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Old July 19th, 2008, 08:04 PM   #31
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Mr Gish, you've hit on the reality of "could there be another way" when indie or student projects are concerned. I would tend to agree that the Letus on a steadicam shot, depending on the shot, but for the most part I likely would not use the Letus on those. However, the problem still remains of having a properly functioning mechanism to focus even without the Letus. Simple stuff from following a subject down a hallway and ending on a dutch tilt; for example. Must have proper focus or the audience is going to be turned off.

I am pleased at least someone agrees that the technology should be around to lessen the cost per unit for the manufacturer as well as the consumer buying the product. A better mousetrap scenario.

Come to think of it, the monkey is perhaps on the wrong back. What do I mean? I mean that instead of frowning at the cost of the focus units by their companies in a niche market perhaps the persons dropping the ball is the maker of the EX1 itself. Like how about building in a radio unit into the camera to follow focus and having the manufacturer sell a controller under $1k for it's own camera. The computer onboard the camera controls all kinds of things. It sinks to blackburst on many cameras. So why not include a digital control of the lens elements for focus inside the camera by digital means. Allow for control by wifi or even an iphone with picture available on the iphone. How about Sony helping us out? They're unit sales are high and they certainly have the technology and cheap work force. Who's with me? One thing is for sure, it would be the only camera out there with a unit on board. EX1 anyone?

Perhaps those revolutionary guys at Red could add such a feature into Scarlet. That would definately sell it for me. How bout it Red?
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Old July 20th, 2008, 08:05 AM   #32
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However, the problem still remains of having a properly functioning mechanism to focus even without the Letus. Simple stuff from following a subject down a hallway and ending on a dutch tilt; for example. Must have proper focus or the audience is going to be turned off.
I don't think this is a problem.

I actually just finished a 4-day shoot with the EX1 yesterday. This was a Columbia graduate student film, and they used the EX1 without a lens adapter for the whole project. On sticks and zoomed in, focus was an issue that the DP was always adjusting. He even had me rack the focus on a dolly shot one day while I wasn't doing Steadicam.

But with the EX1 zoomed out on the Steadicam Pilot, focus was no problem. We just set the focus somewhere between 5 and 10 feet (depending on the shot) and the large DOF carried the shot. The Director and DP saw everything on a 19" monitor with a wireless connection, so they would have seen any focus issues.

By the way, for around $300, this 19" monitor works great for low budget films:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16889107034

Anyway, this was the first time I worked with the EX1. The weight of the EX1 is about the same as my HVX200, but the EX1 seems a bit more front heavy. When I added a wireless audio receiver on the shoe, I wasn't able to get dynamic balance, so we ended up using a separate recorder for sound and slating every shot.

Without the wireless audio receiver on the shoe, dynamic balance was fine, and the EX1 flew great. Everyone watching the monitor liked the Steadicam shots.
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Old July 20th, 2008, 08:49 AM   #33
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Come to think of it, the monkey is perhaps on the wrong back. What do I mean? I mean that instead of frowning at the cost of the focus units by their companies in a niche market perhaps the persons dropping the ball is the maker of the EX1 itself. Like how about building in a radio unit into the camera to follow focus and having the manufacturer sell a controller under $1k for it's own camera. The computer onboard the camera controls all kinds of things. It sinks to blackburst on many cameras. So why not include a digital control of the lens elements for focus inside the camera by digital means. Allow for control by wifi or even an iphone with picture available on the iphone. How about Sony helping us out? They're unit sales are high and they certainly have the technology and cheap work force. Who's with me? One thing is for sure, it would be the only camera out there with a unit on board. EX1 anyone?

Perhaps those revolutionary guys at Red could add such a feature into Scarlet. That would definitely sell it for me. How bout it Red?
Yes, I've been thinking the same thing for quite a while.

In particular, it would be nice to combine all the various functions into 1 wireless link. This would include:
- reference video and audio for the director and other crew
- real time focus, iris, and zoom adjustments
- entering memory card clip meta data info (e.g. scene # & take #)
- time code sync
- record start-stop
- other camera adjustments

This could be designed as 2 modules:

1) A small wireless camera module. There would be 1 multi-pin connector that attaches the module to the camera. This connector would include power, so that the camera also powers the wireless add-on camera module.

2) A wireless control module that sits next to the reference monitor. This would have many different connectors, such as:
- a USB connection to a laptop for configuration and entering clip meta data info
- composite, component, and HDMI connections for reference video
- multiple headphone connectors for reference audio
- multiple connections to various real time controllers (i.e. Bartec type focus device is hard wired into the wireless control module that sits next to the reference monitor).
- AC and DC power connections
- etc.

