Director of Photography Donald A. Morgan, ASC, and actor/producer Tim Allen have come together once again for the new hit multi-camera series Last Man Standing. For the new comedy, Morgan has chosen Vector 70 heads and Fulmar pedestals from Vinten, part of Vitec Videocom, a Vitec Group company.
“Tim wanted a very different kind of look this time than on the hit we did together before, Home Improvement,’ Morgan explains. “The story is set in Colorado. Tim plays Mike Baxter, the marketing director for an iconic outdoor sporting goods store. His wife has decided to go back to her career, so he finds himself struggling to keep his manliness at home, surrounded by his three daughters and grandchild.
“It makes for a lot of comedic situations where director John Pasquin really pushes the envelope, and where Vinten is an invaluable tool whether we are in the spacious up-scale Baxter home or outside on one of Mike’s adventures,’ explains Morgan.
To capture the movement, Morgan works with a four-camera set up including two pedestals (A-camera and X-camera), one dolly and a jib. The series started on the Genesis. “This is the first time we have used the Genesis camera on peds,’ explains Morgan. “The Genesis/Vinten pairing went extremely well.’
However, during the 15th show, production decided to switch to Sony F23s in the same combination. “A more familiar pairing with Vinten,’ Morgan adds.
He explains: “John really makes the shots interesting, challenging our operators to the max. He’ll often want a push up stage for a close-up and then a fast pull down stage. That means the guys have to be as versatile as possible. Ordinarily, you’d think that would be a dolly move, which requires three people to execute a shot. Not here. Vinten’s reliability allows a good operator to execute this difficult one-person move precisely and smoothly.
“When the show goes on location following Mike’s adventures and mis-adventures, A-camera and X-camera Vinten heads go with us – on dollies. That set-up works really nice in the field.
“Multi-camera comedy is always a challenge. It’s usually four cameras, often fighting for position on a stage and in front of a live audience. There is no time for equipment failure or retakes because camera choreography isn’t working,’ says Morgan. “That’s not a problem when my guys are on Vinten equipment. My relationship with Vinten goes way back past Home Improvement. If it’s a ped show – that ped and head comes from Vinten. Vinten is top-of-the-line support and I’ve come to rely on their precision and accuracy no matter how our directors challenge my camera department to pull in sometimes-difficult situations. I can’t conceive of doing a show without Vinten there for me and my crew.’
Eight-time Emmy Award-winning Director of Photography, Donald M. Morgan ASC, has relied on Vinten for all of his multi-camera shows including: Home Improvement, Rita Rocks, Hot in Cleveland and now Last Man Standing. Vinten supports him on the many pilots he shoots each year as well. In the next few weeks, he will shoot one with Reba McIntyre and of course the cameras will be on Vinten heads and peds.