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Sony ENG / EFP Shoulder Mounts
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Old March 15th, 2006, 12:55 AM   #1
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Cine Alta F900 for dummies

Having had to deal with these questions numerous times about the f900 (cinealta) I wanted to take a moment and give everyone (who's interested) a basic overview of the functions anyone who calls them self an HD shooter with the f900 should know. Note that these notes will come from my real world answering of questions that "HD camera operators" who charge at least $500 a day call me up and pose to me at which point I fight the urge to hurl my phone across the room. I'll update this post as the phone calls come in.

1) The Frame rate. Frame rate is not located in the top (or user) menu, if you adjust that you are only adjusting the warning light, which is the light that looks like "!" and can be referred to as the HEY JACKASS! light and tells you when you've left your select preset. I.E. Hey Jackass! you're not shooting in 3200k anymore. (or most likely in a dummies case HEY Jackass you're not shooting in 59.94)

FRAME RATE is changed in the Maintenence menu (M7 to be exact). You navigate to that menu (note you might have to push in the rotary encoder while flipping down the menu switch to get to the top menu then select maintence from the menu) go to page 7 and from there you will see a menu that reads CURRENT and NEXT. Current is the, uh... current frame rate you're shooting in, Next is the frame rate you'll be shooting in AFTER YOU SHUT DOWN THE EF'ING CAMERA. So you navigate to the desired frame mode SELECT it with the rotary encoder and then once the desired frame rate is read in the NEXT section. TURN THE CAMERA OFF.

Congratulations you did it, you changed the frame rate, now you will have more or less run time on your HDCAM tape and now with this wealth of knowledge can go raise your rate, and stop calling me from mexico becuase you lied and said you had experience workign with an F900 and are now in cancun surrounded by hawaiian tropic girls and an angry producer with a camera shooting 23.98 and you don't know how to change it to 59.94, of course I'm speaking hypothetically.

On the next installment of f900 for dummies, Putting Time code on a viewing monitor. (a hint it can only be done through HD analog out)
I have a dream that one day canon will release a 35mm ef to xl adapter and I'll have iris control and a 35mm dof of all my ef lenses, and it will be awesome...
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Old March 15th, 2006, 06:10 AM   #2
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This is funny. I look forward to your next installment of technical knowledge. But most important, please tell us more "hypothetical situations".

I love real life stories of location shoots that almost exploded. More stories please.
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Old March 15th, 2006, 07:56 AM   #3
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Hah! I'm really looking forward to this series, Nick!

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Old April 23rd, 2006, 02:05 AM   #4
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Sorry for the long delay but I wanted to make sure I had some real good stories to offer up.

But first I'll start with a short (note consider this my intellectual property but if you make money off of it please give me a credit and send me a sixer of bud select and I'll be happy). Please note that this of course did not really happen and was not in any way inspired by true events, none of the people that I work for would ever behave in such a way as listed in my short story and even if they did I would never admit it because Nick Likes to work.

Nick is walking along on location(!) when suddenly there is a chirp on his walkie talkie from one of his ENG units.

WALKIE: Nick, there's a problem with our new viewfinder, can you get over here?

Nick: Uh, sure.

Nick arrives at the location, and takes a look at the situation. It's the middle of the day in the desert and the viewfinder is pointed directly at the sun.

Nick: Hmm, is there maybe some sort of bright spot on the viewfinder that you can't get rid of?

Crew: YEAH! that's totally it.

Nick: How long has the camera been like that?

Crew: 30-45 minutes...

Nick: Are you familiar with magnifying glasses?

Crew: yeah...

Nick: You know how if you hold a magnifying glass in the sun it generates a pinpoint of light?

Crew: Yeah totally- you could burn ants.

Nick: Yup, You could burn ants, twigs, CRT monitors...

Crew: What? Oh. man. Can you fix it?

Of course no I can not fix it, well not without a $6000 replacement CRT screen. The follow up to this was the (fictional...) conversation with the producer later on.

Nick: We have to get a new viewfinder or replace the one that they burned up.

Producer: What?

Nick: We have to get a new view-

Producer: I know what you said, what happened?

Nick: They left the viewfinder pointed at the sun and it washed out a portion of the CRT

Producer: That sounds like a design flaw, can't you change something?

Nick: The properties of light?

Producer: There should be a warning or something.

Nick holds up the viewfinder and points to the pretty pictures printed on it.

Nick: you mean this picture of a viewfinder then an arrow with an x through it pointed at this picture of the sun?

Producer: That could mean anything... See if you can get it covered under warranty.

Nick: Uh, yeah... will do.

So my fellow camera operators let that be a lesson to you that it's not just an old wives tale, you really don't want to have a magnifying glass (viewfinder lens) pointed at a crt (viewfinder). The sun is bright, at times even over 100 IRE and can cause damage to many things when put under something that causes it to be more intense or magnified.

