Most of you have heard the phrase, "Work smarter, not harder". It makes sense and can improve your life if you embrace it. Think of the early farmers during the industrial revolution, they were manually picking, planting, and harvesting. The smart ones designed tractors and impliments to drastically reduce the human work and get even more yield per season on top of that. Knowledge pays both cold hard cash and time. I won't speak for you, but I love my free time.
In the prodution world, you get hired based on your repuation. That reputation is hard earned and is worth protecting. So, what reputation to you want? My list starts and ends with RELIABLE. When someone from production starts calling for crew - the most basic assumption is that they have the technical skills to do the job. A grip can make shadows, an electrician can make light, and AC's can guess distances. There are some crew that seem to glide trhough the day and no problems ever come up and others that seem to invite problems. From a production perspective, the ones that glide through the day are way more likely to get the first call on the next big job. Why do they glide through the day? It's because they know the job so well that they anticipate problems long before they are even a problem. They are never seen solving problems becuase they are so good at avoiding them in the first place.
The camera department has and continues to change far faster than any other area in production. This is making it harder and harder to anticipate issues far enough in advance to avoid it. Software, firmware, ultra-high speed connections, cables, wires, adapters. Nuts. Some problems are intermittant and the casues are not obvious. How do you avoid the new problems found in modern cinematography? Get smarter. You have to self-educate all around to develop an intuition about how things work. It is NOT good enough that something doen't work and you simply put some red tape on it, mark it BO, and send it back to the rental house. You should have an idea of what led up to that, how it could have been avoided, and what it will take to actually fix the problem.
Monitor fails. AC gets frustrated and has production scramble for another one. Rental house gets the display with the usual red tape marked 'B/'O' so they have no idea what is wrong. It could be a scratch, bad input, or whatever. A new monitor arrives and it blows up immeadiately. Again, AC is now angry becuase the stupid rental house is sending out crap. Assholes.
The power cable was plugged into a breakout box that was recently repaired. The polarity was reversed on the only connector that was not checked in the prep. The reverse polarity blew the monitor and all monitors that would follow.
It's a situation that careful checking and an intuitive understanding of what can go wrong would have avoided this before anyone ever knew about it. I don't want to be the guy that figures out what went wrong, I want to be the one that avoids that problem in the first place.
To do my part, I am developing a small course on the mysteries of electricity on set. It is called 'Electricity for Big Hollywood Movie Cameras'. The goal is to to fill in some critical information about how power and signals are generated and moved around a digital cinema camera system. What can go wrong. How to detect it. How to fix the common problems. Stay tuned and ask questions. If you want to get in on the first presentations (yes, it's free) put your name on the email list. You can sign up on our contact page - CLICK HERE.