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Old September 21st, 2007, 07:40 AM   #1
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HVX not good enough?

I recently was asked by a local indie to take a 4-hr job for a client of his. (He's unavailable to do it himself). However, I must use the indie's camera, pod...his entire rig. Seems the client works or is otherwise connected to one of the major networks, and "wants a lens" for this shoot, but not the HVX. The cam I'll be using is a few yrs old, in good condition, and is a large, heavy (approx 20 lbs). and heavily-modified shoulder-mount that shoots only DVCPRO. I'm a bit concerned because I've never used this cam myself, but the indie is willing to loan it to me for this shoot. (I don't know the exact model of the cam).

I also am to use remotes for zoom/focus/iris, other things I've never used.

I'm more worried about getting the settings right than framing, etc. What's your best advice/most common warning in this situation?

Anyone else ever lose a job or have to change to a different rig because you were "constrained" to the fixed lens?
Our actions are based on our own experience and knowledge. Thus, no one is ever totally right, nor totally wrong. We simply act from what we "know" to be true, based on that experience and knowledge. Beyond that, we pose questions to others.
Denis Danatzko is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 21st, 2007, 10:30 AM   #2
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Hi Dennis:

Yes, as a matter of fact, last week I had a potential client who wanted to only shoot DigiBeta. When I told him that my Panasonic HD camera could shoot DVCPro50, which is essentially a very similar version of DBeta and that I could give him the material on DigiBeta tape, he still wanted to rent DigiBeta. I told him the better plan was to shoot HD and downconvert to DBeta, then he would have the material on HD if he ever needed to make an HD master. I was met by a "blank stare" over the phone.

If clients don't understand technology, they are afraid of it. Clients like to get in a rut, no suprises, etc. I think he was also looking for an owner/operator, didn't want to pay to have me rent and I don't own a DBeta camera so he went elsewhere. Oh well, can't please all of the people all of the time.

Make sure you get the owners manual for the camera. Once you have shot with broadcast cameras, while they are all different, you will get tuned in to how they work. They are different than your small camera. Do you know how set back focus? Do you understand the menu system? I shot a few weeks ago with four HDX-900s. The menu system on those cameras is much like the Varicam, which I have also shot with, so I was okay to figure out where most of the functions are but if I hadn't have known how to transfer setups with an SD card or how to turn on 24P over 60, I would have been in trouble.

If you can find out the exact model, you might be able to download the manual ahead of time. Learn how to set back focus and buy a back focus chart. The single most common newbie mistake with broadcast cams are that they are often packed in hard cases with the lens detached. If so, when you attach the lens to the body, the back focus will need to be adjusted. If you don't know and understand how to do that, you can really screw up the footage. You will zoom in to focus, pull back and the picture will go soft.

Best of luck,

Dan Brockett is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 21st, 2007, 11:21 PM   #3
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: USA
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My advice would be to make sure you are comfortable with this gear before the shoot. The shooter giving you the job should be at least as concerned as you are about it. If you cannot get your hands on this gear or something equivilent, I wouldn't do it.

If you have a tech on the job who can cover that stuff then you could rely on him. But if its a 4 hour one man band - that can be very stressful if you don't know the equipment.

As Dan said, most broadcast gear is pretty similar, but if you're only used to HVX type semi-pro or consumer stuff you'll be all thumbs. It sounds like it might be an SDX900.
Leonard Levy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 2nd, 2007, 11:04 PM   #4
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Location: Tulsa, OK
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SDX900 in my opinion will produce an obviously better image than the HVX, especially in any challenging light. Unless you are talking RealityTV, many networks frown on anything but b-roll from 1/3" CCD cameras.

ash =o)
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