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Old November 20th, 2003, 12:03 AM   #1
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XL1S and Mini35 as used on Seinfeld AmEx spot

Howdy from Texas,

Our main man and favorite Steadicam operator Charles Papert contributes his shooting journal covering a recent American Express internet spot starring Jerry Seinfeld and directed by Barry Levinson. The Canon XL1S with P+S Technik Mini35 image converter was chosen for the production. Charles gives you extensive notes and many photos covering how the whole thing went down. See:

http://www.dvinfo.net/canon/articles/article84.php
http://www.dvinfo.net/canon/articles/article85.php
http://www.dvinfo.net/canon/images/images19.php
http://www.dvinfo.net/canon/images/images20.php

Enjoy -- and many thanks to Charles for sharing the story,
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Old November 20th, 2003, 12:29 AM   #2
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Wow

A fascinating project log. I'm beat just reading it! Now I'm very anxious to see the end product.

Thank you so much for documenting that effort so well for us, Charles. Excellent.
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Old November 20th, 2003, 01:59 AM   #3
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I hear you Ken. I picked up a cold on the second day in NYC, and haven't really shaken it yet. It was fun but exhausting as you guessed.

I think the end product will be trotted out sometime in February. There's sure to be a lot of promotion for it.
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Old November 20th, 2003, 02:28 AM   #4
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Fantastic read. Both inspiring and frightening.
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Old November 20th, 2003, 06:36 AM   #5
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Thank you Charles P.!
I had a great time reading the article!
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Old November 20th, 2003, 10:59 AM   #6
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Charles,

Thank you for such engaging and thorough coverage of your use of the Mini35. It is wonderful to see proof that the rig, and the xl1s for that matter, can stand up over a grueling shoot and be utilised by a film crew as if it were just another Arri and Aaton. Bonus points for using the Cookes ;)

A couple of distributors notes:

Otto's units are unique. They are not from the 2002 series, like TCS's, and represent an early stage of the technology. That is not to say that they are inferior, but they are not representative of what the rest of the rental houses are carrying, especially the after market frameline generator.

Ding Dong, the swirling vortex of hell has been abololished. The image screen of the "Oszi" or 400 Series units is the image screen from the PRO35 and shares the same elliptical movement. Initial reports are that there is a greater range of T-stops available before the pattern becomes apparent.
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Old November 20th, 2003, 11:54 AM   #7
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Thanks for the info Mizell.

I had guessed that the Otto units were older technology, as they uniformly registered 1 1/3 stops slower than the TCS setups. This baffled me until I remembered something about the later generations being "faster"/more light efficient.

Really looking forward to the "Oszi" (where does that name come from and how do we pronounce it??!)

Cheers to banishing the swirling vortex!!
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Old November 20th, 2003, 12:09 PM   #8
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Charles,

Great read! It is amazing what you guys put into this and I can't wait to see the end result. Please advise when and where we can all catch the spot as the date gets closer. Thanks again...

Clay
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Old November 20th, 2003, 12:17 PM   #9
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Charles,

Oszi is short for the german word for Oscillating. It is pronounced similar to Aussie with more of an "O" sound and a slight emphasis on the z.

We will be starting to delivery these units to rental houses as December progresses and by the new year there should be a critical mass in the country to allow for multi-cam setups like the Amex commercial

mizell
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Old November 24th, 2003, 10:48 AM   #10
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Very interesting, Charles. Thanks for posting it for us.

I'm looking forward to seeing it.
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Old November 24th, 2003, 11:26 AM   #11
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Cool gig Charles. Looking forward to seeing some of your work.

A couple of questions for ya:

Did you monitor via composite -or- S-Video out from the XL1S? Would you find value in an EVF for the XL cameras that was switchable between *high resolution* color or B&W?

And when you get the chance, could you explain to the readers the benefit gained by the "matte" used in the matte box on the Jimmy Jib setup pictured in the second-to-last image ("Day Seven: Detail Of Jimmy Jib setup) on this page:
http://www.dvinfo.net/canon/images/images20.php. It would help some of the readers to understand why matte boxes are called "matte boxes".

Oooops, that was three questions!

Nice expedition hat by the way, I have one just like that.

Hoping all is well,

- don
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Old November 24th, 2003, 03:02 PM   #12
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Two words: Awesome report! Thanks so much for that. I'll
probably need to read it a dozen times before I grasp it all.
Sometimes just don't read that natural to me... yet...

As always I also have a couple of questions:

1. What shutter speeds did you guys use? (for the 60i and 30p parts)? I remember something like the 35mm adapter also having a seperate shutter?

