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Old May 8th, 2002, 06:56 AM   #1
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Megacrane

Just picked up this neat little (and heavy) device for over head and crane shots. It's basically a jib arm (I guess that's what I've heard other calling it). I'll be using it to shoot a music video over the next month (for a guy who is designing promo pieces and a promo poster for the dv project I want to shoot later this year. I'm posting this to let others know about the product and see if any other XL1'ers are using it out there.

I also have the Glidecam 3000 pro w/ the Bodypod. When I got that handly little thing, I thought that would be enough for a whole project, but I found that after working with it and watching the footage, it's too much on the eye and mentally tiresome to have too many steady/glidecam shots. Not to mention on the arm and wrist.

The MegaCrane is even more interesting to me because, I have the 14x manual lens and I have to focus and focus well, because when the crane starts moving I can only hope it stays a good hard focus on the things I want it to catch. The other challenge is getting the balance right. I found I don't like a perfect 50-50, on the camera and weigths on the other side, balance, but like the camera to be a little higher, since I tend not to take my hand off the crane, when working with it- and this adds an extra pound or so of hand weight and pressure.

Well, that's all for now. I hope everyone is well and take care.

Christian Calson


PS. I also posted this in the XL1 area mistakenly and this is a better place for this, so my apologies for any inconvenience to Chris, if there were any. Thanks Chris.
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Old May 8th, 2002, 08:26 AM   #2
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Don't overlook the SkyCrane. Its inventor, Bob Jones, is behind the Watchdog 100% and, having used it myself, I can tell you it's an awesome jib arm. See www.skycrane.com -- if anybody wants to talk about crane shots in general I think that would be a great discussion. I'm sure Bob would come in and give his input. He's an expert on this stuff.
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Old May 8th, 2002, 08:48 AM   #3
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GREAT

Hi Chris-

That would be great. Crane shots and shooting is so another experience, since I've been used to handheld (or glidecam) or tripod shooting, which is a more rigid world. You can get emotionally reactive angles and perspectives that can tell what your narrative or shot wants to say almost all by itself. I'd love this. What can I do to help make this happen?

Christian Calson
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Old May 8th, 2002, 10:47 AM   #4
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How do you control focus, zoom in/out, record with jibs and cranes?

any advice?

All the best,

Ed Smith
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Old May 8th, 2002, 11:10 AM   #5
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recording with a jib arm/crane

Hi there-

Here's my 2 cents.

First off, I have a manual lens on the xl1. I work with an external monitor (5 inch) that i output from the back, where the ma-100 usually is. I run any xlr cords down to a mixer on the floor that can be placed where I need it (remember that the human body is 80% water and water is killer for lav mics, so I usually have those out of the way of big objects and people) especially since the crane adds to the bulk and size of the tripod I have.

I have lights set up so that they do two things. First, light the person/persons well and second, they don't create shadows from the movement of the crane and the movement of me (because I do move quite a bit when I'm doing moving shots). If you are doing an overhead shot, you might want to put a light on a higher stand so that the actor is completely light, even on top, so that it doesn't look like the higher you go, the less light there is. Basically, you're looking at doubling your shot time. With the set up and any moves you have to make (since the arm and the camera and the extra weights used to balance the camera on the crane will make the tripod difficult to move). I generally need someone to help me at all times when I'm doing shots like these. Also, becareful because if you have hot lights, they will get hot as you are setting up and shooting, and moving the crane and the tripod without awareness of the lights might bite you in the butt.

Also if you have a plate on the tripod head that moves, get it down in a position that it will be absolutely firm. If not careful I could end up with my camera hitting the floor (or worse, an actor) and the whole contraption smashing up someone's livingroom or studio.

You'll need about four times the space you had before the crane, since mine is pretty long (over 8 feet, I think) I plan ahead and bring tape measure in hand on locations to make sure it's even possible to postition certain shots.

I bought a cheap wired zoom remote. It's basically a two channel 1/8" wire attached to a small plastic device that will let you zoom out and in and will let me tape and stop taping. It's handy especially when you have the camera high or low (low especially because remember your legs may be in the shot through shadows, when you are shooting low and you are trying to get to the camera).

This all may sound practical and like a hassle, but really the shots are beautiful. When I didn't have a crane, I thought many shots could be accomplished with a tripod and a steady device, but a crane is really a missing component to great shots. Shots of actors laying on their beds thinking are stunningly intimate. You can also do shots where you direct attention with the camera (i.e. the camera crane movement is like a narrator of sorts).

Or I also did a shot of an actor on his bed, then he got off the bed to look under the bed, and then returned to the bed, again. All in one shot!!! Kick ass!

