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Old September 21st, 2010, 07:18 PM   #1
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Any news on Hocus Focus?

With DSLRs heating up, I'm wondering if I can fly one on my Pilot, including light rods, matte box, wireless focus, etc.

The Hocus Focus web site looks like they're selling now, but only in Europe.
Hocus Products

Does anyone have more detailed info on Hocus Focus? Any other players in this space?

Also, do DSLRs have decent auto-iris? Do I need an iris motor as well?
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Old September 23rd, 2010, 11:36 PM   #2
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Dave,

The Hocus Focus motor and receiver combination looks to weigh in around a pound, so I can't see a problem setting up a DSLR with light weight rods and a matte box with two glass filters on the Pilot. The HoFo is lighter than the Bartech that I'm using.

I'm wondering how often you'd encounter DSLR production situations where you'd have an AC/focus puller but wouldn't have enough lighting control to work within a particular exposure range. In run and gun situations I've (reluctantly and rarely) set the ISO to Auto (on a Canon 7D) and had viable results. Setting the iris to auto would effect the depth of field which could have curious results (but the experimental filmmaker in me is a bit intrigued to try it). You'd need a Cine style lens with a manual iris gear (not a DSLR lens) to actually pull exposure and the second receiver and motor might push the Pilot to it's limit. Fortunately the Hocus Focus receiver can be battery powered, so you wouldn't need to add a break out box (for power) to the Pilot, but the NP batteries would add weight to this set up.

Carl
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Old September 24th, 2010, 08:46 AM   #3
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Thanks Carl! Exactly the kind of info I was looking for.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl Wiedemann
I'm wondering how often you'd encounter DSLR production situations where you'd have an AC/focus puller but wouldn't have enough lighting control to work within a particular exposure range.
Mostly exteriors moving in and out of shadows, or sometimes moving between interiors and exteriors.

My HVX200 has a nice subtle auto-iris algorithm (much better than the DVX) and you can also adjust auto-iris in the scene file to keep it lighter or darker. I didn't use it much at first, but now I use it often.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl Wiedemann
In run and gun situations I've (reluctantly and rarely) set the ISO to Auto (on a Canon 7D) and had viable results. Setting the iris to auto would effect the depth of field which could have curious results (but the experimental filmmaker in me is a bit intrigued to try it).
Good point. With a 3-CCD camera, DOF is so large it usually doesn't matter.

I'm curious, does setting the auto-ISO noticeably affect the image? Any issues with grain?

Also, if you get a chance to play with auto-iris on your 7D, let me know what you think.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl Wiedemann
You'd need a Cine style lens with a manual iris gear (not a DSLR lens) to actually pull exposure and the second receiver and motor might push the Pilot to it's limit.
Good to know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl Wiedemann
Fortunately the Hocus Focus receiver can be battery powered, so you wouldn't need to add a break out box (for power) to the Pilot, but the NP batteries would add weight to this set up.
I'm very good at making custom cables, so I'm sure I can power everything from the Pilot Sled.

By the way, does your Bartech receiver have both focus and iris?
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Old September 25th, 2010, 08:51 PM   #4
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Hey Dave,

The Hofo is a great unit at an amazing price.

I dont own one at the moment but i am good friends with the owner of the company - Peter.

Give him an email and he'll be able to answer all your questions.

Hofo's ship world wide.

The HoFoPro is also not far off.. New Motor powerful enough to turn all cine lenses & a new RX.

Joe
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Old September 26th, 2010, 12:49 PM   #5
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HoFoPro - sort of rolls off the tongue ...

Sounds interesting.

Seems like a fair number of people are using PL mount lenses with DSLRs.
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Old September 26th, 2010, 02:59 PM   #6
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I keep in touch with Peter and have tracked the development of his product. The HoFoPro has ballooned a bit in scope--it's quite nice but the price has ended up similarly to the Bartech, with a similar and slightly more favorable feature set. I would expect that he will find his market as a European product more than in the US for that reason.

