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Documentary Techniques
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Old March 12th, 2009, 03:19 PM   #16
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Dear Ashley, Dear Mark
Dear all who have posted here,

Thank you very much for your posts. As a matter of fact, as we are speaking, I'm the happy owner of an EX-1 with a DV-6 Sachtler tripod, a Rode NTG3 and a couple of lav seinheisers. I spent an awful lot of money, but I'm already convinced it was worth it !

The shooting of my doc is going ahead, I love the DOF provided by the EX1's 1/2", and you are right Mike, who cares about an uncontrollable DOF when you are on the spot.

All the best,
Francesco.
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Old March 12th, 2009, 03:23 PM   #17
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Congrats Francesco! good luck with your doc. I'm preping to start shooting for mine this weekend, also shooting with an EX1.
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Old March 12th, 2009, 03:34 PM   #18
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Hey, Francesco

Sounds like an excellent setup! Good luck on your project.
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Old March 13th, 2009, 10:40 AM   #19
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Hey francesco what about the DV-6 Sachtler tripod?I was thinking about buying it but my colleagues in FRanceare suggesting me to buy a Focus cartoni.
Any suggestion?

thx and good luck with your doc
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Old March 16th, 2009, 07:12 AM   #20
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PMW Ex3 Libec LS 38A tripod Sennheiser ME66

Hi, Fransesco,

I am based in Manchester, UK. I am a consultant NHS doctor, shooting docs is one of my hobbies.
The PMW Ex3 is better for docs IMHO esp if you are shooting abroad. Its simphy easier to handhold/ shoulder hold as compared to the EX1. I used a Z1 and a Manfrotto 503/525 combo, for my first doc, I thought it was ok.The Z1 is near about weight to an EX1. Never managed much hand held stuff on either of those.
The point about a light tripod is absolutely correct. Me and my friend doing audio shot in eight Indian cities almost continously for 21 days, last year, in the height of summer.
One of these places though was on top of a mountain in Gujrat (10000 steps), no tripod therefore,left it in the car, I carried the Z1 up the mountain, ultimately we ended up using only a little footage from that day. The Z1 and the EX1 are not really hand held cameras. What could transform these is a nifty little item called a Spiderbrace.
I wouldnt buy the Letus, for the EX3 or the Ex1, its a great piece of kit, but requires time to set up. In run and gun docs, time is a luxury that you dont have most of the time.
I later went to Cambodia and filmed for a week over there used the Libec LS 38A, much easier to carry than the Manfrotto. The Manfrotto though is more solid feeling.

Cheers, I hope that helps.
Manish
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Old March 16th, 2009, 07:14 AM   #21
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Same as above

Sorry left a line out.
Yes, you have a great kit, would love to hear what you think of it, in terms of light weight or not, hand held usefullness and so on.
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Old March 18th, 2009, 05:49 PM   #22
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For light tripods, the new Safari tripod is supposed to be perfect for documentaries. I haven't used it but I was talking to a couple documentarians the other day who love theirs.

www.safaritripod.com

When we hired to shoot our opera doc a couple years ago, we only had a matter of weeks to put our kit together. I was not happy with the Bogen Manfrottos that i had used, so I kept my eyes open on Ebay. I wound up with a Peter Lisand tripod with an O'Connor fluid head that was fantastic. I spent all of $200 on it. We had a bunch of equipment stolen on our last documentary, and I've even wound up having to throw it in the regular baggage without a case or bag and it came through perfectly - not that I advise doing that. I also wound up witha beautiful hardwood Lisand tripod and Lisand fluid head (my husband had used an identical one back when he was part of an ENG crew in the 80s) it's really heavy, but works like a dream and my god, is it pretty. I have never set it up in public without having a crowd gather round to ask about it.

You might want to look at a combination of tripods. I'm looking to get one of the Safaris with my next check, but the Peter Lisand tripods work like a dream and it was nice to get them so inexpensively. The heads are a little scratched up but I don't care. I care that they pan and tilt beautifully, the tripod functions flawlessly and they'll hold up to 35 pounds.
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Old March 21st, 2009, 01:00 PM   #23
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Curious all the options stated here!

Not that it matters now since you have made your decision, and probably all of you are going to find my next words a little strange but here it goes nonetheless.

I mostly do docs as many on this thread. I probably was one of the very first XH-A1 owners. I've shot with it many times and guess what... I've changed my workflow inside out and bought a Sony HC9!!!

It was a pain doing shoulder work all day with a DOF 35mm adapter with the XH-a1 and lets face it, no one can distinguish both cameras after finishing some footage (grading it) in post (I've asked many cinematographers and no one gave a definitive answer). One thing is shoot some resolution charts, another is distinguish footage shot with diferent cameras. All comes to play, what is shot, how it was shot, moving vs still shots, and the list goes on and on...

My HC9 + new SgBlade + 50mm f/1.2 with rods weight 20 grams more than the XH-A1 alone! My Follow Focus unit and GearDear Mattebox (which is the lightest MB on the market), adds only a bit more to that.