The crane I have allows you to do some nice dutch shots too, that work well to create perspective in a moving scene and from above or below.

I hope I answered some of your questions. Sorry if stuff is mispelled or poorly phrased but I got to run into meeting shortly and didn't have time to polish.

Regards-

Christian Calson
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Old May 8th, 2002, 11:26 AM   #6
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Ed -- control focus, zoom, record with a VariZoom lens controller, essential not only for crane shots but for all types of videography. See my "Top Five XL1 Accessories" article on the Watchdog at www.dvinfo.net/xl1.htm -- hope this helps,

("Vartizoom" -- sheesh -- corrected to VariZoom)
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Last edited by Chris Hurd; May 8th, 2002 at 03:07 PM.
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Old May 8th, 2002, 02:32 PM   #7
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Wow, cheers digital--guy, and Chris.

Never heard of Vartizoom - is that a new manufacturer!!! - Only joking Chris, I guess you mean VariZoom.

I would love to get a Jib, and digital--guy, you have really convinced me that I need one.

All the best,

Ed
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Old May 8th, 2002, 09:21 PM   #8
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The cool thing about having a jib or crane also is that it allows you to not only do moving shots, but allows you (room provided) to do lock-offs at virtually any point from ground to ceiling, breaking you away from the constraints of conventional tripod shooting. I use one of my company's CamCrane 200's atop a set of old bogen sticks, and its pretty much permanently mounted there.
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Old May 8th, 2002, 11:09 PM   #9
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It's extraordinary that this thread appeared today. My wife and I watched "Tucker" tonight and I couldn't help noticing just how many great cranes shots it features. It got me thinking about getting one of these gizmos...but I just can't think of a good excuse <g>. I'm itching to try one out.
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Old May 9th, 2002, 02:21 AM   #10
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cranes

An exellent and well thought out system is from Microdolly. I started out as a customer and later became a dealer in N. California for them.

Some of the finest made equipt. I've used.

Check them out at www.microdolly.com

I don't get anything for mentioning them. I just love their products and shoot with them all the time. Very portable.

A 13 foot collapable dolly track that weighs less than 10 lbs.

A crane with "dutch" capability at around 13 lbs.

Built like brick houses. If you call, tell Jerry is reffered you.

Chris, maybe you could see about them being a preffered vendor?

David
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Old May 9th, 2002, 03:16 AM   #11
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Hey guys...what exactly are "dutch" shots?
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Old May 9th, 2002, 05:32 AM   #12
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A dutch shot is essentially a kanted camera angle along the x, y, and z axis. Citizen Kane has some really good examples. I am going to stop because I am having touble explaining the shot in technical terms. Imgaine a low angle kanted to the right so the actor comes out of the side of the frame rather than the bottom.
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Old May 9th, 2002, 08:43 AM   #13
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John -- if you ever stumble upon the old 1960's TV series "Batman" with Adam West, a trademark of that show is that all of the scenes with the bad guys (the Penguin, the Joker etc.) are always shot in Dutch angle. Spike Lee did this quite bit in "Do the Right Thing." It's where the camera frame is off-center with the world, tilted quite a bit to the left or to the right. Supposedly the Dutch invented it back in silent movie days, that's where it gets its name.

David -- I know Jerry personally, thanks for mentioning MicroDolly. The problem is that his products are geared for professional use and priced accordingly. He makes outstanding equipment but its price would be out-of-range for a lot of folks. If I ever expand into the pro stuff, then I would see about getting him on here. In the meantime, Bob Jones at SkyCrane makes his jibs specifically for the prosumer DV community (his SkyCrane was made for the XL1) so for now that's a better vendor match for us. Hope this helps,
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Old May 9th, 2002, 03:29 PM   #14
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cris

You are correct sir....Microdolly is expensive.

However with people like Justin ploping down cash for the mini 35, etc. Some folks might be interested.

BTW they also rent, which could be an alternative for folks shooting a one time indie that needs higher end equipt.( no dis to skycrane)
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Old May 9th, 2002, 10:20 PM   #15
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I think I've been marked or something ;)

What is expensive? How much is the Microdolly?

Another jib arm you might consider is the Jimmy Jib.

http://www.jimmyjib.com/otherjibs.html#Anchor-Jimmy-3800

I personally haven't used it but I've been interested in it's ability to control pan and tilt. I've had a Travato Cam Jib for some time and It works well, but I might be looking for something that can be extended as well has more camera controls. Controlling the camera becomes important with jibs.

If anyone has tried this system I'd like to hear about your experiences.
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