Jerry Andrews is Calling North America…
There are currently three MRMC Milo cranes based in the Eastern half of North America. Two of these are in Canada and the other is based in Atlanta, Georgia. While this large region is fertile ground for creative visual effects in feature films, broadcast television and music videos, recent economic and political events have created a ‘moving target’ in terms of where the bulk of production is likely to occur. The US dollar is weaker at present, and ‘tax credits’ for film production vary, and are regularly reviewed, in the States and Provinces of the USA and Canada.
This creates a challenge for the Milo operation at WF Whites in Toronto, Canada. With seven years of successful shooting behind it, and a dedicated operating team, it continues to serve local production demand, and boasts an impressive reel including work on ‘Chicago’ and ‘I Robot’, and a large number of ‘high end’ commercials and music videos. The team in Toronto have also worked in various other locations including Florida, Vancouver, and one long distance trip to New Zealand.
The team working under motion control cameraman Jerry Andrews believe they have to look further afield at present for work which in previous years has come directly to Toronto. They believe they have developed a highly efficient approach to location work, and can service a wide area of the Eastern USA and Canada, by road. The Milo system and all accessories travels in a purpose-designed trailer, and can offload the Milo with up to 54 feet of precision track directly into any studio or location with road or track access. The Toronto Milo boasts a ‘lifting frame’ system which allows the Milo to be moved quickly, with its track attached if necessary, around studio floors, streets, sidewalks, and other open ground.
A four-day, five-location shoot in 2004 in Pittsburgh, Pennysylvania epitomises the efficiency and adaptability of their operation, and they hope that the details released here will help to stimulate further interest from potential US clients.
Pittsburgh-based New Perspective Media (www.new-perspective.com ) contacted the Toronto Milo team when they decided to pitch a VFX concept for the 2004 Institutional Campaign of Pittsburgh University. This involved shooting multi-layered scenes in five different locations within the Pitt U. campus; three interiors and two exteriors, in four days of production. Producer Bill Medica and director Tom Schneider were reassured by the detailed pre-production discussions, setting achievable targets and resolving a number of VFX issues before the arrival of the team. The spot was shot in HD format using a Panasonic Varicam.
(Note you can also view the making of footage by clicking here: http://www.drivenvfx.com/html_pages/pitt.html )
The trip from Toronto to Pittsburgh, via Detroit, was an easy one day journey of under 400 miles. The Toronto crew were able to take the Milo system deep into the main halls of Pitt U, utilising beautiful shooting spaces in one of the smaller liberal arts rooms, a computing lab and also the gothic vaulted ‘commons room’. They negotiated glass doors, wood panelled stone flagged corridors and flights of stone steps, with smooth efficiency and without damage to either the unique interior or to the Milo crane system.
The second day of production involved a morning shoot in the commons room, and an afternoon shoot on an exterior scene below the University’s famous ‘Cathedral of Learning’ tower. This was a mix of live action with an actor and time-lapse background plates.The trip from Toronto to Pittsburgh, via Detroit, was an easy one day journey of under 400 miles. The Toronto crew were able to take the Milo system deep into the main halls of Pitt U, utilising beautiful shooting spaces in one of the smaller liberal arts rooms, a computing lab and also the gothic vaulted ‘commons room’. They negotiated glass doors, wood panelled stone flagged corridors and flights of stone steps, with smooth efficiency and without damage to either the unique interior or to the Milo crane system.
The final day of four involved a second exterior location, and a long arcing move created easily on straight track, filmed on a residential street. All shoot days were completed on the original schedule, and all the required elements for the composite scenes were delivered without compromise.
Cameraman Jerry Andrews feels that this was a very successful and cost effective venture for all concerned, and that there should be many similar opportunities to travel further afield to service a broadening production base across the Eastern half of North America.
To see the making of footage please click here: http://www.drivenvfx.com/html_pages/pitt.html
Jerry Andrews has been the Toronto Milo operator since 1998, and his extensive experience includes recent work on Chicago, I Robot, and UK productions Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. He operates on a freelance basis and is also a film lighting cameraman and visual effects supervisor.