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Mitchell cameras for modern filmmaking.


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#1 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 28 July 2006 - 01:15 AM

I was thinking about buying a Mitchell GC and wanted to know if these cameras were still viable fir filmmaking today. What problems to expect and if there were problems I should be aware of before seriously considering buying one. I seem to remember someone saying they took a 96 volt battery? . Also can they be converted to a crystal sync motor and blimped or barring that how effective are barneys for them? Please enlighten me as I know vertually nothing about these cameras other tha they are supose to be heavy an a but unwieldly, how heavey I'm not even sure of. Thanks B)
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#2 David Sweetman

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Posted 28 July 2006 - 01:59 AM

I'm under the impression they're quite unbelievably heavy...although that may give the presence of the camera a "heavier" feel, which could be what you're going for. Personally, while I do like heavy equipment, I think I'd stay away from things that would only add to set-up time if I didn't see that they offered any real benefiets.

Here's something about the camera: http://indycine.com/manuals/GCu.htm

It seems the "GC" stands for "Government Camera," which were, I guess, the government-issued ones.
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#3 Stephen Williams

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Posted 28 July 2006 - 02:08 AM

I was thinking about buying a Mitchell GC and wanted to know if these cameras were still viable fir filmmaking today. What problems to expect and if there were problems I should be aware of before seriously considering buying one. I seem to remember someone saying they took a 96 volt battery? . Also can they be converted to a crystal sync motor and blimped or barring that how effective are barneys for them? Please enlighten me as I know vertually nothing about these cameras other tha they are supose to be heavy an a but unwieldly, how heavey I'm not even sure of. Thanks B)


Hi,

About the only use for a rackover GC today would be effects work, motion control, background plates or stop motion. Many were converted by Fries engineering for through the lens viewing, modern crystal motors are also available. They are noisy, MOS only. The movement was designed in the early 1920's, and is as steady as any camera ever made. Needs oiling every day @ 24 fps and every take above 100 fps. A Hand crank was provided as a back up so the military could go on filming without batteries!

Stephen
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#4 Daniel Stigler

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Posted 28 July 2006 - 02:11 AM

Please enlighten me as I know vertually nothing about these cameras other tha they are supose to be heavy an a but unwieldly, how heavey I'm not even sure of.



The blimped BNC weighs 122lbs, the unblimped NC 70lbs.
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#5 Stephen Williams

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Posted 28 July 2006 - 02:17 AM

The blimped BNC weighs 122lbs, the unblimped NC 70lbs.


Hi,

The GC was never designed for sync sound, but can shoot high speed. A NC/BNC movement is only rated to 32 fps, but was designed for shooting sync sound in a blimp.

Stephen
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#6 David Sweetman

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Posted 28 July 2006 - 02:47 AM

The blimped BNC weighs 122lbs, the unblimped NC 70lbs.


Geez...that's no good.
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#7 Nate Downes

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Posted 28 July 2006 - 09:42 AM

the GC is not made for sync-sound work. it's a high-speed and fx camera, and for that kind of work it's really one of the best out there. For sound work, you'd be better served with a BNC if you insist upon Mitchell (I love the guys, personally) or a self blimped camera.
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#8 nathan snyder

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Posted 28 August 2006 - 11:35 PM

I have a Mitchell BNC that was converted to a BNCR and it is a great camera.

Here it is:
http://owyheesound.c..._35mm_bncr.html

Yes it is heavy, and it is not a camera that single person cn operate. But who is going to, or even can, make a film by themselves? Have a few more grips around is not a bad thing. Besides, when I shoot a project with my Mitchell camera I have not problem getting Volunteeres from the media debt. from the local universities. Getting a larger crew is a small inconvienience compared to the cost savings and potential high quality of shooting with a BNCR, especially since I added the video tap to it.

I also have and use an arri II which I like also, even have a 120s blimp for it. The arri has it's place but it could never replace my Mitchell.
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#9 David W Scott

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Posted 29 August 2006 - 10:08 AM

I have a Mitchell BNC that was converted to a BNCR and it is a great camera.

Here it is:
http://owyheesound.c..._35mm_bncr.html

Yes it is heavy, and it is not a camera that single person cn operate. But who is going to, or even can, make a film by themselves? Have a few more grips around is not a bad thing. Besides, when I shoot a project with my Mitchell camera I have not problem getting Volunteeres from the media debt. from the local universities. Getting a larger crew is a small inconvienience compared to the cost savings and potential high quality of shooting with a BNCR, especially since I added the video tap to it.

I also have and use an arri II which I like also, even have a 120s blimp for it. The arri has it's place but it could never replace my Mitchell.


Interesting to hear that you are an enthusiastic BNCR shooter.

I have a copy of Dan Chamness' Film Budgeting and Script Breakdown book (1977) and he enthusiastically recommends the BNCR. At the time, rental prices were a fraction of modern camera packages, but the BNCR delivered the goods.

I'd be curious to know if others think that this is still a reasonable option for low budget features. Obviously, a full crew is a must -- no MiniDV-style run and gun shooting.