Let's say though that you happen to work for someone who just perpetually leaves the viewfinder in that position and there's nothing you can do to change that person. If you happen to have a 4x floppy hanging out you could offer to shade that person (and the camera) from the direct sunlight and keep your gear safe as well. You'd be surprised how well liked this makes you by both the camera operator getting the shade and the producer who doesn't have to shell out 6k for a new viewfinder every shoot.
I have a dream that one day canon will release a 35mm ef to xl adapter and I'll have iris control and a 35mm dof of all my ef lenses, and it will be awesome...
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Old April 23rd, 2006, 08:55 AM   #5
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so what you're saying is that the lens should always be pointed at the sun, not the viewfinder? Thanks for the advice!
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Old May 1st, 2006, 10:10 PM   #6
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Oh now I get it. All my images were all washed out and dark before. Pointing into the sun should fix that real quick!

great story!

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Old May 1st, 2006, 10:55 PM   #7
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I take it there was no AC on this shoot?

Most ACs should know about that. It's good practice to turn down or cover the eyepiece of a film camera in full sun also...some cameras will leak light from the finder optics and flash a bit of film.

It ALWAYS has to be done on a film camera if the eyepiece is uncovered while the cam is running.
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Old May 2nd, 2006, 12:36 AM   #8
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a well designed view finder would have an acrylic glass layer and a shutter (LCD or mechanical) at the eye end
on the side acrylic glass layer, there would be a light sensor.
When the light reach an high value (that is unlikely for the eyepiece part of a viewfinder), the shutter would close.
or better it will act like an SLR miror and just flip.
That is what the producer probably would expect from a good design.
(usually simple minded people have the best ideas).
Then the Field engineer would have an additional job, to release the shutter when it badly locked, and the provider of the viewefinder makes more money because it cost twice the price.
So everybody would be happy.
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Old May 2nd, 2006, 05:31 PM   #9
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This thread is priceless! Keep it up! It's a valuable thread to many of us (although I have always had the habit of turning my EVF down, even at night). I've shot with the F900 several times, but I haven't nearly begun to memorize the set-up menus, and I've probably been guilty of a few of those "walkie" calls myself.



Last edited by Ralph Oshiro; May 2nd, 2006 at 06:18 PM.
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Old May 5th, 2006, 06:51 PM   #10
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Owen and Dave: Perfect You're hired!

Nate: No there were "Camera Utilities" on the shoot but for the most part it was like a run and gun ENG shoot, only less running.

Giroud: You're a genius, I wonder how difficult something like that would eb to make. I'm in the process of modding a viewfinder to have a tally light for multicam in the viewfinder, I wonder if i can incorporate a similar design, sony has enough money how about shipping some to me.

Ralph: We've all been there man, I've made countless errors the only thing was I was interning at a rental house makeing a whopping 5.25 and hour when I made mine, these guys well, maybe they just need a paycut.

Here's a quick one that I've heard about, but didn't happen to me.

A self-proclaimed "HD DP" sends a camera back because when he switched the lens to Auto, the zoom didn't work. My lens guy got the lens in, checked all the connectors and everything was fine, though the backfocus was off. He shipped it back out saying there was no problem (except for the backfocus).

The DP get's it back and then coplains that the lens was not fixed and now insists that the facility (that fixed the gear) pay for reshoot's because he was sent a lens with broken "auto" and bad elements.

It took some "House"-like (think sherlock holmes if you haven't seen the show) digging until we discovered that the auto switch the HD-GURU was flipping was AUTO-IRIS he wasn't touching the Manual/Servo switch that controls the zoom. So the reason it "wasn't working" was that the Zoom never got switched out of manual. The next thing that happened was he called up the lens repair guy (who for the record is a super nice and uber-professional and competent dude) and proceeded to berate him because his lens came back out of focus. Evidently when it was shipped the backfocus wasn't readjusted by the DP (who it sounds like was also the camera operator) and therefore everything he shot that day was out of focus.

A Sony-authorized service manager told me this story and the reaction of the producer when he explained to him what happened. Next he told me the name of this guy and how he is warning everyone he knows and likes (and some people he doesn't like) to avoid shooting with him because this HD-DP is an idiot.

The lesson (though not terribly funny at all) is 1) If you don't know the gear don't pretend you do 2) Don't mess with people who fix your gear, if they say it works it probably works, and if you can't get it to work have them show you. 3) ALWAYS BACK FOCUS YOUR HD LENSES, for the love of god, if you don't know how, learn; hell e-mail me I'll but together a sheet, it's easy it saves you time, and possibly keeps you getting jobs.
I have a dream that one day canon will release a 35mm ef to xl adapter and I'll have iris control and a 35mm dof of all my ef lenses, and it will be awesome...
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Old May 6th, 2006, 04:13 AM   #11
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noo....after reading that, maybe we all need pay raises.
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