When I started the 5-week Marines commercial spot two months ago, I knew we would be in wide open spaces as well as tight quarters on the Amphibious Assault Destroyer. The project required gear that was versatile, so I turned to Kessler Crane’s CineSlider. NAB was where I first saw this baby in action. It was smooth, lightweight, and quiet but beefy enough to take an ARRI III.
Kessler Crane CineSlider at Sea
The first place we used the Kessler Crane CineSlider was on the Assault Destroyer in the middle of the Atlantic. I was positioned up on the Crow’s nest of the ship and did a very subtle move from left to right as a C-22 Osprey lifted off and banked right.
I had the railings in the foreground and I looked down the whole flight deck to what would have been a beautiful lock-off shot, yet this small 3’ move gave it a big screen cinematic feel.
CineSlider Performance in Action
From there we moved to Washington D.C. To shoot the Iwo Jima memorial at Sunrise. I positioned the CineSlider high up on the bank under the trees to get that classic stack. Iwo Jima Memorial, Washington Monument, and the Capital are in the background. Again, we did a subtle move from left to right. The shot revealed the memorial from behind a tree that was in the foreground. And as we drifted across on a Kowa 100mm on the 5D the sun blasted the lens and flared us out. When I saw this happen I knew this would be the out of the spot. Perfect.
I love the feeling of being one with the camera and moving it by hand. I don’t use the crank handle that also moves the camera left or right. Elite team member Dave Knudson rigged up the CineSlider so that I could mount it on a Sachtler head for ease of tilting and panning. He then tapped out the center sled to accept our Hurlbut Visuals base plate so that we could quickly convert different cameras to the CineSlider.
Next, to the Subway station. I set up a 30’ dolly track on the mezzanine level of the China Town station. While they were building that we went down to the subway platform to grab a shot of a businessman on his way to work. We had to stay very small for us to be able to shoot at this location to begin with. So one set of sticks and the CineSlider and we were able to move across a background extra as she crossed and dragged the camera into a close-up of our businessman as the train entered the station. The light flashing and dancing on his face was spectacular.
We used the CineSlider again at the Parris Island location in South Carolina. The dolly shot was set up in the trees. I needed to be able to go from one setup to the next because we had a very limited window of light. So, I wanted a move on the two Marines in their dress blues holding the flag. As the flag was raised up the flag pole, I slid across the flag unfurling in the foreground to reveal the two Marines. This worked so well that we wrapped that setup and were able to move right over to the dolly shot in leapfrog fashion.
The Bottom Line
I am writing this while on a plane to Cancun with the Kessler CineSlider in my overhead bin space. The Elite Team and I are going to shoot a travel and tourism spot in Mexico with director Rob Lawe. The spot involves tight bathrooms and unique angles at spas where we will need to sneak under waterfalls to capture a couples massage, and beneath sink plumbing to capture the romantic setting of an indoor-outdoor shower at Secrets resort. Sliding over candles, a tub full of bubbles, and a beautiful couple enjoying a refreshing shower. The CineSlider will be invaluable to us on this project.
A simple move can change the scope of a shot, the mood, and accent an actor’s performance. It can bring about intimacy with a slight push-in, reveal actors or plot points, punctuate a dramatic moment, or close a scene with a drift backward. You name it, a camera move used at the right moment changes the shot from something ordinary to extraordinary. What do you use to move your camera? I would love to hear your thoughts.
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About Filmmakers Academy Cinematographer Mentor Shane Hurlbut, ASC
Director of photography Shane Hurlbut, ASC works at the forefront of cinema. He’s a storyteller, innovator, and discerning collaborator, who brings more than three decades of experience to his art. He is a member of the American Society of Cinematographers, the International Cinematographers Guild/Local 600, and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Hurlbut frequently joins forces with great directors: McG’s Netflix Rim of the World and The Babysitter, plus Warner Bros. We Are Marshall and Terminator: Salvation; Scott Waugh’s Need for Speed and Act of Valor; and Gabriele Muccino’s There Is No Place Like Home and Fathers and Daughters. His additional film credits include Semi-Pro; The Greatest Game Ever Played; Into the Blue; Mr 3000; Drumline; 11:14, which earned Hurlbut a DVDX nomination; and The Skulls. Notably, his television credits include the first season of AMC’s Into the Badlands.