On a recent film project, not only did I use my own personal TV, but I also used my own personal Comtek. Daily I brought this equipment to my stand-in job in order to have a better sense of what was being shot as well as to have a better sense of when I was needed on set.
In earlier articles in the Stand-In Central Tips & Tricks Blog, I wrote about the benefits of using your own personal TV as well as using your own personal receiver, known popularly as a Comtek. Individually, these items benefit the work of the stand-in. Used together, they provide even more benefit. In general, if you’re a serious stand-in with access to this equipment, it will change for the better how you work.
Usually when you’re on a set you are only privy to the images being filmed. No sound accompanies the images, so you’re often left guessing what is being said on set. Sometimes you’ll see the cast or crew laughing, perhaps because of a line flub. Other times you’ll see the cast or crew doing something unexpected but you can’t tell what. At these times, your interest in what is going on on set becomes understandably piqued. As a stand-in, you are at your best when you are informed about changes going on during a take involving your actor.
Using a Comtek while watching the monitor helps to fill you in better on what is going on on set. The real advantage of using a Comtek along with your personal TV is that you don’t have to be huddled around the few monitors provided to crew, and you don’t have to interfere with crew members who find their need to see the monitors more important than yours. With your own Comtek and personal TV, you can watch the shot from wherever you can get a signal.
As a result of seeing both the sound and the visuals, you get an intimate understanding of takes. You get to experience your actor’s performance, which can be valuable in the off chance you’re asked to repeat the performance off camera for another actor in a turnaround. You also get an education into how the actor interprets the scene, which can be very valuable information if you are also an actor and not just a stand-in.
I found that when I used a personal TV along with a Comtek, I had a harder time focusing on some kinds of details that I usually focus on when I’m standing in. In a sense, the audio distracted me a bit from watching the blocking changes my actor might be doing, because I would get sucked into the take much as I would get sucked into a television show, and I would forget to track the actor’s blocking during the take.
Also, having to care for two pieces of equipment can slow down one’s return to set, especially when you are needed immediately and when you need to put away your equipment.
However, these minuses are far overshadowed by the pluses in having the equipment. Having both pieces of equipment allows you to set up your own area near set to watch the take rather than have to fight from some other location to see what’s going on.
Have you tried using both a personal TV and a Comtek together when you worked as a stand-in? What was your experience like? Please share below!