These 2 units would be optional add-on devices. The various wired real time controllers would also be purchased separately. In addition, there would be different versions to work with the wireless regulations in different countries.

Note that modern digital wireless systems allow for multiple wireless devices to share the same link. This is how many cell phones work with the same cellular base station. So it would be quite possible to use one wireless control module with multiple cameras. There could also be a small wireless module next to the sound recorder for reference audio and time code.

None of this would be cheap, but it would make production a lot easier. Think about how much time is spent dealing with wires on location. So if the price was reasonable, it should sell well enough to make it viable.
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Old July 20th, 2008, 01:20 PM   #34
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By the way, for around $300, this 19" monitor works great for low budget films:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16889107034
Dave, I am wondering what wireless connection was used for the 19" monitor. I plan to shoot full 1920 x 1080 on my masters project. I was thinking about getting a converter box for Hd SDI out to HDMI and buying a 120hz 1080p consumer monitor for focus, as well as one of those distance lasers used by hunters. I was also going to include a bunch of measuring on location scouts and test shoots. I am going to have to include a courtroom scene and it's gonna need to be a jib shot all the way through. I can't think of a better way for the story I am going to tell. It's perfect in planning, but the trick will be to get the focus right.

I don't suppose you frequent San Antonio at all, do you?

D-
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Old July 20th, 2008, 03:57 PM   #35
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Okay ladies and gentlemen. I have a question. Someone take me through this as if I was a six year old. Okay?
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Originally Posted by David Hodge View Post
Yet, I do understand what you are trying to say, Mr Papert. I do happen to have a BA in Business Management and Administration. Not to brag, mind you, but I mentioned it to let you know I have some sensitivity to business and pricing that maximizes sales, etc. Okay?
Guess you don't really want to be taken through this as if you were a six year old then...?!

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I suppose that three gears instead of one directly mounted on the motor is for mechanical advantage for the heavier lenses as well as the "stiffer" lenses. Correct?
In the three gear setup, each gear is attached to an individual motor mounted on either focus, zoom or iris rings on the lens. The modern systems have motors that are powerful enough to turn any lens that can possibly be turned by hand (older incarnations did require doubling up/slaving of motors to achieve this). For many indie folk, only remote focus is required so a single channel system like the Bartech is ideal, especially when it can simply be duplicated for other channels. However, when shooting HD and assuming a reliable monitoring link is in use (i.e. a properly calibrated monitor either hard-wired or with lossless transmission), it is ideal for a DP to have remote control of the iris for exteriors, especially if the sun is in and out of clouds. And under certain conditions, remote zoom can be very handy also. A typical application for this is a crane or jib mounted camera; it's less common to need three motors on a Steadicam but I have been doing more of this lately.

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I guess ya'll would laugh if I suggested a set of remote and servos from, say, Futaba?
RC setups like Futuba were behind some of the earlier efforts at wireless lens control; the higher end systems have moved on to more rugged, reliable and higher resolution technology but it's still viable for a low-end solution. I have evaluated an entry-level product based on an RC engine this but I found it completely unusable. Someone else might have better results.

Wireless is a finicky business when it comes to something as absolute as focus. Taking a "hit" while operating an RC car or a reference video transmission is not generally a deal-breaker, but having your focus suddenly whip from one end of the barrel to the other or stop working briefly is pretty disastrous.

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Of coarse, being the cinefile that I am I would love the best and not worry what things cost as much as what results they bring, but I am not there yet. Must be nice to be in the studio system.
It's not exactly joyous to have to spend the kind of money we do on our equipment, but it is a simple fact that when every minute of production time costs many thousands of dollars, it is expected that one's gear that is being rented to the production be reliable and bullet-proof. I have learned over the years that "getting by" with lesser or jerry-rigged gear is just not worth the stress of hoping it will get the job done or nobody noticing if it doesn't. It can be a very difficult process for many who are starting out as Steadicam operators to be able to afford the equipment and it's not uncommon for people to get fired from jobs because their gear wasn't up to snuff and caused problems (happened to me years ago). The Catch-22 is that you need to have the right gear to get the jobs but you have to get the jobs to be able to afford the gear--that leaves a lot of relatively new operators sweating out their equipment loans until they can gain a foothold and get regular work.