There are others who have announced or shown or even shipped units that are still pretty challenged operationally. What seems to happen in this arena is that folks build a breadboard that remotely turns a motor and then announce their product at a favorable price, then two years later it either fails to materialize or they emerge with something at a much higher price, once they realize there's a lot more to it. RF is a bitch...

Lots of talk at NAB over the Redrock system that was announced, but it was all about the flashy iPhone interface--the unit wasn't mechanically operational (and had already leapt in price compared to their original announcement).

I believe that the likely version of a remote focus unit that will take the DSLR market is going to be wired. The expectation is that the system has to cost significantly less than the cameras and a reliable wireless system is not going to happen for that. Wires are of course a pain but it's better than nothing.

Carl brings up a good point about the current Achilles heel of most lenses used on the Canons, the lack of ability to pull iris cleanly. I've been talking to manfacturers about this for a while and hoping that someone would come up with an interface to the internals of the camera, as it has the ability to adjust iris to 1/8's of a stop via the software, which is just about smooth enough to appear stepless if done relatively quickly and/or on a move. There's talk but no action on this yet. When I bought my Zeiss ZE's, I spent some time considering getting the ZF's instead and having the irises modified to be clickless so that I could attach a motor for iris control but I wasn't confident in using the mount adaptor required to work the ZF's on the Canons. So far I've managed to do plenty of shoots with them and work around the lack of iris-pulling. I've meant to get one of those double pola affairs and mount a gear ring on it for exterior pulls but haven't yet.
Currently the best solution for stock Canons is the Zeiss CP2's, with the EF mount and cine-style iris ring.

I would definitely not recommend using auto-ISO with the 7D, as it has been shown that gain is introduced between "native" ISO's and you would be stepping through those with alarming speed! It may be less of an issue with a daylight shot on a stabilizer as the movement may hide the shifts but they would surely be there.
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Old September 26th, 2010, 08:56 PM   #7
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Thanks Charles! As usual, you've answered my questions, plus given me a lot more to think about.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert
... I bought my Zeiss ZE's... So far I've managed to do plenty of shoots with them and work around the lack of iris-pulling.
Can you expand on this a little? Do you compensate with lighting, or just depend on the dynamic range of the camera? By the way, have you ever used the Litepanels Ringlite?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert
Currently the best solution for stock Canons is the Zeiss CP2's, with the EF mount and cine-style iris ring.
Wow! These look GOOD. They're already renting in NYC. At less than $4K each, I could even see people owning one or more of these. Since the lens can switch between PL, EF and F mounts, it seems like it will cover most, if not all of the cameras used for low budget stuff (DSLRs, RED One, Scarlet, Epic, etc.).
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Old September 26th, 2010, 11:38 PM   #8
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I guess I've just been lucky with the exterior shots so far, haven't needed to do any iris pulls yet.

I have used the Litepanels Ringlite quite a bit, mostly for music videos. A few viewable here; both of the Pretty Reckless clips and the Superman clip featured the Ringlite.

CP2's are starting to catch on here and there. They are certainly affordable compared to most cine style lenses. BTW when you say "cameras used for low budget stuff", two of the cameras you listed don't "exist" yet...
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Old September 27th, 2010, 09:26 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert
BTW when you say "cameras used for low budget stuff", two of the cameras you listed don't "exist" yet...
Right. I guess that's my point. Since the CP.2 lens can switch mounts (EF, F, & PL), they would probably last though many future generations of cameras, whatever those may be.

Zeiss even gives user instructions on how to change their lens to a different mount:
http://www.zeiss.com/C12575690045D103/EmbedTitelIntern/MountChangeInstructionsCP.2/$File/MountChangeInstructionsCP2_EN.pdf

So buying one or more of these primes seems like it could be a longer term investment.

In particular, if one lens tends to work well for most Steadicam shots, I'm thinking that one could be purchased, and the others could be rented.

Does this make sense?
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