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Unsung Heroes: 24 Camera Department

"Unsung Heroes: 24 Camera Department" is a special feature found on the Season Five DVD.

The feature begins with Rodney Charters, director of photography, explaining about his day to day work on the set of 24, as well as his role of leading the camera department. The camera operators are then shown: Guy Skinner, A Camera operator; Jay Herron, B Camera operator; Jon Sharpe, A Camera focus puller; Bruce DeAragon, 1st assistant B camera; Eric Dyson, 2nd assistant camera operator; Eric Guerin, 2nd assistant A camera; Eric Guthrie, loader.

A scene shot at CTU on February 6, 2006 is shown, from Camera A, Camera B and a DVD camera showing the filming of the scene. Whilst this occurs Charters explains that 24 strives to film the show as if it was an observer watching an unfolding scene in a documentary-style. He expresses happiness that 24 shoots on Kodak film, rather than being digital. He complements Guy Skinner on the A camera for working so well with handheld. He says that Jay Herron stay with a longer lens on a dolly picking off addition material.

Jay Herron says that it is good to use two camera in the way 24 does as it means that things can move a lot faster and multiple takes often are less common. Carlos Boiles, the A camera dolly grip, explains his job. Zoli "Sid" Hajou, the B dolly grip says that his main role is to push the camera around and make sure that the actors are not blocked by objects. Jon Cassar is shown telling the camera operators where to position. Randy Chanofsky, a visiting 1st assistant A camera operator (temporarily replacing Jon Sharpe) explains that he has to make sure the image is constantly in focus. Guy Skinner says that he feels that Chanofsky has a harder job than him as he has more responsibility, and complements him for his good work. Herron says that he enjoys Cassar's way of filming, which allows editors freedom of different shots and angles.


Filming a scene in a car using Poor Man's Process

The "Poor Man's Process", the filming technique used to film scenes such as interiors of cars, is shown, during a supposed nighttime scene. Large plates with video clips of the streets of Los Angeles are played all around the car, which remains stationary throughout, and the illusion of the car moving is creating through camera techniques and lighting tricks. Guy Skinner talks about the different kinds of cars that are used in different scenes, and the difficulty that arises with trying to fit into a smaller car. Herron complements the process, saying that it is easier and more shots are able to be achieved than if camera dollys were attached to real moving cars. Charters explains that with some vehicles the doors have to be removed so that cameras can get inside. Filming a scene for "Day 5: 11:00pm-12:00am" using the Process is shown.

The scene cuts to a warehouse, AES Rodondo Beach, a power facility, where the Wilshire Gas Company scene takes place in "Day 5: 9:00pm-10:00pm." Jon Cassar, the director of the scene, is shown, and talks about the upcoming scene. Charters is also at the scene and fills in minor details about what will be shot. He shows a small chair with wheels which Guy Skinner will use as, what Charters calls, a "handheld dolly", so he can scoot around to film the scene, in contast to Jay Herron's large, real dolly. He shows a camera and talks about the film that is in it, and the high production costs of such a camera. Carlos Boiles, the A camera dolly grip, shows a mask worn by Guy Skinner during intense action scenes to protect his face. He explains that Skinner also has a full body suit so he does not get hurt. Skinner says that he enjoys handheld more than any other style of camera work as he feels more intimate with the actors and the story. A scene showing DOP Charters, director Cassar and Script supervisor Anne Melville is shown, with camera angles from Skinner and Herron also visible. Whilst preparation takes place for a second take, Eric Dyson explains the importance of checking the camera in between each take for fibres which could cloud the lens. Charts comments that because of the small amounts of time there is to do everything, you have to work with a team you really trust so that everything goes according to plan.

As the scene begins to progress, times moves on and begins to become a factor. Charters explains that the explosion that occurs at the end of the scene has to be filmed before 10:00pm, which is when they have the fire department for, and whether they have the interior shots completed or not they have to be outside for then. Richard Rosser, the first assistant director, arrives and talks about timing with Cassar. Cassar then says that the pace needs to be picked up if they want to leave in time. As Cassar continues the director, Charters talks about lighting, saying that often they do not go out of their way to light a scene differently that it simply appears in the environment.


Preparations begin for the nighttime shoot

The crew move to where the explosion will occur later in the night. Whilst they set up, Herron talks about the difficult conditions that arise because of location shooting; uneven surfaces, weather conditions, lighting arrangements. A test of the explosion takes place around three hours before the crew have to vacate the location. Filming then occurs of the scene where Jack Bauer and Vladimir Bierko wrestle outside the police car.

Eric Guerin, the 2nd assistant A camera, demonstrates the Eyemo, a CrashCamera, used for one of the large explosions on the set. It is a small, 35mm camera that is placed into a safe Crash Box that is "impenetrable to any force known to man". He says that it protects the lens and the film, allowing unbelievable shots that could not be achieved with a camera operator. He says that it has just over a seven foot load, which is one minute of film (most cameras have a 1000 foot load), so if there is a false start he would have to go in and reset the film. With just over an hour to go before they have to complete the explosion, Cassar begins to knuckle down in terms of tightening up the filming sequences. Stan Blackwell, the effects supervisor on the show, describes his role in the production of the explosions and demonstrates how they will work. He comments that, even for 24, it is a big explosion, and will be a lot of fun.

With fifty minutes left, the crew finally settle down to shoot. The final part of the scene by the police car is filmed, with Jack and Bierko wrestling to an explosion in the background. As Cassar calls "cut", cheers erupt from the crew. Guerin preparees the Eyemo camera for the final shot. Eric Dyson explains more about his role as final preparations take place, saying that he has to make sure all actors are stood in the correct places for certain shots, a job he uses different colours of tape to conduct. He also has to clap the slate before all shots take place. He says that when film first began this ensured that the sound and the picture matched up together, but now there is a timecode number that does this. Jon Sharpe then demonstrates the Panatape, which measures how far the action is from the camera, but says it often takes him out of the moment so switches it off to manually focus the camera. Gene Draper, the film liaison for AES Redondo Beach, then talks about the safety aspects of the explosions.


The shot from the Eyemo camera

The Eyemo camera is positioned inside the police car in a position that should see the whole of the explosion in very close confinement. Skinner says that he has been with 24 for longer than he has ever been with a show or movie. Herron says that he ends up spending more time with the crew than his family, so it works well that they get on so well. The explosion finally occurs, with dramatically fantastic conclusions. Both the A and B camera get incredible shots showing the explosion that nearly engulfs the police car, but the Eyemo camera gets the best shot with a powerful image incredibly close to the camera. Cassar finally calls "cut" after several moments of watching the dust fall, and the cast and crew move back inside to finish the interior shots.

Background information and notesEdit

  • The episode mislabels Episode 17 of Day 5 as "11:00pm-12:00pm", instead of "11:00pm-12:00am" (11 minutes 19 seconds).

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