A fluid ‘heads-up’

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In 2012 Australian DOP Adrian Cranage made two films back to back together with actor and director Til Schweiger. On both films Schutzengel and Kokowaah 2 Cranage used his OConnor 2575D fluid head.

“Without my well-coordinated team and OConnor, our projects would not have been possible,” says Cranage.

For the action film Schutzengel, Cranage shot digitally for the first time. “The days of being able to avoid a digital shoot are gone,” he explains. “In addition to two ARRI Alexas, we used a pair of Canon EOS 7Ds, GoPros, sinaCam, fingercams, a Phantom and a remote-control helicopter with a RED.”

Satisfied with the results on this film, Cranage and his team had the confidence to also film Kokowaah 2 digitally with ARRI Alexas. When the situation permitted, Cranage panned the A-camera himself on the OConnor 2575D.

In 1999, OConnor fluid heads were not the norm in Germany. Cranage first got to know them while working in Los Angeles. “I worked there as a focus puller,” he says. “It sounds funny, but back then I discovered OConnor because I wanted to mount my new Panavision Frontbox somewhere. I didn’t feel like running around with a belt holding all of my work tools anymore.”

So, Cranage saved up for his first OConnor fluid head and was quickly won over. He particularly liked the well-engineered pan-and-tilt damping as well as the easy balancing of the camera set-up, enabled by OConnor’s patented sinusoidal counterbalance system. That’s why it was so easy for Cranage, a young camera assistant then, to convince his good friend and cinematographer Holly Fink as to OConnor fluid heads’ qualities.

“Digital productions are perfect for Til Schweiger’s method of working,’ continues Cranage. “He films and wants all the material to be graded by the next day at the very latest. For Kokowaah 2, we worked with ARRI Webgate. All of the material was directly uploaded to a server. Everyone had access; everyone could make comments. Even the boss at Warner Brothers in Los Angeles was able to directly view the material.”

In spite of the success of both digital shoots, Cranage does not rule out a return to classic filmmaking.

“At the Camerimage Festival, many films were digital 16:9. And then, somewhere in between, I saw this beautiful small French film on film, Cafe de Flore; it completely enthralled me. Everything just worked. That’s why I cannot rule it out. But I would only do it if it really fit a story. Film is not yet dead.”

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