On the Fly with DoPchoice China Ball and Pancake

"The China Ball is my go-to for walk and talk when the light moves along with the camera"

Bob Gilles is a master of the moving camera. He eats, sleeps, and breathes Steadicam, Helix and any camera movement tool. Whether engaged as the Specialty Camera Operator or the cinematographer, he does it with moving camera sensibility. So when he lights, he wants the fixtures to be just as mobile as he is. Enter the BB&S Flyer, the light that’s pole or C-stand mounted and operated off of a waist belt. It goes on every shoot he’s working and along with it he counts on DoPchoice accessories to shape the light.

A self-professed control freak, Gilles harness the light precisely were he wants it to go, whether it’s hard, soft, patterned or diffused. “I use the heck out of the DoPchoice light modifiers, from the China Balls to the Pancakes, fully-skirted and I add flags, black tape—whatever it takes to get it right.”

Gilles depends on the Flyer with the China Ball for his Steadicam moves while operating. “The China Ball is my go-to for walk and talk when the light moves along with the camera. It takes just a few minutes for he and his gaffer pace out their route together to synchronize light and movement regardless what twists and turns the script demands. “You want the light to move but not light everything—so you have to control the illumination.” So if I am running, the China Ball stays on because it’s more forgiving. If you put it to the side of a woman’s face it wraps the light beautifully.” But when a move is more exacting, he goes with the Pancake, which he explains “is more controlled, its as precise as you can be.”

When DP-ing, his high-octane technique consists of a run-through to perfect his set- ups as he maps his way through a shot—using the Flyer and China Ball or Pancake. “As a Steadicam operator I use it because it can travel, but when I work as cinematographer I use in every scene to setup with the gaffers. Typically I come in with a pancake and skinny black flags. I will handhold them and decide about the light coming in. Once I see the light I want, we plant another fixture on a stand and shape the light with the skirts to become a fast practical fill. Then we move to the next spot.

“My China Ball on a stick is the professionally engineered solution that saves time on every job.”

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"an essential part of my lighting toolkit"


I’ve been using DoPchoice SNAPGRIDS® both for 4’x4’ Frostframes and Kino Flo’s since I was first introduced to them in 2011 by Nick Shapley of LCA in London.

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