Magazine article American Cinematographer

Introducing the Louma Crane

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Introducing the Louma Crane

Article excerpt

An ingenious "sky-hook" that permits the director to hang a remotely-controlled camera anywhere he wants it-and then move it around-may well make possible a whole new way of filmmaking

The diminution in size and weight of all the principal items of motion picture camera lighting and sound recording equipment which has taken place in the last few years has made it possible for directors to think anew in the way they interpret a script. The introduction of the compact studio camera which may be hand-held while shooting dialogue scenes, and the invention of the floating camera systems which make it possible for a camera to move above uneven surfaces with freedom from bumps and disturbance have given those who visualise scenes new opportunities. The modern film-maker is almost completely rid of the fetters which bound our predecessors.

One of the last remaining truly capital items of equipment still in regular use is the giant camera boom or crane. Sometimes weighing in at 10 tons, often mounted on a 6-wheel chassis, 25 feet long and 8 feet wide and cumbersome to maneuver unless there is plenty of space and solid footings, it is an anachronism in our current film-making society.

The compact size, low profile and lightweight nature of modern feature film cameras (such as the Panaflex), the replacement of truck-loads of sound recording equipment by the Nagra and radio microphones, the introduction of the HMI lamps, (four times as efficient as tungsten lamps and five times as efficient as carbon arcs), and the development of closed circuit television viewfinding systems as an aid to film making, are reducing the use of items of equipment which clog the easy flow of day-to-day production. It should not now be necessary to have a camera crane large and rugged enough to carry a bumped studio camera, the camera operator, the focus assistant, the director and one or two Brute are lamps all at one and the same time.

The idea of mounting a remotely controlled camera on the end of a slender boom arm with the operator, the focus assistant and the Director relocated to a more convenient place, yet with the same ability to aim the camera, control the lens aperture, focus and zoom functions and view the scene as though all were alongside, is in line with all other aspects of current progress in film-making techniques.

From France, with certain significant contributions from Britain, comes the LOUMA fully modular camera crane or boom arm, which carries a remotely controlled motion picture or television camera. Having worked on a number of pictures in Europe, most notably, SUPERMAN, the new James Bond picture (MOONRAKER) and Roman Polanski's THE TENANT, as well as many other features, commercials and T.V. shows, it has now completed a lengthy stint in Hollywood on Steven Spielberg's newest production, "1941". So already it has a distinguished track record.

The LOUMA Crane is able to pass through the narrowest doorway, go through a small window, up a circular staircase, shoot inside a submarine, hang over a cliff or the edge of a tall building, be taken up a mountain trail, be delivered in a small van or by helicopter-or even by mule train. It can move from mud to sand, pass from a sewer to a skylight, be mounted on a wagon or inside an aircraft or on the deck of a boat, where it may be able to look down on the top of the mast. With the LOUMA Crane one can put a camera where the eye of a man has never been before-and then move it around.

The length of the LOUMA Crane arm may be varied between 4 and 20 feet (1.20-6m) to suit the scene to be filmed or televised. With reinforcement stays it can reach out 25 feet (7.5Om), without any vibrations or floating effect at the end of the arm.

The boom arm is made up of individual duralumin sections which plug together. Each section is light enough in weight to be carried by one man. The entire ensemble is transported from location to location in lightweight aluminium cases. …

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