Can you find cheap rentals? Or only sales now?
Who does good service work?
What about lenses?
Is it feasible to match lenses between a BNCR and a smaller MOS camera (IIB?) so that they will intercut?
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#10 Stephen Williams

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Posted 29 August 2006 - 10:44 AM

What about lenses?
Is it feasible to match lenses between a BNCR and a smaller MOS camera (IIB?) so that they will intercut?


Hi,

Super Balitars and Cooke Speed Pancro's serII will IMO cut quite well. Color matching & sharpness even between sets was not that good. It was normal to test a selection of lenses at a rental house to make ones own set!

Stephen
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#11 Dan Goulder

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Posted 29 August 2006 - 10:55 AM

Is it feasible to match lenses between a BNCR and a smaller MOS camera (IIB?) so that they will intercut?

You can put a BNCR front on an Arri 2B. However, the BNCR lenses must be those with a tapered mount. Then they can be used in either camera.
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#12 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 29 August 2006 - 02:05 PM

The GC was never designed for sync sound, but can shoot high speed. A NC/BNC movement is only rated to 32 fps, but was designed for shooting sync sound in a blimp.


NC movements are quite quiet. Listen to the movement running without film flapping through and you'll hear a barely audible whir.
NCs can be used for exterior sync without much of a problem. They're not too different from a 35BL'one' without the lens blimp. Tha BL might be a more practical camera choice.
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#13 Nate Downes

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Posted 30 August 2006 - 09:56 PM

NC movements are quite quiet. Listen to the movement running without film flapping through and you'll hear a barely audible whir.
NCs can be used for exterior sync without much of a problem. They're not too different from a 35BL'one' without the lens blimp. Tha BL might be a more practical camera choice.


You know despite all this, I still would love a Mitchell as my main camera.
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#14 Bob Hayes

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Posted 30 August 2006 - 11:46 PM

If you are trying to save money I would look into an XR-35 by cinema products and an old Mitchell gear head. Old school all the way. It?s very heavy and hard to move but? A lot of stuff has to move when you change set ups. When you think about it is moving the lights and re-dressing the set that takes time. You want to own a cheap 35mm sound camera. The XR 35 ain?t for hand held but for old school Hollywood style films this isn?t a bad choice.
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#15 David W Scott

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Posted 01 September 2006 - 09:33 AM

My shooting style is very restrained -- no matter the camera, I like careful compositions on the sticks, and occasional dolly creeps.

With that in mind...

...what are the dolly requirements for a camera as heavy as the BNCR (or XR 35)? Any dollies that simply won't handle that weight? Any recommendations for a good match between dolly and camera?
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#16 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 01 September 2006 - 12:08 PM

...what are the dolly requirements for a camera as heavy as the BNCR (or XR 35)? Any dollies that simply won't handle that weight? Any recommendations for a good match between dolly and camera?


A BNCR and a Worrell head on a Moviola dolly will wobble.

No one's mentioned Worrell heads yet in the thread, they're quite hefty too.
I think there was a fluid head made for the CP XR-35.
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#17 John Holland

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Posted 01 September 2006 - 12:25 PM

Yes think it was a Worrell fluid head ,a big one XR 35 must have been half the weight of a BNCR , only used one once , not many of them over here . John Holland , London.
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#18 nathan snyder

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Posted 01 September 2006 - 12:34 PM

Worrals are heafty but I would not trust much else underneath a blimped Mitchell. I have an old mitchel friction head that will take the wieght but the top heavy wieght of the camera would make for tilts that would require a couple of grips to hold onto the thing. I like my worrall so much I even put my worrall underneath small video cameras. I shot a feature this past June with a Pannasonic HVX-200 that I put on a high hat and ontop of the worral which was inturn mounted on a Fearless dolly. I replaced on the of the dollies seat mounts with a stand for a high deff video monitor. It was a great setup for working in a studio. Changing setups was lighting fast.

As far as dollies go... I have an old Fearless panoram that I like quite a bit, in some ways more than the Fischer dolly. I have serviced mine so that it is smoooooth. Again it requires a a few grips to run it but after the choreography is worked out it can be a very good tool. Here are some details about my fearless: http://owyheesound.c...oram_dolly.html

And if you are interested in getting a Mitchell serviced I would recomend Richard Bennet: http://www.cinemaengineering.com/ Richard has always been very helpful to me on the phone and has made me a few pretty good deals. Last I heard he still has at least one BNCR for sale at a great price.

Edited by nathan snyder, 01 September 2006 - 12:38 PM.

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#19 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 01 September 2006 - 01:25 PM

Worrals are heafty but I would not trust much else underneath a blimped Mitchell. I have an old mitchel friction head that will take the wieght but the top heavy wieght of the camera would make for tilts that would require a couple of grips to hold onto the thing.


The plate on a Worral is an exact fit to the base of a BNC. Obviously it was made to be used with the BNC.

After Worral went out of business CP bought the inventory. So wound up servicing and selling them.
I think the XR-35 fluid head was made by O'Connor.

Way back when I was at Sawyer a Japanese crew came by searching for a Mitchell friction head to rent.
We still had a couple laying around. They were Ecstatic.
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#20 John Holland

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Posted 01 September 2006 - 01:32 PM

Leo you are correct it was a O'Connor , big but worked well with XR 35 . John Holland .
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