Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Ben Kilminster, the young hipster physicist in the Fermilab rock band, agreed to let us shoot him as he rollerbladed around the ring. This was not on the inside of the ring, of course, because that's a cramped hallway (currently filled with lethal radiation since the accelerator is in operation) but rather above, on the one-lane service road that runs above the accelerator tunnel. We engaged some high-tech filmmaking wizardry: to get the shot, I brought along my bike and we gaff-taped a tripod to my bike cross bar so that it floated above my back tire. For good measure, we used nearly a quarter roll of gaff-tape, and the result was an ugly black misshapen ball with a lens poking out. But it was solid, by god.

I hopped on the bike and started pedaling, and overtook Ben. I wanted to get the shot of the movement around the ring first, and then Ben drifting into the frame. We set the iris a little too wide and I'm afraid the first pass was a bit washed out. The sky lost it's color and became white. On the second pass, coming back, I just turned the auto-iris back on and it looks better.

While he was rollerblading, puffing for breath, I asked him a couple of questions. He said once when he was stuck and needed to come up with a new way of looking at things, he came out and rollerbladed backwards. Another nice comment came when he said he needed to get out of the lab and look at some big things for a change, things that were far away. It's true, I would imagine: looking at things at the sub-atomic level might make you want to get next to a giant pine tree (or a 1000-pound buffalo). And, of course, the idea that this guy watches protons and anti-protons as they race around the ring then takes a break and gets inspiration by ... racing around the ring ... is a nice one.

Along those lines, I took Stef up to the 15th floor of the hi-rise and got a shot of Ben skating from 150 feet up. We used cell phones to communicate --- I told him "go!" and he started skating. Stef was in a tight shot and did a beautiful zoom-out/tilt to follow him and reveal the huge size of the 4-mile circumference ring. Later Ben joked that we should speed up the image to make it look like he was travelling at the speed of light. "I'll hold a torch," he said. "I'll be the proton." Luke said I could be the anti-proton on my bike, holding a torch coming the other way. The problem is, of course, that we'd have to crash, and our production insurance wouldn't cover that.

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