Heden Carat Follow Focus

HedenCarat3

Heden Engineering has come out with a new follow focus in the same sprit as last years HLC.  It is a bluetooth 4  device with great range and great options.  The new Carat will also drive the motors inside the Fujinon Cabrio and S6 optics which is great news as the Cabrio is a big hit for “big sensor” work.   The hand unit is also smaller than the HLC.

Can’t wait to have a look at this unit in real life!

HedenCarat1

MōVI Gimbal rig

MOVI
(c) 2013 http://freeflysystems.com

Every now and then a new invention comes along that may change the way we work.  Steadicam was one such thing that changed the way we move the camera in a shot.  It allowed us to go where we couldn’t previously go and give a sense of movement and energy to a scene previously impossible.  Now here maybe another such invention. The Movi.

It is a “digital 3-axis gyro-stabilized handheld camera gimbal” which allows a single operator to move freely around for the floating shots we all love, but without the years training required to master the Steadicam and with a price tag within reach for even the smaller setups.

The Movi Gimbal rig is produced by http://freeflysystems.com

I had to watch the video 4 or 5 times and I think this has got to be one of the coolest inventions to hit the industry in a while. I cannot wait to see it in real life.

 

MōVI BTS from Vincent Laforet on Vimeo.

GoPro to Pix240

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Today right before leaving the office I tried hooking up our GoPro Hero 3 Black edition to our Pix240. After turning off the OSD (on screen display) on the GoPro I got a clean picture on the Pix.
The display on the Pix read the incoming video as 1080/50i/8bit.

Tomorrow I’ll record some video to see what it looks like. If clean and uncompressed out of the GoPro it’d be nice to pass on the in-camera codec and record in ProRes.

Compact kit

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We are doing feature stories at the Venice film festival this year. ENG/run’n’gun stuff. Being mobile is a must but you still need gear. Weight adds up so so quickly even when you try to keep a compact run kit.
This is what I managed to stick in here today…

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2 lenses (Canon HD22 and 11)
5 XDCam discs
5″ TV-logic on-board monitor
Idiot light (top-camera light)
1 GoproHD2 camera
Vocas Mattebox
7 filters (Pola, .3, .6, .9 ND grad, .6 NDblender, 1/2 SFX, 1/2 blk promist)
2 reflectors with built in diffusers
1 x 4×4 ft frame with diffuser and bounce
4 batteries (2x190Wh and 2x 160Wh)
Cineroid light with 2 L batteries
2 sheets of Black wrap
Cables for patching into audio
2 SDI Video cables (1x1m, 1x5m)
3 wireless packs with Lavs, microcats and concealer
1 wired lav
1 wireless handmic
22 AA batteries
Rain cover
Lens wipes
iPhone charger
Flashlight
Electrical tape
Gaffers tape

Even though there isn’t anything overkill the weight does add up, Quickly especially if you have to be mobile. The ThinkTank roller has backpack straps but being a roller helps on the long walks… 🙂 This all is of course additional weight on top of the Sachtler 20i and the XDCam pdw-700camera…

We also keep a small light kit on-site but try not to add 27 KG (60lbs) to the run around kit… 🙂

Alphatron EVF – Review

Today we got our own copy of the Alphatron EVF. Very excited as we’ve been waiting for a good viewfinder for our Sony F3.  Other viewfinders I’ve seen in the last 2 years (in the $1000 range),  have in my opinion had one thing in common: they’ve bee very hard to judge focus on.  This EVF from Alphtron seems to be a change in that regard. It has a hires diplay, 960×640 and is crisp to look at.  Not to compare to a black n’ white pro viewfinder, but its getting closer.  I must say this though. I don’t understand why no one makes a proper SDI converter allowing for a ProVF such as the Sony 20A. I do not want, nor do I need a color viewfinder. I have an external monitor for when I need to judge critical color, something I’ll never get  anyway from a 4inch display.  But in the meantime this is what’s available and this might be the best VF to come out yet, in my opinion.  The panel in this VF is made by TV Logic which in itself should add confidence to potential buyers.

 

 

Where do I start.  Mounting is important.  For now we’ll use a small magic arm to attach the VF to out Berkey cheese plate. I think it mounts easily and sits pretty sturdy.  If you are one to keep changing the angle of  the VF as you shoot there might be a better mounting option:  The downside to the magic arm it when you tilt the unit up you release the screw and you need to turn the knob to tighten again. Tilting down is not a problem. I am sure there are solutions for this out or ready to come out.  There are 3 screw-in attachment points, 1 underneath, 1 on top and 1 on the right side of the unit. Attachment point are sturdy and in metal.  The power button is located on the top of the unit, please make sure to turn it off when not in use.