2. I noticed you guys used a lot of light on some locations. I know good lighting is a must, but why so much? Do you need that powerful lights to influence daylight? How can the actors work under such powerful lights. I can't look at 300W <g>

3. multiple-format frameline generator: I imagine this is a device that sits between the feed from the camera and the viewfinder? Overlaying electronic guides? I'm wondering how this looks "in" the viewfinder

Again thank you very much for the time you took to get this all
done and very interested to see the end results as well!

Gracias!
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Old November 25th, 2003, 03:53 AM   #13
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Hello gents, thanks for the thumbs up.

Don:

The video assist guys ran miles of composite (BNC) cable to the various monitors around the set, including the 9" reserved for me (but often absconded by the director). Since the S-Video signal wasn't going to make major differences to the contrast, exposure or color balance (color purity is not so much of an issue to me on set) it wasn't worth dealing with separate S cables and the much more finicky plugging in and out procedure with that damn connector. We were re-cabling dozens of times a day, so it would have been a royal pain.

The viewfinder you describe sounds lovely, although I have only seen one color viewfinder that seemed even halfway useable (on the Panavised Cinealta). As long as it is as sharp as the FU1000, bring it on!

The object you refer to in the mattebox of the jib-mounted camera is a hard matte, used to simply and effectively flag light from the lens. There is a selection that are listed by lens; the more telephoto, the smaller the hole in the hard matte. You just snap it in and it gets a lot of the flares. The siders and french flag do the rest, or the grips get the really tricky ones with flags on stands.

The Tilly hat rocks--may not be high fashion but gets the job done.

Rob:

Shutters were fixed at 1/60th.

The Mini35 has an aperture (referred to in my article as the relay) but not a shutter per se.

With the Mini35s we were using, the XL1 comes in at between 125 and 200 ASA, making it not a particular sensitive camera. Even at a T2 on the taking lens, 0 db gain and wide open on the relay, it took those big guns, lighting-wise, to get the job done. The units are never used directly from the front, more often bouncing into griffs or as backlights in the scene, often diffused, so much of the punch is cut down by the time it hits the subject. Thus not really an issue for the actors, until the scenario pictured in the article when we had to replicate the sun which had just set, and we were banging 18ks into Jerry's face from a 3/4 frontal position, with little or no diffusion. Fortunately he was looking the other way!

The frameline generator can be seen under the XL1 in some of the pix (in most Mini35's, this area would be empty save for the oversize dual rods). Otto's version allows for dashed (rather than solid) framelines to be superimposed on the image going out to the monitor, and selectively to the viewfinder. They look a bit like the 16:9 guides that the XL1s generates but as mentioned earlier they are dashed lines.

Happy to answer any and all questions...quick, while I still remember this job!
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Old December 1st, 2003, 02:03 PM   #14
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Thanks so much, Chris, for posting these links on the forum. I have to confess I don’t go to the Watchdog pages very often, and what a treat I would have missed!

And thank you, Charles, for the inspiring, entertaining and quite informative articles/pictures. I say entertaining for many reasons, one being that even though I’m not one to enjoy someone else’s suffering, I had to smile at your writing about blowing up your transmitter. Your descriptive writing style just begs for a few laughs.

On to the questions, and--I apologize in advance--they're pretty basic: Can you elaborate on your use of monitors/viewfinders in general terms? You mention your FU1000 viewfinder, (which is monochromatic, right?) then in a different shoot you talk about “painting” the cameras, plus using gels to achieve “a nice warm look with accurate skin tones”—which must have been done with a color monitor. Then there’s the shoot in the desert with the broadcast monitors—also assuming they are color—and your wishing you had ordered a waveform monitor.

Sorry if this is too elementary, but I’m still pretty green and don’t get around this equipment. Did you have a waveform monitor in the city? And what would it have shown you in the desert that you lacked? I’ve also wondered about the tradeoffs between shooting with color references or monochromatic, so I guess I’m basically asking if you rely on one form or the other, depending on the shoot, or if you try to “cover all your bases” when it comes to monitors/viewfinders. Oh, and one more question: When you use a monochromatic viewfinder/monitor alone, do you usually just put all the presets in the middle on your XL1s?

I hope you know how much we appreciate your notes. It’s amazing how much can be learned/experienced vicariously if someone knows how to present the details! Thanks for taking the time.
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Old March 31st, 2004, 12:52 AM   #15
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If you haven't checked out the end results yet, be sure to see http://www.jerry.digisle.tv/room.html. Enjoy,
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