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There is a camera system that works on a remote head that uses a radio transmitter that is worn like a mic unit. When someone walks around it causes the camera to follow the movement of the transmitter so that an operator is not necessary. I wonder if this type of technology could be employed to help the camera focus according to the whereabouts of a transmitter on the subject's person. Think this is possible?
I've seen a prototype of such a system but it never came to market. This would be useful for certain types of shots; certainly you would need to be able to override it if it were literally tied to the servo motor directly but as a focusing aid, could be a useful but slightly exotic tool.

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Does anyone rent the follow focus units by themselves for student projects. It would be expensive for a student to buy insurance for a follow focus unit by itself. I would think the rental houses would only allow a unit for their own cameras. Anyone?
You should be able to rent a Preston or Bartech a la carte from any rental house that offers them. Insurance is always an issue of course. Rental houses that have student deals set up often offer their own insurance which may be cheaper than going to a 3rd party broker.
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Old July 20th, 2008, 08:50 PM   #36
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Dave, I am wondering what wireless connection was used for the 19" monitor. I plan to shoot full 1920 x 1080 on my masters project. I was thinking about getting a converter box for Hd SDI out to HDMI and buying a 120hz 1080p consumer monitor for focus, as well as one of those distance lasers used by hunters. I was also going to include a bunch of measuring on location scouts and test shoots. I am going to have to include a courtroom scene and it's gonna need to be a jib shot all the way through. I can't think of a better way for the story I am going to tell. It's perfect in planning, but the trick will be to get the focus right.

I don't suppose you frequent San Antonio at all, do you?

D-
I don't use anything that fancy for the wireless connection. It's just a cheap composite signal. Charles Papert actually pointed me to this site:
http://www.supercircuits.com/Wireles...Links/AVX900T4
http://www.supercircuits.com/Wireles...Links/AVX900R1

On sticks, I've been using an HD analog Component signal to the monitor. All you need to do is buy a 10-20 foot component video cable, plus 3 RCA couplers, and use gaff tape to secure it to the component cable that comes with the camera. You also need to configure the camera menus to output an HD signal on the Component output.

But on the shoot that finished yesterday, the DP ended up using my composite wireless connection on sticks as well. Without a lens adapter, the focus on the EX1 seems to hold true at any zoom level, so the DP just zoomed in all the way, got focus there, and then zoomed out to the proper frame. Using this technique, composite was good enough, and it was nice to have the sticks completely untethered.
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Old September 1st, 2008, 02:35 PM   #37
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Dave. I thank you. First class reference. I can handle this in my budget. The transmitters that is....

Just to be sure that I understand this you use the settings in the EX1 to output with composite video to judge critical focus. Right? I do plan to use a Letus Extreme with Nikon Nikkors at various focal lengths. Still work in that case?

I am wondering if the transmitted signal from the transmitter and receiver is good enough to make a NTSC backup of the shots? Please advise.

Thanks

David
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Old September 1st, 2008, 02:59 PM   #38
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I am wondering if the transmitted signal from the transmitter and receiver is good enough to make a NTSC backup of the shots? Please advise.
RF transmission is always spotty, definitely nothing you would want to rely on as a backup.
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Old September 1st, 2008, 03:15 PM   #39
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RF transmission is always spotty, definitely nothing you would want to rely on as a backup.
Well, Bummer.

What would you charge per day for services in San Antonio? Local hire?

Send me a private email at luckyhouse@prodigy.net if you wish.

I don't know if I could afford you.

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Old September 2nd, 2008, 12:11 AM   #40
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Just to be sure that I understand this you use the settings in the EX1 to output with composite video to judge critical focus. Right? I do plan to use a Letus Extreme with Nikon Nikkors at various focal lengths. Still work in that case?
Ummm, maybe. If you are using a lens adapter on sticks, I would definitely use HD component video cables, since this is basically free. If you are using a lens adapter on a Steadicam, then you'll need to rent a good wireless follow focus system. In that case, you might also want to rent a good HD wireless video system for critical focus. On the other hand, if your Steadicam shots don't require a shallow DOF, then you could leave the lens adapter off for the Steadicam shots, forget about the wireless follow focus, and just use the cheap composite wireless video system I mentioned above.

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I am wondering if the transmitted signal from the transmitter and receiver is good enough to make a NTSC backup of the shots? Please advise.
Definitely not. The wireless system I mention above is powerful - it will get through steel doors and such, but it does flicker and change colors frequently, so it's not something you would want to record.
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