 

On the front end on the VF is a cover that houses the battery plate.  It will accept L and NP batteries.  This is a great option if you don’t have power available from the camera, let’s say for HDSLR use. The unit comes with a power cable with a D-tap connector on the end and the mini XLR on the other.  Having the power input angled down is not ideal, and I hope there is an angled power connector out there.
Underneath the battery plate is the I/O of the unit. To the left 2 BNC connectors SD/HDSDI in/out with loop through.  On the right is the HMDI in and out (loop through also). There is a meny option to convert HMDI in to SDI which could prove to be a really cool feature if you come from a HDMI source and want to shoot to a monitor a distance away.  Saves a AJA/BMD converter box. Nice!

Battery plate and SDI and HMDI i/o
BOTTOM VIEW:  Loupe release and power in as well as firmware port and calibration port

 

VF with the loupe popped open

The Alphatron EVF has 7 meny pages all accessable from the left side of the unit.  Also on that side are the 4 “f-buttons” for easy access operation of your favorite meny functions.

Meny access on the left side

The meny tree looks like this:

Picture: Setting for Brightneess, contrast, Aperture (sharpness), Scan mode (over, 0, user), Apect ratio, 3 G format, DSLR settings, and Rotary lock.
Color:  Here you can choose between presets of 3200K, 5600K, 6500K, 9300K as well as 3 user settings allowing you to customize your colors.
Marker: Setting for all frame markers, 16:9, 4:3, 4:3 on air, 15:9, 14:9, 13:9, 1.85, 2.35, 1.85 &4:3 as well as USER setting. Choice of marker color, and width. Safety area and center marker.
Error Check: False color, Setting for Zebra (1 zebra) with Y zone adjust from 0-100% as well as range error.
Audio: Level meter (16 channels, Lv meter display (pair or group), Lev Met Ref (18dB or 20dB), Lev Met size, peak decay time.
Display & Set: System default, Back light, Int pattern (color+pluge and gray 5-100%), Time code (LTC, VITC, OFF),
System: RS-232 port (Upgrade or Calibration) and HMDI to SDI (on-off)

In the eye piece there is a leaf-shutter that lets you shut out the sun from getting in while your eye is not up against.  I don’t know if this panel is especially sensitive to sun but it is a smart feature.

Leaf shutter

Good vs Bad

Good:
*  Timecode.  The Alphatron reads the timecode from the HDSDI stream and displays it in the viewfinder.  Very useful and this will tell you in your are rolling or not (taken that you are in REC-RUN TC mode)
*  You can set the VF in a Black n’ white mode and have a red (green or blue) focus assist line light up around all things in focus. Smart and easy to see without distracting colors. I think this is the way I’ll use this viewfinder most of the time as the color accuracy in the display is what it is.
*  The 4 easily accessible  “f-buttons” that you can customize to fit your needs. Very handy
*  User defined markers to let you set up your own marker in the VF.
*  Flip up feature to use the small screen without loupe.
*  False color feature is something I like alot on the 5inch TvLogic and is a nice feature on here.
*  Pixel-to-pixel.  Nice feature and standard now in most VF’s I guess.

Negative stuff:
*  I wish there was a histogram or  small WFM in the view finder.  Yes there are other options to set exposure but a small histogram is the VF would have been nice. Why choose not to include that, I know its available in other VFs??  Firmware upgrade???
*  Auto shut off.  Not that the viewfinder will chew up you battery over lunch but it would have been nice to have an auto-shut-off feature after for example 3 minutes of no sdi signal.  Firmware upgrade???
*  Why have 16 channels of audio monitoring in the VF. Isn’t 4 enough just to see that audio is actually being recorded. There is nothing moving on non-used channels but I want my VF as clean as possible…:)  Firmware upgrade??
*  The zebra pattern sets off the focus assist feature.  If for example you’d set your zebra at lets say 65% pretty much the whole frame would shown “as in focus” if you’re outdoors. If you use the zebra feature constantly it get annoying to see the zebra pattern “light up”.
*  Don’t know if I’d really call it negative but it is a little big big and bulky. I understand why it needs to be, but at the same time wish it was a little bit smaller. (we’re never happy are we… 😉  )

example of where zebra sets of focus assist “color edge”

 

To sum it up I think this is a great viewfinder for the money.  It is sharp and with the focus assist feature I see it as a really useful tool.  I wish there was the histogram but zebra will work especially if you’re used to ENG style cameras. Finding a good way to mount it onto the camera will be important if you need to change the position of the VF often.  I’ll be glad to get rid of the 5inch with blackwrap as our viewfinder… 🙂

Disclaimer:  No one asked me to write this post, I don’t have any ties… etc  etc. We payed retail price for the EVF

Sony Digital Wireless

A few months ago we bought the new Digital Wireless system from Sony and here are a few thoughts after taking it out into the field.

To start off: As with most things in this crazy industry on thing is for sure: YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. This is not an inexpensive system. Its not any more expensive than say Lectro, Sennheiser, Wisycom or any other high end system in the same class. But by paying the little extra you also get a reliable system with the extra features that you might find useful.

