Are you dreaming of being in the Electrics Department? Or maybe you already are but want to add to your existing knowledge so that you can rise through the ranks quicker. In either case, here are 10 useful tips for electrics! If you also double as a grip, I would recommend checking our our 12 Tips for Grips article!
Lights are bright. Some lights are even blinding. As an electric, it’s important for you to be courteous to other crew members when turning on your lights. Calling out “Sparking, watch your eyes” or “striking” isn’t always necessary. When striking smaller lights you can usually get away with turning them on without saying a word if no one is around. Often times calling out that you are turning a light on will just draw more attention to it or cause people to look at the light. Use your judgement and call things out as necessary. Typically, if the light is bright and facing many of your fellow crew members it’s a good idea to call it out, wait a couple beats, then turn it on.
2. Orientating Lights
If you are called upon to pan, raise, or tilt a light, make sure to communicate what you are doing as you are doing it. If you arrive at the fixture and have to do some minor things before doing what was asked of you, be sure to let the DOP or Gaffer know. It is as simple as saying “sorry, stand by please”, this lets people know you are not quite ready to do what was asked of you and need a moment to prepare.
3. Spotting Lamps
It’s always a good idea to spot lamps before turning them on. When you spot a lighting fixture, it puts the bulb at the rear of the lamp, away from the fresnel. There are a couple reasons why this is good:
- Turning a light will cause a sudden change in temperature. Having the bulb at the back, far away from the fresnel, will not cause a cold fresnel to crack.
- You will already be prepped for setting the final position of the lamp. Having it in the spotting position makes it easier to aim
4. Extra Cable
Always leave some cable bundled at the base of a light, you never know if you’ll need to move it again. 10 – 20 feet should be fine. If you’re moving it anymore than that it will be reasonable if you didn’t have enough spare line.
5. Wrapping Cable
AC is wrapped clockwise, never wrapped in the over-under fashion. This style is reserved only for BNC. If you’re unsure what BNC is, it is a cable that can send video to whatever device it’s plugged into, such as a monitor at video village. It plugs into a SDI port.
When plugging in sea-way never sit or drop your knee. Feet are to be planted at all times.
7. HMI Setup
It’s always useful to plug in the head cable to your HMI first before working your way back to the ballast. Saving power to the ballast for last. Always make sure the main breaker in the ballast is off before plugging it in.
8. Helping Out Sound
Remember when I mentioned being courteous earlier? Here’s another way you can be nice to your fellow crew members, specifically the Sound Department. Ballasts can make noise, it will make the sound guys very happy if you keep the ballast as far away from the scene as possible, preferably in another room. Try to do this before the sound guy asks you to move it or it ruins/delays a take.
9. Cable Organization
While you should be organized in any department you’re a part of, electrics is no different. When it comes to cables, always keep them in separate piles based on length. 50’s with 50’s, 25’s with 25’s, etc.
10. Video Village
On some sets video village will be moving around all the time, and about 99% of the time, the village will need to be powered by AC. The lowest level electric should provide power where ever it ends up, if that’s you, don’t wait for someone to ask. You may also work something out with the 2nd AC, trainee, or who ever is in charge. That’s something you’ll have to decide amongst yourselves.
Do You Have Any Tips For Electrics?
Let us know in the comments below!