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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
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Old January 8th, 2010, 12:24 PM   #1
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Working on EX series focus assist system

HI all, I am new to the site but have owned my EX1 since June 09. I am both a commercial videographer and an emerging independent film maker. Aside from that I have always been interested in problem solving and inventing new methods and tools that make things work better.
Lately I have been working very capable but low cost focus pull system for the EX 1/3 cameras. So far I have built some prototypes and have tested them on a couple of projects. The design is not complete yet but is very close to being finalized. I would like to know what you think about a product like this and if you would find it useful.

Here is a quick description

1. it's light weight but durable
2. it can be mounted on either side of the camera
3. it does not require rods or any other bulky mounting gear (nothing more to buy)
4. It can be left on the camera when it's put back into your case and ready to go next time you pick it up.
5. in most cases it won't interfere with any other camera attachments.

Here is what it does.

6. It can be operated by either the CO or the CA
7. It can be operated by the CO while he is using the camera hand held or on sticks.
8. You can set a number of predetermined stops that will allow precise focusing with or without visual contact. In other words you can be looking in the cup or at the monitor and precisely hit multiple focus points without having to divert your eyes to the camera.
9. It makes focusing easier when the camera is mounted on a jib, steadicam, or track and by setting the marker clips at predetermined or known distances, a CO can estimate focus points while on the run much more accurately.


Who would benifit from using it?

10. I believe it will be a great asset for run and gun videography, news gathering, weddings, live event coverage where you can preset multiple focus points, and move from one to the next and back with full confidence and precision. (podium to stage right to guest speaker etc.)

11. Independent filmmakers will be able to pull focus accurately with or without a CA allowing them to use an open iris more often with more confidence giving better DOF control.

Best of all it looks like it will be available for under $180.USD. I am still working on the details so price is not locked yet.

Would you be interested in something like this, assuming that once you have seen it in action it lives up to the description?
I have two preproduction units, one for myself and one person to test. I am now working on some minor changes before I post any video or pics but I anticipate that I will have the new version done by the end of next week. I look forward to your first impressions and questions.

Larry Kelly
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Old January 8th, 2010, 12:49 PM   #2
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Hi Larry,

I shoot movies as well as other productions and would be very interested in a $180 focus pulling system, especially if it can be operated by the CO or a CA. Once you have further details I'd love to see some pictures and videos of it in action. Also, if you have need for further testing let me know. Actually, I've got a movie that I'm DP on that begins principle photography on January 30th. If you have a preproduction model or a test unit I'd love to give it one test run. Let me know if that would be possible.

You can email me directly if you want at:

Garrett@GlowMediaProductions.com

Thanks,
Garrett
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Old January 8th, 2010, 01:15 PM   #3
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Thanks for the response Garrett. It would be great to hear what someone else thinks about the product. I would like to have a final production model complete before the end on the month but if I can get one in your hands prior to your shoot I would apreciate any input you have and I think it would add to the quality of your film. I will send you an email when I have something to send you.

larry
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Old January 8th, 2010, 01:45 PM   #4
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Thanks Larry,

We'll be shooting starting at the end of the month and continuing on various dates through February. I also do live stage events, in fact I've got one to shoot tomorrow, so you're focus assist device would be of great help.

For the live shows I usually break the stage into regions and pre-measure focus distances. If your device has a number of stops I could preset for the various regions it would be great.

Keep me posted,
Garrett
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Old January 8th, 2010, 03:05 PM   #5
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I too would be interested in a focus assist at that price, especially if a pair could be operated together for my 3D rigs.
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Old January 8th, 2010, 06:34 PM   #6
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Now that's a challenge! I will think about that and see if there is any way to make something that can be made to work one a one off basis. I don't see much demand in the short term for this but I like a challenge and if I can make it work I will build it.

Larry
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Old January 9th, 2010, 08:38 AM   #7
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I spent a full day working on the focus assist system yesterday but had slow progress as it's very dificult to find hardware in this city. Everything is special order and two to three weeks away. I was able to get the latest shape changes of the unit into CAD so it's ready to go for next week.


Alister, I have come up with an idea that should work for you. If you are seriously interested in this I will make it for you. I will need all of the details around your camera setup and a picture of the two cameras mounted together as well as what type of shooting you are doing. Are the cameras mounted at a fixed distance apart with no variation from shot to shot? What is the distance between the cameras measured from the centre of one camera to the centre of the other? Do you use full manual focus exclusively or is there any situation where you would use auto focus or use the shot transition for focus adjustments?
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Old January 9th, 2010, 11:44 AM   #8
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Alister;
I have been looking into shooting some 3D stuff with me and a friend's EX1s, do you have pictures of your rig anywhere that I could take a look at along with any advice you might be able to offer?

Larry;
I am VERY interested in this. Mostly due to not needing any rails or anything extra to mount it... I'd love to see some shots of it if you get a chance! I'm assuming the $180 would be cost without shipping?
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Old January 9th, 2010, 09:54 PM   #9
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Yes no rails and the fact that you can put it on a naked camera and not even notice any weight change as well as being able to put it back in the bag without taking it off means that you may rarely ever remove it.

I would like to get some pics up but I am not going to post anything until I have the production model finished or at least until it is very close to complete. I have one preproduction version on my camera and one I am carrying around with me as I work on the next version but first impressions are perminent so I don't want to put it out there until it is where I want it to be.

Larry
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Old January 10th, 2010, 06:15 AM   #10
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Larry, I too will be very interested in this product and look forward to hearing about its development.

Geoff
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Old January 10th, 2010, 08:31 AM   #11
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Also interested to see if this would fit my needs. Thanks for keeping us informed.
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Old January 10th, 2010, 09:25 AM   #12
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Not wanting to hijack this thread there is lots of information in the Stereoscopic forum 3D Stereoscopic Production & Delivery Forum at DVinfo.net

or information on my 3D shooting within my blog. XDCAM-USER.com 3d

To shoot 3D you really need an EX3 + EX1 as you need genlock to sync the cameras.

Larry, the camera spacing varies a lot depending on the shot and camera rig being used.
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Old January 10th, 2010, 11:46 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alister Chapman View Post
Not wanting to hijack this thread there is lots of information in the Stereoscopic forum 3D Stereoscopic Production & Delivery Forum at DVinfo.net

or information on my 3D shooting within my blog. XDCAM-USER.com 3d

To shoot 3D you really need an EX3 + EX1 as you need genlock to sync the cameras.

Larry, the camera spacing varies a lot depending on the shot and camera rig being used.


That's quite alright Alister, this 3D world is fascinating. After reading your blog and doing some research I see it is not so straight forward to achieve a sync'ed focus between two cam's that are changing locations in relation to eachother but with some thought and some time to work through the challenges I will be able to put something together for you. What do you think about this rig which seems to stay at a fixed distance and only changes convergence or is it? I wonder whether they use an ultrasonic distance finder to auomatically change convergence? That's what I would do. I guess James Cameron's rig would be the holy grail at this stage?
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Old January 10th, 2010, 03:04 PM   #14
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Is this focus system mechanical or electronic?
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Old January 10th, 2010, 03:09 PM   #15
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This is a mechanical system, simple yet it works and is precision cnc machined.
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