We chose Sony wireless for a few reason. First, I’ve had the 855 and 860 diversity systems for the last 10 years and can say nothing but god things about them. I can easily count the number of dropouts I’ve had in that period, which is very very few. They’ve worked over great distances and in some miserable conditions. If this was the next generation from Sony I’d expect nothing less.
Secondly the receiver fits into our PDW-700 and allows 2 channels of wireless audio directly in the slot. Great news!!
Thirdly and this is actually just a bonus is the fact that we own a bunch of Sony lavs already wired for the transmitters.

I think one of the main advantages of this system is being able to control features remotely. Say you’ve hidden a transmitter on a talent, taped down and under clothing for example. Being able to change output, enter a LowCut filter, or “sleep” the transmitter to save batteries is awesome. You can also change a frequency if you run into interference, all directly from the camera meny

in camera meny to control transmitters remotely

or the top of the receiver. The little indicator that shows you battery level on the TX is just so so so useful. No more guess work or running up to the talent to lift clothing to check. Just wish you could actually switch the batteries remotely…. 😉

remote access to features on transmitter

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We do a lot of ENG style shooting for feature news pieces and documentaries where range and rock solid performance is an absolute must. On thing with the Sony system is being able to up the transmit power to 50 mW. I know other manufacturers go even higher but I’ve used 10mW with the 860 and 855 for so many years, I think 50mW will serve all my needs. 🙂 There is also the aspect of battery drainage to consider. When I switched the transmitter to 50mW I could definitelely notice more battery usage. But the option is there to go from 1mW (close sit-down stuff) to 10mW or 50Mw as range increases. In the time we’ve had the system it has worked like a charm on long distance applications and transmission has been solid.

There is also a feature to encrypt the transmission, but this is not a feature I’ve dug into as of yet. Perhaps down the line.

These new transmitters also allow for LINE level input which is great if you’d like to “tap” a mixerboard for example. Very useful again to have 2 channels in the slot providing a stereo pair.

Great build quality Also micro USB for firmware upgrades

The transmitter are, as expected, really well built in a metal chassi and like my old WRT-860 these DWT-B01 will stand up to a lot of abuse for a long time to come. Also there is a Micro USB port to allow for future firmware upgrades. Units run on AA batteries which I personally like better than 9v. The size of the transmitter is a little smaller than the old WRT. For really small transmitters hiding in hair and such there are other option from other manufacturers.

The optional mixer bag slot attachment is a great way to use this system as stand alone (by a mixer console) or in a mixer bag in the field. Here is a link of some pictures of it attached to our F3.

So any downsides or negative issues I’ve run into. Not really. One thing I think of the Analog VS digital side of it. I come from the analog wireless sound where if there is a dip/hit in transmission you might just get a hiz sound/small break up but still be able to hear a voice for example. Well with digital it is ON or OFF. Its nothing wrong with the system, just how digital works.

Also I’ve had a small issue with the “pilot connection” (feature control) on one of the transmitters to the receiver and connection has been lost a couple of times, and I’ve actually have had to reset the transmitter to factory default. It now works fine, and it may have been a user-issue. I am not a sound guy and user manuals are not my cup of tea. 🙂

Also the “pilot signal” doesn’t have a best range, and I’ve found it looses connection if it’s put to sleep. For example, if you sleep a transmitter you’ve placed on a mixing console on the other side of a room, you’ll make it sleep but might have a hard time waking it. Move in a little closer and it will connect up again.

We have a few other systems as well, lower end ones costing about half of this system. But I go back to my first thought in this post, YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. You really do. I hesitate every single time we take the lower end systems out into the field, which is not a reassuring way to start a shoot. They’re ok to use in a sound bag with someone monitoring them but for a camera link a high end system is the way to go.

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Disclaimer: I have no ties to Sony in any other way than having spent and enormous amount of money on their gear over the years. We payed full price for this wireless unit as well.

New Black Magic Camera

Yet another camera. This time it’s Black Magic Design who’ve entered the camera market, by releasing a 2,5K uncompressed RAW camera. Price: $3000!! Yes you heard right. $3000!!!

The camera will record to an internal SSD drive, controlled by large touch screen on the back and accept EF or ZF mount lenses. It will record in 12 bit RAW CineDNG files and is said to have 13 stops of dynamic resolution!

http://bit.ly/HImie0

Not a bad first camera… 🙂

Gemini Raw

Convergent design has done it again. Today they officially released the “Gemini Raw” an external recorder recording onto SSD drives. With the Nano and Gemini 444 they now add support for 4K Raw acquisition with live preview and playback.
The 4 camera recording will allow 4 streams of HD-SDI simultaneously recording DNxHD onto the Gemini RAW.
It also features 4 camera recording, quad split playback, stereo 3D, uncompressed 444 and 120fps support in 2K.
DNxHD recently added to the Gemini 444 is if course also included in the Raw version. Convergent Design has also “future proofed” this recorder allowing for both RAW/uncompressed and DNxHD220 recording at the same time!!
Talk about data flow! 🙂
Price is still TBD but this looks like the recorder to get for high end work.

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