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Chris Probst ASC chooses Max Menace Arm

May 22, 2023

Being a perfectionist pays off for Christopher Probst ASC. A prominent name in music video production, he works with artists like Taylor Swift, Eminem, Ariana Grande, Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z and Billie Eilish, and lenses spots for Apple, Nike, Google, BMW, Samsung, Audi, Adidas and Uber. He’s also credited with creating the show’s look in David Fincher’s Mindhunter for which he was nominated for an ASC Cinematography Award. In his spare time, he co-authored The Cine Lens Manual, an 840-page opus to the history, design and usage of motion picture optics. Throughout his diverse filmography, Probst appreciates tools that efficiently help deliver an image. “I’ve been using the Max Menace for over 15 years now – on virtually every project,” he says. 

Probst on “Ace Up the Sleeve”

Cinematography has taken Probst around the world, and it isn’t uncommon for him to work on projects set in particularly delicate or touchy locations. “Imagine you go into a sensitive location like a mansion or a historic building. You can’t rig anything onto walls; no wall spreaders or screwing stuff into the structure when it’s a protected building. So how then are you going to get the light up in that corner?” For Probst it’s a no-brainer. “I just crank the Max Menace Arm up, wheel it into position, and now I’ve got 20 feet of reach to work with.”

Made by Matthews Studio Equipment (www.msegrip.com), Max Menace is a familiar sight on any Probst set. Naturally, for the An Ace Up the Sleeve short showcasing the new ARRI Orbiter Light, he pulled out all the stops. To help debut the new LED luminaire, the cinematographer demonstrated its versatility by recreating an old western saloon scene. “Light is always a huge part of that expressiveness. Colour contrast, atmosphere, flare, changes in light—these are the tools of the trade. And a unit I can use to quickly mould those elements on the set is a valuable tool indeed.” The location had high ceilings, but with the Max Menace Arm, the Orbiter was swiftly lofted into position over the card table where the central conflict plays out.

For Jackson Wang’s Cruel music video, the Max Menace can be spotted behind the scenes, arming in Chimara-softened Arri Skypanels safely over the dancers. “I have recently found the Max Menace especially useful for virtual production jobs on LED volume stages, where I often need to place a light into tricky areas, but don’t have the time to yank a panel and put a backlight in,” he explains. The dancers make dynamic use of the stage, so the ability to back the stand against the LED wall and out of the way was invaluable. “It’s a perfect tool to get a backlight in quick because you have all this sort of reach without a cumbersome stand, mast, and counterbalance.”

Two Max Menaces on set for “Cruel”

With his creative lighting moves, often one Max is not enough. “I like to bring two or even three Max Menace Arms on virtual productions because we need to move very quickly. I could put a 100-pound light on a Max Menace Arm and crank it up or down myself without any help, and I can put a light 20 feet out, with no fulcrum/counterbalance, right up against the wall. That, for me, is a game changer.” 

Read Chris Probst interview at: https://bit.ly/ProbstMAX 

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