requires a small dedicated crew to use, including a driver, somebody to control the arm, somebody to sit at the top and control the camera, along with other assistants.
It’s a lot of work, and it all has to be done to a strict schedule while bouncing from set to set, dodging the live studio audience, the rest of the crew, as well as the talent who will be appearing on-camera.
The video is a fascinating peek behind the curtain to see the crane in action, as well as some of the production schedule of a show like SNL, with rehearsals and tests, and how they make those regular classic camera moves the show’s famous for.
[via No Film School]