About focus problems.
It's a matter of experience and no one is going to shot with the lens wide open (at least most of the times where you have light, and I hope you have). One of the smarter moves here - that I've learned with time - is to have an assistant to light darker scenes with a chinese lantern for you. Your assistant can run it with a battery belt on the go, and you always will have perfect lighted "dark" scenes.

If you know your lens, you can stay within the limits of DOFocus (attention! I'm not talking about DOField, but DOFocus which is different!), and obtain a shallow DOField as you would.

Sound is very important on every film. I would not advise anyone to bugdet this part of the system. I'm a very lucky man because my wife is my sound operator. Our sound system is based around a Tascam HD-P2 with a SD Mixpre feeding it. We currently have a great workaround to have everything in sync and it's called TTL. It's a gadget that transforms the HC9 LANC signal to an TC LTC signal. We run a cord trough the HC9 feeding the Tascam and everything is in sync in post. It's a breeze working like that.

Besides that, the small weight of the image system (HC9+SgBlade+Lens+Rods), make it possible to work with the most reliable and best "budget" tripod on the market with a truly fluid head: Sachtler DV2.

My XH-A1 is reserved now mostly to fiction films which aren't 90% handheld dependent like my docs.

I can say that buy a smaller camera to work with a 35mm adapter was one of the smarter moves that I've made in the film documentary to date!

Last edited by Nelson Alexandre; March 21st, 2009 at 08:16 PM.
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Old March 23rd, 2009, 03:42 PM   #24
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Hi Nelson
Thanks for that post. A couple of questions:
1. Do you have a picture of the actual setup ?
2. DO you have footage on Vimeo to see the results ?
3. How do you manage white balance, ND filters, manual IRIS, Zebra, Peaking, Battery hours (some days I shoot 6-7 hours straight) and all the other regular stuff you find at least on a Z1 ?
I'm very curious !
F
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Old March 23rd, 2009, 05:08 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Francesco Ragazzi View Post
Hi Nelson
Thanks for that post. A couple of questions:
1. Do you have a picture of the actual setup ?
2. DO you have footage on Vimeo to see the results ?
3. How do you manage white balance, ND filters, manual IRIS, Zebra, Peaking, Battery hours (some days I shoot 6-7 hours straight) and all the other regular stuff you find at least on a Z1 ?
I'm very curious !
F
Hi Francesco. I'm going to answer by topic. Here it goes:

1. I don't but I can take some. I will try to post them tomorrow.

2. I don't have footage on Vimeo. I'm not even registered there. All my films are copyright protected by the Portuguese Author Society because they have to, as is part of the contract you make with the Portuguese ICA - Instituto do Cinema e Audiovisual (Cinema and Audiovisual Institute).
I'm planing to do some shots to post somewhere though, just to show the potential of this configuration. I'll do that when I have some more spare time, which is difficult right now. I'm going to start shooting a new Doc this summer with this setup. I will post some not used shots.

3.
About WB. The white balance on the HC9 is set as every other prosumer camera on the market. You can choose between Auto or "One Push" (Manual). You can even set the Auto function to Indoor or Outdoor use. One Push lets you set WB against a white card.

About ND. Simply put the filter on your Mattebox.

About manual Iris. You can either choose Auto or Manual. Obviously, I always choose the later. I attach my SgBlade, zoom the lens on the GG and choose an f stop around f/5.6 most of the times. I always have Sony's Cam Control Dial set to Exposure, so when the light becomes dimmer I open the Iris one or two stops. Knowing out to control the Iris without messing with the Auto Gain feature is very important tough. It toke me many ours to investigate and many others to experiment and put it to work. If you care, I can share the info with you. Just ask.

About Zebra and Peaking. Those two are features that you can encounter on the HC9.

At last, battery hours. The Sony NP-FH100 is a 3980 mAh battery, so compare it with your EX1 6600 mAh BP-U30 Battery and you are going to see that you have a 2620 mAh advantage.
The thing is that your EX1 consumes much more energy than a little HC9. I've been reading EX1's manual and your camera consumes 12W on a typical recording when HC9 consumes only 4W to do the same. Guess which is getting the advantage here :)

Hope this helps.

Last edited by Nelson Alexandre; March 23rd, 2009 at 07:59 PM.
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Old March 25th, 2009, 05:49 AM   #26
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Thanks Nelson
Very curious to see the pictures of your setup (to understand the size and usability) and the outcomes on video !
Best,
Francesco.
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Old April 6th, 2009, 07:31 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Francesco Ragazzi View Post
Thanks Nelson
Very curious to see the pictures of your setup (to understand the size and usability) and the outcomes on video !
Best,
Francesco.
Hi Francesco,

Sorry for the late answer but I went on vacations and only arrive yesterday. Here's a photo of the setup. Bare in mind that the Mattebox shown is not my Geardear (loaned at this time), but a Century MB44 one. It weights about 400 grams.

I've weight the setup that I'm posting here with all that you see there. Camera with battery, SgBlade with Flip, Shoot35 and RedRockMicro Rods with shoulder support, Sg Follow Focus, 28mm f/1.8 (so a very bulky lens), and the Matte Box and it came out weighting a total of 6 kilos. About 13 pounds.

Hope this helps. Cheers
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